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Shadows In The Vineyard by Maximillian Potter

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In January 2010, Aubert de Villaine, the famed proprietor of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the tiny, storied vineyard that produces the most expensive, exquisite wines in the world, received an anonymous note threatening the destruction of his priceless vines by poison-a crime that in the world of high-end wine is akin to murder-unless he paid a one million euro ransom. Villaine believed it to be a sick joke, but that proved a fatal miscalculation and the crime shocked this fabled region of France. The sinister story that Vanity Fair journalist Maximillian Potter uncovered would lead to a sting operation by some of France’s top detectives, the primary suspect’s suicide, and a dramatic investigation. This botanical crime threatened to destroy the fiercely traditional culture surrounding the world’s greatest wine.

 

 

Why did I want to read (listen) to this book?  Wine fascinates me.  It has been talked about since biblical times and has taken on the prestige drink of celebrations, congratulations, acceptable item to bring to a dinner party, an accompaniment to dinner, with friends, or yes… while reading a book.  While I myself am not a big wine drinker (I like sweeter wines, I refer to them as “baby wines”), I am still fascinated by the process and the beauty of wine in a glass.

Shadows in the vineyard is an engaging true story.  It was interesting to learn about this event in our not too distant history and the impact it had on this community.  The story line is well paced and kept me fascinated in what was happening.  If you have interest in true events this book may be just the one for you.

Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green – (Second time around just as AWESOME!)

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Prelude:  When I drive to our cabin that is 3 1/2 hours away I love to listen to audio.  This past weekend with my now graduated from College son, we listened to Will Grayson Will Grayson.  When I tell my son we will listen to audio he eye rolls but appeases me.  I… do not want to be appeased.  I… want him to love audio too.  And this is how it happened…  ~Sheila

 

Will Grayson is 16 years old and has a best friend named Tiny Cooper.  Tiny… is anything but. Tiny is humongous and his heart is just as big as he is.  Tiny is gay – Will is not.  Will takes a lot of crap for having a larger than life best friend who is gay but Will just puts his head down and plods on as each class brings him closer to the end of the school day where he can go home and get away from the drama that is high school.

When Will meets Jane, a girl he may or may not like… things become interesting.  Jane is part of the Gay/Straight Alliance in their school and Will is not sure which one of those heading she falls under  but she seems to like him.  Perhaps… life just became a little more interesting.

Will Grayson is 16 and has fallen for a guy he met on-line named Isaac.  Isaac.  What a great name…  but this is not the Will Grayson who is best friends with Tiny Cooper.  No… this is another Will Grayson, or soon to become known as OWG (other Will Grayson)…

and things are about to get interesting.

 

 

Alright alright – it is honestly really hard to describe this book and why I love it so much.  It has the untethered bound of John Green’s wit.  It has the incredible narration of David Levithan that makes me laugh out loud as the guy is simply brilliant as he makes his way through this book with fantastic voices and occasionally breaking out into song.  Yes song.  Tiny is writing a musical… but that – is another part of the story.

I adored this audio when I listened to it in 2012 immediately following listening to Fault In Our Stars for the first time.  Same author – John Green, in case you did not catch that.  I was basking in Green.  Literally and I wanted to share his incredible writing and audio with the world.  Listening to it again two years later I fell in love with this story again.

So the verdict with my son?  I gave him full veto rights to tell me to stop the audio and I would with no arguing or sideways glares as we drove.  Instead – he enjoyed it too and so much in fact when we arrived back home on Monday he downloaded Audible to his phone so he could finish listening to it on his way home to the cities.

I promised him I would not gloat… but…

mission achieved :)

If you have not treated yourself to the amazing narration of David Levithan I highly encourage you to give him a try.  If you have not listened to a John Green audiobook woo!  You are missing a great level to his writing.  I highly recommend Will Grayson Will Grayson on book or audio.  Some day I want to read this one…  I bet it is FABULOUS!

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

1caaLauren Elliott dreams of being a bride but Todd, her boyfriend of many years avoids the subject like it is the plague.  When Lauren’s younger sister who is already married announces she is pregnant Lauren feels even more strongly that it is time to make moves towards what makes her happy, and that may very well mean moving on without Todd.

BethAnne Scranton is the happiest she has ever been in her life with her second husband Max.  He is everything a husband is supposed to be (caring, loving, passionate, a friend and companion) and everything her first husband was not.  The only thing not perfect is the fact that Max’s business is so far away he maintains a separate household and that seems to make BethAnne’s ex think there is room to wiggle back into her life.

Lydia Goetz owns the local yarn store called ‘A Good Yarn’.  She worries about her store and how to think of unique ways to bring in business… it seems however someone is secretly helping her with that.  Baskets of yarn and needles are showing up around the town with a message to knit a scarf and bring it into A Good Yarn where it will be donated to someone in need.  The yarn is all coming from Lydia’s shop… but who?  And why?  Although Lydia is not complaining as her business door is opening more and more to new customers.

