Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

First, let me apologize for not writing in so long. I have had a crazy life the last few weeks, but I am back in full-swing. Without further ado, I give you my next book review.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Worth the read: Absolutely, if you like wine, Northern California, cute books with an intellectual side, or you've ever had your heart broken

When I won this book from a Simon & Schuster giveaway, I couldn't have been more excited. I was excited because it was a book about a place close to home - Northern California's wine country. The locations in the book did not disappoint. I could always picture where the characters were in California - Sebastopol, Napa. Having grown up in Sacramento, I don't often find books that take place close to home, so, I was excited this one did. Maybe that creates a bit of a bias for why I like it so much, but I still think it's worth the read and I will explain why.

The book opens with quirky Georgia traveling from LA to her family's vineyard in Northern California. Georgia is a down-on-her-luck lawyer who readers will immediately fall in love with. Unfortunately, she's the only character I fell in love with. I found myself wanting to get to know the other characters more and I wanted more scenes (Dang it, Laura Dave, Write more next time!!). I liked a lot of the other characters, I just needed more of them! I also felt like some of the characters could have been focused on less to give us room to learn more about the other characters. I wanted to get to know Ben, Jacob, and Gerogia's Dad so much more than 250-ish pages would allow. I didn't necessarily care so much about Georgia's brothers, Margaret, or Georgia's lawyer friend. There could have been less of them (or more pages in the book) to focus more on that. But I could just be being selfish here.

The story deals with trials and tribulations of love at many different stages of relationships. anyone who has ever been in love, from the first falling to falling out of love, will relate to some part of the novel. It is more than just love stories between people, too, it is also a love story between a family and a vineyard.

The book also discusses the process of wine-making, which was fascinating, even to someone who can count on one hand the number of glasses of wine she has had this year. I like feel-good books that incorporate intellectual things, so, it was a win there.

Laura Dave's writing style was excellent for this type of novel. It blended dialogue and description. Georgia was the perfect person to have tell this story. My one complaint remains that Dave just needed to WRITE MORE.

Overall, I think people should do themselves a favor and read this book. No, it won't be the most profound thing you have ever read, but it's a feel good book with fantastic writing. Also, readers get to learn a little something and that something just happens to be wine.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Literary Boyfriends Vol. 1

If you read as much as I do, you probably occasionally fantasize about literary characters and what it would be like to date them. There are three I would like to spotlight for the week:

  1. Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre - I have to choose a classic. Although he can be a bit douchey to Jane, you can't help but have a little crush on him. Yes, he does weird manipulative things (what was him dressing up as that gypsy?) and, yes, he is keeping a woman in his attic (and his wife at that), but there is something so charming. He is constantly described as plain and average, and so is Jane, but he is one you can't help but wonder about. He's rich, has a good house, is intense, and seems to genuinely care about Jane.
  2. Lane from Franny and Zooey - I know Lane seems like an odd choice for a boyfriend - he is the boy Franny is trying to break up with. She has fallen out of love with him and his boring ivy league education. But Franny is a spoiled brat and Lane wants to give her the world. I think we have all been on both sides of loving someone who doesn't return the feeling. Lane is sweet and reserved and a little weak, but there is something about him that makes me wonder.
  3. Amory Blane from This Side of Paradise - when that book closes with "I know myself and that is all' I just want to scream "KNOW ME TOO...KNOW ME TOO." This Side of Paradise brings us through Amory's boyhood and his young adulthood, including all of the relationships. I always think that if I date someone like Amory, I will be his Eleanor Savage, a ship that passes in the night. There will always be something there, lingering, but we will have been too stubborn to act on it.
Who are some of your literary boyfrieds?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Library Round-Up: May 11

I try to make it to the library at least once a week. Even though I live in a town with a relatively small library collection, I am always amazed at what I can find.

