Review: The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

shoemakers wifeHere’s the description from

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

First Impressions: Really hoping for a romantic love story.

Final Thoughts: I got that but much more. Yes, there was the love between Enza and Ciro, but this is also a story about the immigrant experience. And how hard it is to leave your home and your family behind to go to a new country. I loved every bit of it.

Favorite Part: Besides Enza and Ciro’s relationship, I’d have to say the parts that take place in Italy. The scenery just sounds so gorgeous. It brings you back to a simpler time before TV and cell phones and apps. (though not really so simple I guess because life was tough and people died a lot more easily, but still….) Enza and Ciro left before the war, and their villages back home often seemed like innocent places where the inhabitants were shielded from much of life’s horrors and hardships.

Goes well with: I don’t know any Italian beers… I’m going to go with one I associate with hardworking people because my dad drank it: Yuengling Black and Tan. Both Ciro and Enza worked so hard to provide for their families, so it’s only appropriate.

Title: The Shoemaker’s Wife
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Date of Publication: 2012
Genre: Fiction
Source: Nook

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Notes on Reading 7/24/16

Anyone else find it really hard to stay focused on a book when it is SO DAMN hot out?!

I can barely function.

Needless to say, this is why winter is my favorite season and snow is my favorite type of weather. I’ve been daydreaming all day about what I’m going to spend my days doing once fall and winter get here.

I’m currently in the middle of Daniel Jose Older’s 2nd Bone Street Rumba book, Midnight Taxi Tango, and so far it is just as awesome as the first one. Definitely my kind of book.

Besides that, I’m currently listening to Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore on audio and loving it. I want to join a secret book society. Seriously. Maybe I’ll make my own…

Turning off the computer now because it is already heating up! Stay cool! I’m drinking the only thing I can stomach when it’s this hot: cheap ice cold beer.


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Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

between the world and meHere’s the description:

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

First Impressions: I have to be honest here. I knew it had gotten rave reviews, but when I first started reading I had to catch myself almost immediately. I was judging without knowing anything about Coates or his background or his life. I was thinking okay, you’re mad. But I did nothing to you. I know that mindset is wrong, but I think it’s a reflex humans have. To deny the truth when it makes you or your history look bad. I’m just glad I knew I was doing it because I’m sure many people don’t, which then doesn’t open up their minds to different things. I started off taking this book as a personal affront to me.

Final Thoughts: What a powerful book. I mean, as you read above, I caught myself being an asshole. As I read Coates’ story, this letter to his son, I tried to put myself into his shoes. Into his ancestors shoes. And it was painful.

Favorite Part: How the book made me think. How it made me change the way I view the world. I used to be a more passive person, and now I think a lot more about what I can do do make things better.

Goes well with: A strong, thick stout like Guinness or Wolaver’s.

Title: Between the World and Me
Author: Ta-Nehisi Coate5
Date of Publication: 2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Personal Copy

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Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

roomsHere’s the description:

A tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

First Impressions: Intrigued.  I’d heard a lot about it at BEA a couple years ago when I went, and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since.

Final Thoughts: Blown away.  Definitely recommending it to everyone and already made my little sister read it.

Favorite Part: For one, the family dynamics.  It portrays the real shit that goes on so well.  Also, how the ghosts are portrayed.  They are there, but they’re not.  Not physically at least. They are just a “part” of the house.  It’s exactly how I’ve often felt it must be like to be a ghost.  I’m obsessed with ghosts and this really struck a chord with me.  I still can’t get over how much the book resonated with me.  Highly recommend it.

Goes well with: I’m gonna go with Gin & Tonic, even though that’s not a beer.  It’s just fits.

Title: Rooms
Author: Lauren Oliver
Date of Publication: 2014
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Copy

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Review: Stepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins

stepping to a new daytour hostHere’s the description:

In Henry Adams, Kansas, you can’t start over without stirring things up . . .

Many a good woman has had to leave a no-good man, but how many of them took a back-seat to his 600-lb. hog? On her own for the first time, Genevieve Gibbs is ecstatic, even if certain people preferred the doormat version of Ms. Gibbs. Finding someone who appreciates the “new” her has only just hit Gen’s to-do list when T.C. Barbour appears in her life.

A tiny Kansas town is a far cry from his native Oakland, California, but it’s just the change T. C. needs. While helping his divorced nephew acclimate to single fatherhood, T. C. lands a gig driving a limo for the most powerful woman in Henry Adams. It’s a great way to meet people—and one in particular has already made the job worthwhile. All it takes is a short trip from the airport for Genevieve to snag T.C.’s attention for good.

But it wouldn’t be Henry Adams without adding more drama to the mix. When Gen’s ex Riley returns with his hog in tow, it sets off a chain of events that can ruin everything—unless the residents pull together once again to save the day.

First Impressions: I had high hopes for this, since I’ve heard so much praise for Beverly Jenkins. This was my first time reading anything by her.

Final Thoughts: Loved it just as much as I had hoped.

Favorite Part: It was exactly what I needed right now. I’ve been busy with my sister’s wedding, and now that it’s over, I wanted a nice “feel good” book. That’s what I got with Stepping to a New Day.  It has it’s darker parts-there are people who have had to deal with losing loved ones, bad relationships, and inner demons. But it leaves you with a nice warm feeling inside. Perfect for a summer beach read, if you like your beach reads to be fun and refreshing and not too dense. I’m so glad I took a chance with this book, and can’t wait to read more by Beverly Jenkins.

Goes well with: Any sort of summer shandy beer. Something light and fruity on a hot day.

Title: Stepping to a New Day
Author: Beverly Jenkins
Date of Publication: 2016
Genre: Fiction
Source: TLC Tours

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Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

statistical probability of loveHere’s the description:

Four minutes changes everything. Hadley Sullivan 17 misses her flight at JFK airport, is late to her father’s second wedding in London with never-met stepmother. Hadley meets the perfect boy. Oliver is British, sits in her row. A long night on the plane passes in a blink, but the two lose track in arrival chaos. Can fate bring them together again?

First Impressions: Really hoping for a cute, quick love story that leaves my heart feeling full and happy.

Final Thoughts: All the happy feelings!!  Just what I wanted!

Favorite Part: How the book had just enough cute love story mixed with more serious things.  I love the idea of meeting someone and having that immediate connection with them (maybe because it was like that when I met my now fiance *wink*).  I really liked Hadley because she reminded me of myself when I was young, complaining about things that in the long run are actually not important at all.  She evolves as the story goes on, even though it’s a short book.  By the end she’s much more of an adult, less of a child who only thinks of herself.

Goes well with: Summer Love by Victory Brewing Co.

Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Date of Publication: 2012
Genre: Fiction
Source: Overdrive


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Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs

fangirls guideHere’s the description:

Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

First Impressions: This is going to be awesome.

Final Thoughts: OMG, this is every geeky girl’s dream.  How can you not devour it in one sitting?  What a little gem.

Favorite Part:

Goes well with: Turntable Pils by Great Lakes

Title: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks
Author: Sam Maggs
Date of Publication: 2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Personal (and signed!)

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