Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Sunday Salon – Rolling Along

June 1, 2008

It is an absolutely gorgeous day here outside of Chicago.  This is quite lucky, as our church met outside this morning.  We don’t have our own building yet and generally meet in a local high school.  However, this weekend said high school is having their graduation, so instead we met at the gazebo in the little town center.  Brian and I decided that today would be a good day to try to ride our bikes down to the service.  It was between 30 and 45 minutes down there, we had church, everyone hung out for a bit on the lawn, Brian and I rode up to lunch and sat outdoors, rode over to the bike shop to pick up more accessories, and finally rode home (found short cut that only took just over 20 minutes).  Suffice as to say, I’m a bit sunburned and have not gotten a lot of reading done.

This week was a book club week for me, which are always fun.  Our book this month was “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides.  Those of us who read it really quite enjoyed it (you can see my review here).  Our wine for the night was Albarino which is a white from Spain.  I must say, I thought better of the book than of the wine.  Of course, I’m more of a red wine girl.  If it is too hot for red wine, I’d generally prefer a mojito or a daquiri to a glass of white wine.  It was a good time overall, however.  We aren’t able to meet in June, so we’re going to read “The Double Bind” together with “The Great Gatsby” and discuss them both in July. 

The other good thing about book club is the extra time it gives me.  I work in Chicago, and all of the girls in my book/wine club actually live in the city, as I used to do.  Brian and I live a way out in the Chicago suburbs.  If I were to drive home after work and before book club, I’d have just enough time to get comfortable enough that I would never want to leave again.  So instead, I generally either babysit for a friend so she can go out, or I sit at my office when everyone’s gone and just read.  This month was a ‘just read’ sort of month.  I sat at my desk for about three hours and just read.  I finished up “Have I got a Guy for You” (review here) and started a “The Leper Compound,” which was sent to me by Literary Ventures Fund.  I’m also working on an ARC of “Alive in Necropolis,” which is not at all the sort of book I would normally read, but I am enjoying it so far.  the plot has something to do with vengeful ghosts, although that hasn’t become a huge part of the action yet. 

Well, Saloners, I’m off to do some work around the house so I can do some more reading tonight!  Make sure to check out my big contest, there are only a couple more days to enter.  I will likely announce winners either Tuesday or Wednesday.  You can win ANY book I have reviewed so far. 

“In Praise of Book Clubs”

May 21, 2008

Post 83:

I am the guest post today in LisaM’s series “In Praise of Book Clubs” over at Books on the Brain.  Go on over and check it out!

Water for Elephants – Book Review

March 29, 2008

Water for Elephants book coverWater For Elephants by Sarah Gruen is the story of an old man in a nursing home remembering his life as a young man living in the United States during the Great Depression.  His life seems secure, he is studying to be a veterinarian at an Ivy league school and has plans to return home and join his father’s business.  Jacob’s world is turned upside down when his parents are killed in a car accident and he discovers that they have no money: his father has been taking payment by goods and services for years, because he cannot bear to see an animal suffer.

Mere hours from graduation, Jacob cannot muster the strength to take his final exam.  Not knowing where to go, Jacob jumps a train that turns out to be the Benzini Brothers Circus.  From there he gets involved with Marlena, Rosie, August, Kinko, Camel, and the rest of the circus. 

The nursing home scenes were very touching, I really got emotionally involved with Jacob, especially so in these scenes where is he trying to simply continue to live his life and felt he was being thwarted, thus his need to retreat into the past.  The fact that he was by and large a good man made soem of his cowardly decisions that much more difficult, but overall you could feel that he was trying to do the right thing. 

Other than August and Uncle Al and a couple of their henchmen, all of Gruen’s characters were flawed yet likeable, very human.  The only thing that ruined the book for me was the statement that Gruen made that the backbone of her story is the biblical story of Jacob.  The example that is cited in the questions in the back of the book is that both Jacobs at one point lay on their backs with their head on a stone.  Wow, great, they were both guys too!  And their names were both Jacob!  I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it, other than perhaps some very grand, very overarching themes.

As I mentioned before, this was our book for book club, which was held last night.  My book club LOVED this book.  We started talking about it before everyone got there because we just could not wait.  We even started talking about it before the wine tasting, which NEVER happens.  We had a grand old time discussing it, too, after the wine tasting (we were trying Tempranillos, by the way). 

Buy this book on Amazon: Water for Elephants: A Novel

Book Clubs

February 29, 2008

I am very excited, because tonight I am going to a meeting of my book club. It is perhaps one of the most fun book clubs around. Instead of being purely a book club, it is a book and wine club. A friend of mine and her roommate decided to start this one year ago. They each invited some friends, and asked them to invite some friends, figuring this was a way for everyone to meet some new girlfriends and have fun and learn a little something.

We start the night with the wine (it gets us nice and talkative for the book discussion, plus this way people can sober up during the book discussion, so everyone can get home safely). Each month we do a different variety of wine, this month is Pinot Noir. Everyone brings a different bottle of the wine of the month. We read about the wine The Everything Wine Book and Wine for Dummies and similar books, then we pour small tastes of each wine and compare and discuss the wines. We have learned lots of great stuff. For example: Pinot Grigio has been quite over-planted, but is still very good when it is from Northern Italy, look for Pinot Grigio labeled ‘Friuli’.

Once we thoroughly understand our wine, we get on to the book. We tend to talk mostly about the parts of the book that really struck us, and occasionally get into character motivations and other such things. Occasionally, like with The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, the conversations end up getting very deep and personal. You have GOT to love books, outside of therapy, why else would people who really don’t know each other that well, share personal, sometimes painful things about their lives and families, if it wasn’t brought up by the shared experience of a book? Our book for tonight is Three Cups of Tea, which I have read before but am re-reading. This book is also going to serve as my first non-U.S/Euro-centric book for my Reading Around the World challenge, so look for Pakistan to be lit up soon on my map!