Book & Wine Wednesday! Reading Sara Review: You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein

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You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein

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Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 12, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 8/10

Reading Sara Review: In general, I believe we should laugh more, especially when reading books. And in the summer, I like nothing better than a witty book that makes me laugh out loud (even if my husband gets annoyed because he is trying to sleep). Jessi Klein mastered the comedy book writing in You’ll Grow Out of It. Klein is humorous, real, self-deprecating in a non-depressing way, and is someone that I would love to drink a glass (or six) of wine with. I am so glad that I put this high on my Summer Reading Part 2 list this year!

You’ll Grow Out of It is a quick read – another plus for me – she doesn’t just talk about getting famous, or complain the entire time about writing a book (ahem, Amy Poehler), she writes about embarrassing moments, mistakes, and triumphs. This book is part memoir/part compilation of essays. Klein is the head writer for Inside Amy Schumer, and her style translates perfectly to a book.

My favorite part? Klein devotes an entire chapter to Anthropologie. Her accurate description of what happens when you wear a cute dress from Anthropologie happens to me at least once a week. But below is my favorite quote about Anthro.

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“…the store is putting on the primordial pleasure center located deep within some cerebral coil. As soon as I see their faux-old barrel filled with faux-vintage glass doorknobs, or rest my eyes on a sweater with an embroidered kangaroo that has an actual pocket where the kangaroo’s pocket is, I feel a sense of safety and inner peace. I feel prettier and girlier and a little thinner. I feel emotionally at home.”

While the Anthropologie chapter (and the chapter on The Bachelor, also a great one) are less serious, she covers serious issues such as her struggle with infertility, taking risks in her career and serious depression after a break-up. Klein is a remarkable comedian. I truly believe there is something for everyone in this book. If you are in need of a good laugh, pick this one up.

Wine Recommendation: Earlier this summer, I promised to talk about orange wine, which I believe is the next rosé (coming from a rosé lover, this is saying a lot). I first experienced orange wine in Paris, because, where else?

Orange wine is not, in fact, made from oranges. It is real wine, made from grapes. The color looks slightly more like beer, hence the term, orange wine. If you are at a wine store, they may prefer you ask for “skin-fermented wine” which is the official name. Skin-fermented wine is made from white wine grapes, keeping the skin and seeds with the grapes longer to get a unique flavor, more like red wines. And it works!

Not everyone likes orange wine. I thought it tasted sort of like kombucha. I have also heard fruity or like honey. Either way, if you see it on a restaurant menu or in a wine store, give it a try. Because then you can sound hip and cool when it does become the next rosé – you will already be ahead of the curve!

Here is a picture of our orange wine in France, which paired perfectly with oysters!

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Book & Wine Wednesday! Reading Sara Review: The Sound of Glass, by Karen White

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Review: The Sound of Glass, by Karen White

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Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition (April 5, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 7.5/10

 

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Reading Sara Review: Maybe I started my Summer Reading Part 1 in the wrong order, because so far, my second half reads have been much better than the first half. The Sound of Glass was the first book I have read by Karen White, but will not be the last. White has a way of taking the reader, even those of us who have never lived or been to a place like Beaufort, South Carolina, and make us feel the humid air and to feel like we are there.

The Sound of Glass is the perfect combination of summer reading – not only is it available in paperback, but there is also a mystery, romance, healing of the soul, and threads of a family that slowly unwrap to something lovely. And it’s all wrapped up with southern charm.

The story begins with Edith, who is painting when she hears screams, loud noises, and smells smoke.When her and her son, CJ, run outside, they discover their neighbors in the same panic – a plane has crashed above their quiet town, and debris is flying everywhere. The story transitions to Merritt, who has recently discovered she inherited a home in Beaufort that was left to her husband, who died two years previously. Merritt packed up her life in Maine to start a new one in South Carolina, away from the ghosts of her past, but unknowingly approaching new ghosts.

Merritt is looking for some peace and quiet to start her new life – but that is immediately uprooted when her step-mother arrives with her ten-year-old half-brother on the day she is moving in.

The story is mostly focused around Merritt but jumps back to Edith’s time to provide ample backstory to explain the characters and their motives. The southern phrases and little pieces of wisdom were a little cutesie for me, but it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of this lighter read, which incidentally, had a heavy topic behind it.

The story unravels at a perfect pace for summer – it is a quick read, but didn’t feel like it. Some of it is predictable, but I love that in a summer beach read! If you have any beach adventures coming up for the end of summer, definitely pick this one up for your beach bag.

Wine Recommendation

Ok, I’m cheating a little today. But what I am recommending to you is ah-mazing and perfect to toss in with your paperback of The Sound of Glass in your beach bag (since most beaches don’t allow glass).

Rosé Gummy Bears. Yep, you read that right. This exists and it is everything I hoped it would be. It sold out in the first two hours of being announced to the world – but I was lucky enough to get the second wave shipment.