How will these women’s lives intertwine?  Who’s relationships will survive the bumps? 

 

 

A long time ago I had dabbled in the Debbie Macomber series, Cedar Cove.  I loved how each book was a street address and you learned about the people who lived at that address and their association with the others in the town.  Then the next book would be a different address and from that person’s perspective in the same town.  Really, it is a brilliant series.  As my reading expanded, Debbie Macomber and Cedar Cove were put aside for other books, and I never did find my way back to Cedar Cove, or for that matter, to Debbie Macomber.

Until now.

On a whim…. this book, Blossom Street Brides sounded kind of light and fun, and just the right audio length to hold my attention during the beautiful summer drives.  And… I was right.

Blossom Street Brides is a sweet read centered around three women and their relationships with spouses, boyfriends, and children.  While romance reading has never been a “go to” genre for me, Macomber never lays it on thiick so I am able to enjoy her smooth style of an engaging storyline.  There are a couple of happenings in the book that made the independent woman in me think “oh come on!”, but over all putting reality aside, I found enjoyment in the read.

Going into this book, I did not realize it was part of a series until I finished it, but I never felt I was missing any previous information.  I listened to this one on audio with Cassandra Campbell as the narrator and I enjoyed it.

Fans of Macomber will enjoy this fun look into the three women’s lives.

 

  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 59 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: March 25, 2014

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Molly Ayer knows the Foster Care System all too well.  She has been a part of it for most of her life bouncing from one home to another.  Now at seventeen years old she is required to do community service for a petty theft crime.  She is required to go through an elderly woman’s attic and clean up, toss out, and organize the cluttered dusty boxes.  An undertaking that on sight appears impossible, especially since the widowed old woman Vivian, does not seem to keen on parting with her things.

As Molly explores the attic and what is inside the boxes, she discovers that Vivian too was part of a much earlier foster system called the Orphan Train. The Train would take children from stop to stop where families could come to the train and choose children to go home with them… that system unfortunately, worked about as well as some of it does still today. As Molly and Vivian spend their days together in the attic they learn of each others experiences with the foster care system, some good..and some bad.  Some times it was your wits and your desire to survive that pulled you through.

Both women find out that they have a lot more in common than one would ever guess by looking at them.

 

 

Orphan Train was our book club selection for August.  We chose this book because we won the books for our group from Harper Collins – woo hoo!!!!!!!!  AND the author Christina Baker Kline will be speaking in our town on August 12th, as it happens, our regular Tuesday that we hold our book club on.

Orphan Train turned out to be a delight.  As I had loaned my copy of the book out to a friend, I did not have one in my possession so I decided to try it on audio.  I had heard it was an excellent listen and that turned out to be true.  Narrator Suzanne Toren was perfect for this book.

I went into this book with little knowledge of what it was about other than the Orphan Train (*spoiler alert… it’s the title! ;)  )  I had not read any reviews of the book so even the format of going from Molly’s story to Vivian’s was a surprise and a pleasant one at that.

I enjoyed the storyline and the knowledge I picked up along the way regarding the Orphan Train.  It is a subject I hope to learn more about and I am hopeful that next week Christina Baker Kline will talk more about her research.

Historical Fiction fans will enjoy this read.

I will talk more about the Bookies Book Club thoughts on the book as well as the Author Event next week.

 

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 21 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 2, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

The One Safe Place, Tania Unsworth, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Twelve year old Devin is ill prepared for what to do when his Grandpa suddenly passes away.  They lived on a farm, one of the precious few left in the dystopian type world of despair, drought, and destruction.  When Devin leaves the farm to go and find help in the direction that his Grandpa had always told him to go in the case of needing help, he instead finds wild kids of his own age without the skills or the care that he was nurtured in.

When Devin and a new friend Kit, hear about the Gabriel H. Penn Home for Childhood, a place that is said to be filled with others their age, lots of food and great accommodations, they hurry on to find this place that sounds too good to be true.   As the old adage says…. if something sounds too good to be true…

it probably is.

 

 

I was impressed with this Middle Grade (MG) style audio book.  The One Safe Place gives a modern and possibly creepier feel to the old Hansel and Gretel story… and as I write this I think this is more like a dystopian version of that story – obviously with a modern twist that helps it hold its own.

I enjoyed this audio of a strange world of survival at any cost.  I also like that instead of the usual YA (16-20) characters that are often found in this type of read, they targeted it to a younger group who I think will really enjoy the feel of the book aimed at the MG readers.  Nicely played Tania Unsworth.

