Wining Wife®

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Month: July 2017

Book Review: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

What does it mean to be free? What happens when “saving” someone isn’t necessarily saving that person? Paulette Jiles explores these questions, beautifully, in her book, News of the World. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels and performs the newspaper for those who want to know what’s going on, but who cannot themselves read the news. This lifestyle suits the widower, and he enjoys what he does. Then, he is asked to help return Johanna, a 10 year old girl, to her relatives. Johanna has forgotten how to speak English, and tries to run away constantly during their 400-mile journey to her relatives. 

Like Jiles’ other novels, News of the World is beautifully written. Her words almost sing on the page. Not only does the adventure that the two travelers take keep one turning the page, but the development of the characters and the relationship between Captain Kidd and Johanna also keeps readers engaged from beginning to end.

About News of the World

• Paperback: 240 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 20, 2017)

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Jill Gann

About Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, TX.

Find out more about Paulette at her website.

Book Review: Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

To leap, or not to leap: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of familial expectations and obligations, or to take arms and follow one’s own passions and dreams? In Kiss Carlo, Adriana Trigiani explores this question among others against a backdrop of a local Shakespeare theatre company. It’s 1949, and Dominic Palazzini and his three sons are doing well. Meanwhile, Dominic’s orphaned nephew is trying to find himself and break free from the just-a-job he has.  

Every time Wining Husband and I go to a book sale, we pick up books by Adriana Trigiani. The stories she tells are rich, complex, and dive deep into the psyches of her characters. Kiss Carlo is no different. If you’re looking for a great summer read that will have you coming back for more (or if you’re lucky enough not to have small interrupters, read all the way through to the end in one sitting), then Kiss Carlo can fill that niche. It’s beautifully written, and it really pushes the question of what’s more important: passion and happiness or tradition and family.

About Kiss Carlo

• Hardcover: 544 pages
• Publisher: Harper (June 20, 2017)

From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativitythe story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.

It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.

Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.

From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.

Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Tim Stephenson

About Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Visit Adriana at her website: www.adrianatrigiani.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Bean Box Subscription Review

*This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on an affiliate link and making a purchase helps me to support my family at no additional cost to you.  I received a 3-month subscription to Bean Box in exchange for my honest review of the product. 

It’s really not a secret that I have a strong coffee addiction. One of the hardest things about being pregnant, other than not being able to drink wine and the 3rd trimester discomfort, is having to cut back on my coffee consumption. Even now, because I’m breastfeeding, I have to be mindful about the number of cups of java I enjoy since baby bodies are not able to metabolize caffeine. That said, I was really excited when I was offered the chance to review Bean Box in exchange for receiving a 3-month subscription to the service. 

About Bean Box

There are two main subscription options for Bean Box. You can choose to get a Bean Box sampler, which comes with four 1.8-oz roasts for each month for $18, or you can choose the coffee of the month option, which features a different 12-oz bag of coffee each shipment for $23 per shipment. Here’s where it gets cool: If you choose the 12-oz bag option, you can also choose how often you would like to receive your bag of coffee.  If you would like more frequent shipments, you can choose to get one bag every two weeks or you can choose to get a bag each week. Bean Box offers discounts for these options. 

I received the coffee of the month subscription option. The roasts I received were: 

  • Broadcast Coffee Roasters’ Columbia Tunia
  • Slate Coffee Roasters’ Cream and Sugar

I have one more shipment I’m looking forward to in the next couple of days. 

Tasting Coffee

Bean Box Coffee Gift GuideJust as there is with tasting wine, there is an art to tasting coffee. If you’re new to the idea of tasting coffee and thinking about the nuances of flavor, I strongly suggest reading Bean Box’s blog post: “How to Taste Coffee Like a Pro.” To taste coffee at home, we use a Capresso brand burr grinder. Using this type of grinder as opposed to other types of coffee grinders helps to preserve the beans’ oils, and thus helps to bring out the nuances of taste. We used a French press when brewing, and for tasting purposes, we kept the coffee unadulterated by milk or sugar. 

Broadcast Coffee Roasters’ Columbia Tunia

Broadcast Coffee Roasters is owned by Barry Faught. His three Seattle cafes have attracted a good bit of attention- and for good reason.  He has specially sourced his beans through travel, and takes a lighter roasting approach to preserve the unique qualities of each bean. Wining Husband and I were really impressed with their Columbia Tunia flavor that we received in the May box. I never thought I’d taste apple in coffee, but I did. This coffee had hints of crisp apple, smooth caramel, and chocolate. While we had this coffee, we didn’t need any sugar or cream – it was perfect as it was!

Slate Coffee Roasters’ Cream and Sugar

Slate Coffee Roasters is a newer Seattle coffee scene member. The family opened their business in 2012 in Ballard, Washington. Like Broadcast, Slate features single origin coffees. A visit to their coffee shop is a real treat as you can order a flight of coffee – much like you would if you were to go to a wine tasting. Like Broadcast, Slate prefers to veer on the side of the lighter roast to bring out the flavor of the beans. I’ll be honest, I normally do not like lighter roasts – but I found that I loved their Cream and Sugar roast. It was smooth and nutty. I could really taste the almond and caramel notes in the coffee, and really liked it.

I’m really looking forward to what July’s box brings, and we’ll be continuing our subscription to Bean Box. We love sampling coffees from different roasters, and it really makes for a nice treat. 