Here’s why I am cheating: the alcohol apparently burns off during the cooking process, so these don’t actually have any alcohol in them. But, what they do have is delicious flavor.

Check them out at sugarfina!

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Book & Wine Wednesday! Reading Sara Review: Along the Infinite Sea, by Beatriz Williams

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Book Review: Along the Infinite Sea, by Beatriz Williams

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Hardcover: 464 pages

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (November 3, 2015)

Reading Sara Review: 7.5/10

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Reading Sara Review: Beatriz Williams does not let me down with her summer beach reads. She consistently weaves two stories together and does it with such perfection that I hardly notice when it changes.

Along the Infinite Sea is the third (and final book) in her Schuyler Sisters Series, this one about Pepper. Pepper finds herself in the south, pregnant, alone and being chased by her baby daddy’s employees in the 1960s when she stumbles upon Annabelle Dommerich when selling a car that she recently restored. Annabelle  gives us the second piece of the story: a young woman who falls in love in France on the precipice of World War 2 with a Jewish man and their love saga. Even without the World War 2 historical fiction piece, this is a fun book to read.

Annabelle is a character that I will not soon forget – she is a survivor, a strong female who is capable and inspiring. William’s ability to create love stories is unmatched. This makes her books perfect summer reads. There is a hint of melodrama, a bit of cheese, and a happy ending. Even if you haven’t read the other books in this trio, it’s good as a standalone book. The more you read of her novels, the more fun it is as characters from other books pop in and out of each.

For an interview with the author, head over to Dream by Day blog – one of my favorites! She talks about her latest book, which I cannot wait to read!

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Wine Recommendation: One thing that I find consistent in William’s stories is taking me back to Paris – wishing I was sipping champagne at the Ritz with Annabelle. Even if I can’t do that, I can sip champagne! Sit down on a Saturday with this book and pour yourself a glass of champs. I believe it is a myth that champagne has to be expensive to be good (yes, there are some great expensive ones). Pop your favorite summer fruit into Champagne Montaudon for around $35, close your eyes, and pretend you are in France. Or, even better, thanks to G.P. Putnam and Sons Pinterest board, try out the Ritz Champagne Cocktail!

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Book & Wine Wednesday! Reading Sara Review of The Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie Benjamin

Books & Wine Wednesday!

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The Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie Benjamin

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Hardcover: 368 pages

Publisher: Delacorte Press (January 26, 2016)

Reading Sara Rating: 7/10 – a fun book, well-written and a quick, easy read!

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Reading Sara Review: Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, and the Swans of Fifth Avenue was no exception. Telling the story of Truman Capote and his headline-making, fashionistas through their friendship and the ultimate fallout was a treat from start to finish. This is not the best book I will read this year, but it is fun to take a step back in time and enjoy the lives of the rich and famous.

This is not a spoiler, because this is historically accurate, but gives useful context to the book: Capote had a group of socialite ladies that he adored and adored him – he called them his swans. During their friendship, Truman published a work in Esquire, called “La Côte Basque 1965,’ betraying his swans secrets and trust. They never forgave him –and it is unclear if he forgave himself. After its publishing, Truman was a New York outcast and his decline into alcoholism and drugs became severe. La Côte Basque 1965 was supposed to be a part of his unfinished book, Answered Prayers.

Truman Capote was a character – while utterly brilliant in his writing, he was a gossip, obsessed with fame (and fortune) and beauty. I believe his friendship with Babe Paley was real and sincere.  Benjamin expertly guides the reader through their friendship, imagining some intimate and beautiful moments – so the reader is left wondering why did he betray Babe (and the other swans)? And did Babe forgive him at the end of her life?

Babe Paley is a marvelous character. She was smart, beautiful, and her mother raised her to be a good wife. Truman offers her an escape from that world for a time – allows her to laugh and show him a different side. She is just fabulous because she is full of flaws. My favorite parts of this book were the stories about Babe. I hurt for her, wanted her to fight to be so much more than she was, and was saddest for her when Truman broke her heart.

Ultimately, this is a story about friendship. The friendships between the women – who have affairs with each other’s husbands, fall in love with the wrong men and don’t confide in each other because they want everything to appear perfect and exquisite. In an age when appearances matter most, how was true friendship measured?  I think that their friendships relied on the secret-keeping, which is why the swans felt so betrayed when Truman exposed them and their lives to the public.

If you are a fan of Truman Capote’s, or just a fan of socialites, this book will be a fun treat. Benjamin creates a beautiful world for the reader to explore – and does not offer up answers to the many questions that you will have when you finish, but allows you to explore them on your own, which is just as fun.

For further reading on Truman Capote and the backlash of La Côte Basque 1965 and the unfinished manuscript mystery, I recommend this fun Vanity Fair article. And, if you don’t have time to read the book, this article gives some great socialite drama scoop.