My May 11 Library Round-Up

1. Zoo by James Patterson

A guilty-pleasure of mine is James Patterson novels. No matter how much of a literary snob I may be at times, there is no denying they are page turners. This one is turning into a mini-series on CBS and I am excited to both read the book and see what they do with it. James Patterson movies usually end pretty good. Although if I am holding this to the standards of Kiss the Girls I may be in for utter disappointment.

2. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I am also a Jodi Picoult fan. Although some of her books can get a little redundant, I have heard The Storyteller is not one to miss. Plus, I met Jodi Picoult 5 years ago when House Rules came out, so I will always have a special place in my heart for her. 

Bonus fact: She is surprisingly one of the bubbliest people. Ever. If you ever have a chance to see her, go.

3. Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

I was first attracted to this cover because it had bicycles. And then I saw the name. I have a character in a book I am writing that I call Golden Boy (simply for lack of finding the perfect name). And then I saw that it was about someone who is intersex. I am always looking for books to expand my mind.

4. Palo Alto by James Franco

I may hate myself for this. BUUUUT, I am curious. I've always been curious. I just need to quench that curiosity. 

5. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

I am a few years behind on this trend, but this one has been on my list for a long time. Plus, I like those cute book clubby reads.

6. Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

I have never seen the movie, but I know how it ends. Even still, I'm a sucker for cute tearjerkers and I will probably see the movie after reading the book. Double Whammy.

7. Finding It by Cara Carmack

Every once in a while, I need a bubblegum, romantic chick-flick. I found this. I hate to admit how excited I am to read it. I haven't read Cora Carmack's other novels, but depending on this one, I just might.

8. Secret Society Girl: An Ivy League Novel by Diana Peterfreund

I've always wanted to check out some of Diana Peterfreund's work and this gives me the opportunity to not only do that, but be reminded of my college days as well.

Have you read any of these books? Are they worth the read or should I skip some of them? 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

ZOOMA Napa Half Marathon

My next half marathon will be ZOOMA Napa on June 20. It will be just in time for my birthday.

To familiarize myself with California's Wine Country, I am reading Laura Dave's Eight Hundred Grapes (review to come later in the week), as I just won an advanced copy from Simon and Schuster.

I also have a playlist going for my half. Here it is:

  • "Gimme More" by Britney Spears (because it starts with "It's Britney, b*tch and my name is Brittany. Good starting motivation)
  • "Movin'"by Group1Crew
  • "My Mistake" by Cam
  • "Yeah" by Usher, Lil John
  • "Toxic" by Britney Spears
  • "Say What You Say" by Eminem
  • "Walkashame" by Meghan Trainor
  • "I Love Rock'n'Roll" by Britney Spears
  • "When The Music Stops" by Eminem
  • "Fragile" by Kenrick Lamar, Tech N9NE
  • "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town (as kind of a take it easy, cool down kind of song)
  • "Work B*tch" by Britney Spears
  • "Stronger" by Kanye West
  • "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera
  • "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk
  • "To Write Love On Her Arms" by Helio
  • "Remember The Name" by Fort Minor
  • "I'm a Slave (4 U)" by Britney Spears
  • "Survivor" by Destiny's Child
  • "Til I Collapse" by Eminem
  • "DONE." by The Band Perry
What else should I add? I need to double the length of this playlist for my half marathon. Anything you can't run without?

Monday, May 4, 2015

My Half-Marathon and a Bookish Update

Aside from books, I have a love for running. Although this blog mainly deals with books, I wanted to some photos my (first) half marathon. Also, I'd love to review some books (memoirs, fiction, anything) about running. If any runners or readers have any suggestions, please let me know.

First: Here is a few pictures of the trail:

On the beach the night before, I decided to write in the sand to get pumped about my race:

The start of the race:


 What we were all waiting for, folks. Our medals.


The night before my race was Independent Bookstore Day, so, naturally, I had to go to an independent bookstore and get something.

My Score:
Bicycles by Nikki Giovanni
What Is This Thing Called Love by Kim Addonizio
The Dream Keeper A Langston Hughes Collection.