Mark Turetsky was the narrator for this book and I think that may be my only unfortunate take away is that the narration felt as though someone was reading to me.  I personally like to fall inside an audio book, forgetting about the narration and immersing in the world the author has created.  The fact that I found myself thinking of the narration while listening to this book shows that did not happen.  Narration was pleasant, do not get me wrong, and I know that it is certainly a skill that I do not have, but that is my take away.

Middle Grade listeners and readers will enjoy this perfect level of age appropriate creepy.

 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Talk about your hot messes.

When the Pirriwee Public Schools Annual Trivia Night ends, no one who was there will ever be the same.  People are hurt.  Some have broken bones… and one parent is dead.

Second marriage Madelaine Mackenzie is 40 years old.  She has the clothes, the style, and the attitude.  By all appearances she can hold her own but deep down inside she hurts when her teenage daughter prefers her remarried fathers company to Mackenzie’s.

Celeste is by anyone’s description; beautiful.  She is the type of woman that most of us would not want to stand too close to for fear of being compared and found wanting. She has two adorable twin boys and what seems to be the perfect marriage to Perry… but behind closed doors it is becoming more and more apparent that things are not as perfect as one would think.

Jane is the fairly new in town single mom to the sweet boy Ziggy.  She is working hard to fit in with the other women, but holds tight to keeping the secret of Ziggy’s father a closed conversation.

As the police start their investigation of the happenings at the Trivia Night that Madelaine, Celeste and Jane all attended, they find out a lot more than they had initially anticipated. What started out looking like an accident… may have been cold blooded murder.

 

 

SQQQQUUUEEEEE!  Let’s just get that out of the way now.  This book is totally SSSQQQUUUEEEE worthy!  I LOVED it.  I have listened to all of Liane Moriarty’s books on audio and get a thrill every time. Narrator Caroline Lee (who also narrated The Husband’s Secret) is PERFECT for this style of book.  Her distinct voices between the characters and her amazing animated ways made this a true delight to listen to and I did not want to stop!

Fantastic story line, wonderful three dimensional characters and all mixed in with an important topic made this listen a huge WIN.  Do not miss out on this one – in book or audio it is sure to be fantastic!  I wish Author Liane Moriarty could write faster, I am already jonesing for her next book. :)

 

I Don’t Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer

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You may recognize her from being the best friend in the movie 13 Going On 30.  She was also a friend in 27 Dresses.  She had a supporting role in What Women Want, Carrie, Playing For Keeps, The Descendants, The Wedding Planner.   She has had tv show appearances such as Modern Family, ER, House MD, My Name Is Earl, CSI Miami, Two and a Half Men, and more… so much more.

Judy Greer is always in the role of best friend, co-worker, the neighbor… the walk on part.  While you may recognize her from something… Judy Greer laughs at the fact that she is often unable to place, and often, identified incorrectly.

From fun moments (or… not so fun moments) at the Oscars, wardrobe malfunctions, a famous actor giving her father a Harley Davidson, behind the scenes and more.

 

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Many of the movies that Judy Greer has been in I have seen.  While I recognize her and enjoy the parts that she plays, I admittedly, could not have told you her name.

Until now.

Judy Greer’s memoir, I Don’t Know Where You Know Me From, is like sitting with a friend you have not seen in a while and catching up on what is going on in their life.  It is light and funny. I listened to this one on audio, narrated by Judy herself, which was fun, and really added to the “sitting and catching up with a friend” feeling.  The audio is fairly short, but for this it works… much like hanging out with that friend – you do not want them to ramble on and on about themselves to the point that you do not want to see them for a while. ;)  That does not happen here.  Judy leaves you with just enough that you are still friends once her book is over and you look forward to whatever you will see her in next, so you can say - “That, is Judy Greer.  She is funny and versatile, you need to read her book.”

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  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 31 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 8, 2014

 

The Third Plate by Dan Barber

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Living in the age of more creates some unique opportunities.  While we are enjoying going out and eating larger than ever portions with meals that fill platter size plates and every fast food joint now not just offering you up the fries, but also asking you if you want to SUPER SIZE that, or more sneakily, “what size would you like?”

Mmmmmmm…

choices.

Do you know how hard it is it so stay “I will take the small” at that point?

Beyond the quite obvious obesity problem parts of the world is having there are other things to consider as well….

supply and demand.

The number of chicken, cows, pigs, and fish to sustain our every growing need to have it available at restaurants and at the local markets is not only staggering, but in this reviewers opinion… disgusting.  As Author and Chef Dan Barber says, that we are being fed (literally) a false promise of the future of food.

The First Plate is the classic meal most of us grew up with; the prime focus being on a large piece of meat, with very little vegetables on the side.  The farm to table movement reflects the current, and second plate where we are becoming more conscious of what we are putting into our mouths.  Looking for more local and organically grown choices, however as Dan points out in his book, is not long-term sustainable.