All new Bean Box subscribers receive a 10% discount on their first box when signing up for the Bean Box newsletter.

What’s your favorite coffee? Post your thoughts in the comments. 

 

 

Book Review: Strange Contagion by Lee Daniel Kravetz

Happy Independence Day! I hope you’re going out to see fireworks later. 

How do social behaviors become viral? I found Strange Contagion by Lee Daniel Kravetz to be a fascinating work exploring how it is that emotions can be passed from one individual to another. Have you ever noticed that if you’re around someone who is stressed out or who is complaining suddenly you begin to feel stressed out and you begin to complain and feel dissatisfied with the current state of affairs? I know that I have. Kravetz searches for the reasons that behaviors and emotions can be passed from one individual to another in a way that makes this book a page-turner. I find the idea of a social contagion to be absolutely fascinating (and true to my own experience), and I was unable to put this one down. 

About Strange Contagion

• Hardcover: 288 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 27, 2017)

Picking up where The Tipping Point leaves off, respected journalist Lee Daniel Kravetz’s Strange Contagion is a provocative look at both the science and lived experience of social contagion.

In 2009, tragedy struck the town of Palo Alto: A student from the local high school had died by suicide by stepping in front of an oncoming train. Grief-stricken, the community mourned what they thought was an isolated loss. Until, a few weeks later, it happened again. And again. And again. In six months, the high school lost five students to suicide at those train tracks.

A recent transplant to the community and a new father himself, Lee Daniel Kravetz’s experience as a science journalist kicked in: what was causing this tragedy? More important, how was it possible that a suicide cluster could develop in a community of concerned, aware, hyper-vigilant adults?

The answer? Social contagion. We all know that ideas, emotions, and actions are communicable—from mirroring someone’s posture to mimicking their speech patterns, we are all driven by unconscious motivations triggered by our environment. But when just the right physiological, psychological, and social factors come together, we get what Kravetz calls a “strange contagion:” a perfect storm of highly common social viruses that, combined, form a highly volatile condition.

Strange Contagion is simultaneously a moving account of one community’s tragedy and a rigorous investigation of social phenomenon, as Kravetz draws on research and insights from experts worldwide to unlock the mystery of how ideas spread, why they take hold, and offer thoughts on our responsibility to one another as citizens of a globally and perpetually connected world.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Lee Daniel Kravetz

Lee Daniel Kravetz has a master’s degree in counseling psychology and is a graduate of the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Journalism. He has written for Psychology Today, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times, among other publications. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and children.

Find out more about Lee at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Review: Soulmates by Jessica Grose

Everything happens for a reason – or does it? This is a question philosophers and theologians have debated about for a long time. On the one hand, it seems as though there is a divine order to the universe – things cannot be merely coincidental. On the other hand, things can be so random that it’s hard to believe that there’s any sort of order to the universe. Soulmates by Jessica Grose takes a sneering, biting hit at new-age spirituality in its own answer to this question. 

As a Christian who dabbled in Kabbalah, Buddhism, Wicca, and other spiritual paths, I was intrigued by the premise of the novel: A woman’s ex husband ran away with a yoga instructor after the modern wistfulness for a more peaceful existence through new age spirituality. The novel is as much of a mystery as it is a satire. It’s great fun to read, and I had a rough time putting it down. It’s a novel about how sometimes the people we think we know the best can be the people we know the least because we’ve already made up our minds about who that person is. 

About Soulmates

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017)

“For anyone who has ever suspected something sinister lurking behind the craze of new-age spirituality, Jessica Grose has crafted just the tale for you. With the delicious bite of satire and the page-turning satisfaction of a thriller, Soulmates is a deeply compelling, funny and sharply observed look at just how far we will go to achieve inner peace.”—Lena Dunham

A clever, timely novel about a marriage, and infidelity, the meaning of true spirituality, perception and reality from the author of Sad Desk Salad, in which a scorned ex-wife tries to puzzle out the pieces of her husband’s mysterious death at a yoga retreat and their life together.

It’s been two years since the divorce, and Dana has moved on. She’s killing it at her law firm, she’s never looked better, thanks to all those healthy meals she cooks, and she’s thrown away Ethan’s ratty old plaid recliner. She hardly thinks about her husband—ex-husband—anymore, or about how the man she’d known since college ran away to the Southwest with a yoga instructor, spouting spiritual claptrap that Dana still can’t comprehend.

But when she sees Ethan’s picture splashed across the front page of the New York Post—”Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave”—Dana discovers she hasn’t fully let go of Ethan or the past. The article implies that it was a murder-suicide, and Ethan’s to blame. How could the man she once loved so deeply be a killer? Restless to find answers that might help her finally to let go, Dana begins to dig into the mystery surrounding Ethan’s death. Sifting through the clues of his life, Dana finds herself back in the last years of their marriage . . . and discovers that their relationship—like Ethan’s death—wasn’t what it appeared to be.

A novel of marriage, meditation, and all the spaces in between, Soulmates is a page-turning mystery, a delicious satire of our feel-good spiritual culture, and a nuanced look at contemporary relationships by one of the sharpest writers working today.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Judith Ebenstein

About Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a writer and editor. She was previously a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, Marie Claire, Spin, and several other publications, and on Salon.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Find out more about Jessica at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

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