The Third Plate is based on a system featuring vegetables and grains and working with what the local farmers have at different seasons.

 

At the restaurant I serve a parsnip steak that was soil-aged for 14 months. We roast it like a steak, carve it like a steak and serve it with a rich bordelaise sauce made from beef bones. We flip the classic arrangement on its side. The anatomy of the first or second plate is there, but in keeping with what our landscape can provide. ~ Dan Barber

 

Dan Barber feels there is a healthy way to make this a win for our bodies, the farmers, and make it delicious.

 

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I am fascinated by foodie books.  I love to read about restaurants, cooking, chefs, and new ways to do things.  When I stumbled across The Third Plate while looking for my next audio I was intrigued.  We have local friends who gave up meat 2 years ago using the logic that some day, it will not be offered to us anyway as truly the world can not keep up n the ever-growing population and the ever-growing demand.

Seriously, kudos to them… but I am not ready for that day to come.  Sheila loves chicken!

Author Dan Barber is not proposing a non meat society, what he is offering up in The Third Plate is a radical change on how we look at the dinner plate.  His unique way of looking at the plate and how we can use local resources is fascinating.  He proposes how each area of the world uses the resources the land gives them to create delicious meals and support local growth and support.

I wish I took better notes when listening to this audio.  There are so many interesting facts as Dan visits sheep farmers, fisheries, and more.  The numbers are staggering… the supplies required to complete the demand are almost heartbreaking to me.  What people have learned about how a goose dies affects the taste of the meat is amazing.

This is one I will need to purchase the book because I hope to refer to this one time and again.  I was truly fascinated with everything I learned.  While at points it felt drug out in audio format, I imagine the book would not give the same feel.

Recommended for those who love foodie books like me, people interested in trying new things, and healthy eaters.  Dan Barbers thinking makes a lot of sense to me.

 

I am linking this post up to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

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Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews, Save The Date, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Cara Kryzik is the owner of a Savannah flower shop called Bloom.  She truly loves her job but with her father on her case for the money he loaned her to start her business, a landlord that will not return her calls when things in her store are not working, a walk in flower cooler that is unreliable, irate mother of brides, and an assistant who is acting stranger and stranger….

what is going to be her breaking point?

When a good-looking guy steals her dog, Cara does not have time to deal with him and manage her flowers for the upcoming weddings… and when this cool drink of water shows up at the wedding Cara is working, she can not believe his gall.  Is he following her???

While Cara is working out the kinks of her own life living event to event knowing that she is one cancelled wedding away from calling it quits… Jack the dog thief has other plans.

 

 

 

Save the date was another fun romp of a read by Mark Kay Andrews.  I enjoyed the protagonist who could not catch a break and the cast of characters that surrounded her flower shop.  I could imagine this as a fun movie.

Looking for a great summer read or in my case, listen?  Do not hesitate to add Save The Date to your list.  Narrator Kathleen Mcinerney does a wonderful job managing a cast of southern fun voices!

 

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 47 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: June 3, 2014

 

The Hurricane Sisters by Dorthea Benton Frank

The Hurricane Sisters, Dorthea Benton Frank, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

 

Three generations of southern women, Maisie who is eighty years old and set set SET in her ways.  Liz, Maisie’s daughter is taking care of a career, middle age, and one eye on her adult children, especially Ashley, and the other eye on her husband who makes more and more frequent trips to their apartment in New York.  Then there is Ashley, in her twenties she is sweet and innocent but has her eye and her heart set on the cute young senator; despite her roommates warnings.

Ashley has her older brother Ivy who cheers her on from afar when he is not able to visit from his San Francisco home where he lives with his partner.  Ashley lives in one of the family homes with her roommate Mary Beth; living on a shoe string budget but having dreams (and ideas) of how to make some big money to help them reach their dreams… as long as Ashley’s family doens’tfind out and then render her homeless.

These women love each other fiercely but you wouldn’t always know each.  Each woman has their secrets….  and like the hurricane sisters they are about to become… things are about to get crazy.

 

 

 

WOW OH WOW OH WOW OH WOW OH WOW.  I adore Dorthea Benton Frank and her books too!  If you are an audio person – I highly HIGHLY encourage audio for this one.  Robin Miller has a fantastic variety of voices that clearly define each of the southern characters of this book, both male and female.  I seriously had moments I laughed out loud during this one.  I can only imagine that narrating it was just as fun.

A perfect summer read that makes you think of summer flings and summer parties.  But this book is no fluff… in fact I am very impressed with Dorthea Benton Frank’s handling of a hard topic mixed within this story line.

This is a book that will leave you looking for more of Dorthea Benton Frank.  I have read her before… and I am already looking through her books to see what I may have missed.

Fantastic through and through!

 

 

splooch

 

 

 

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