Wine Recommendation: Many people think that rosé is just for the summertime: I’m here to tell you that it is a wine for all seasons, and you can find a delightful rose to pair with your winter reading. Because this book is about fancy people, I recommend a Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. These are going to be a little more interesting, deeper flavor, and you can feel elegant while still finding a bottle for under $20. I like them because of their peppery and currant flavor, but sometimes they can have high acidity because they are not aged in oak. They pair well with everything from a hearty salad to pasta – again, entirely drinkable in the winter! The brands that I recommend are Mira Winery (Napa Valley), Mulderbosch (South Africa) and Chateau Bonnet (Bordeaux).

 

Book & Wine Wednesday! Reading Sara Review: Modern Romance, By Aziz Ansari

Book & Wine Wednesday

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Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari

modern romanceHardcover: 288 pages

Publisher: Penguin Press (June 16, 2015)

Rating: 7/10

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Reading Sara Review: I might be late to the game with this book because most Ansari fans have probably already read this book. I recommended it on my Holiday Gift Guide for your single brother – but I will also recommend it to you – because it is fun for people whether or not they are in a relationship.

Ansari partnered with sociologist, Eric Klinenberg, to take a look at how romance, dating, and relationships have changed in the digital age. The change in the dating scene is something that I talk about with my friends often (even though many of us are married!). The stigma of meeting people online has drastically reduced in the past ten years but that doesn’t make it any less stressful for single people to meet each other and make a connection. I not only love my husband but am also grateful that I do not have to be a part of the dating game in this day and age, it honestly sounds exhausting.

Ansari is hilarious, which makes this book enjoyable. When I first picked it up* I was not sure how it could be so long. How long can you talk about the current dating world? Isn’t a lot of it obvious? People base their opinion of people off of text messages; people are often looking for something better than the person they are dating, and with all of the choices out there – how are people supposed to choose just one person? Luckily, Ansari keeps the reader engaged through his humor, his constant talk of food, and his insight that he gathers through focus groups across the world.

Read this if you are interested in sociology, the dating world, or Ansari himself – you won’t be disappointed. But, as a heads up, there are some parallels between his new Netflix show Master of None and this book and some of his more recent stand-up comedy. A lot of the same points are made, or similar storylines – but that did not make it less enjoyable for me. I have enjoyed watching Aziz Ansari evolve and grow up. His humor is still excellent; it has just matured as he talks about important issues (feminism, relationships, and family).

*I recommend the actual book of this one (hardcover now, or you can wait for a paperback).  I have multiple friends who have listened to the audiobook (which Ansari reads himself) and said that it was funny, and he makes fun of the reader quite a bit for listening and not reading it. However, there are graphs and charts throughout that you miss out on via the audiobook. I have not personally had good luck with reading charts on my Kindle, but an iPad or another device might be better.

Wine Recommendation

If you are single in this world, I hope that you like wine. I bet you need it. If you are not single, I hope that you like wine too, because wine is delicious. Ansari travels a bit for his research to LA, Wichita, New York, Argentina, Japan and France. I think that this book calls for a spicy Malbec, and not just while you are in the Argentina chapter.

I love Malbec because you can have a really great bottle for under $20, and it is still more exotic than a Cab or Merlot (to impress friends or dates with, naturally). The 2011 Tilia Malbec is a classic in my book, and I have found it for as low as $11.  Whether you have this glass before a date, or with your date, it will be interesting enough to be a conversation starter.

Book & Wine Wednesday! Last Minute Gift Buying for your Book and/or Wine Loving Friends & Family!

Book & Wine Wednesday Special Feature

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I will be the first to admit that I haven’t finished my holiday shopping. I usually get a pretty good head start with most of my family, and then get distracted and fail to complete my shopping promptly and have to suffer through going to the mall around the holidays.

So, if you have not finished your shopping, or thinking about grabbing a little something extra, I bring you the first Reading Sara Book & Wine Wednesday Gift Buying Feature! Bonus: you can still use Amazon Prime and get everything in time!

For your niece: If she loved The Fault in Our Stars and all of Rainbow Rowell’s books, she would devour Everything Everything, by Nicola Yoon. I devoured it, too, so you may want to sneak in a quick read before wrapping it. Everything Everything is a great coming-of-age story about a girl who learns to explore her world inside her head and outside, and, because it’s YA, it includes a lovely love story.

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For your crafty, travel-loving friend: Paris Coloring Book by Min Heo. I picked up this bright orange Paris Coloring Book in San Diego over the weekend. I can’t wait to color everything from Notre Dame to baguettes to the Seine. Pair the book with some beautiful colored pencils and you will be giving your adventure-loving friend hours of relaxation and dreaming in the coming New Year.

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For your work BFF: She’s the one who listens to you complain and always has a hug to give you. I recommend a badass book for this badass friend. The book, You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero is a great confidence-booster and reminder to her that she is totally awesome.

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For your sister who graduated in May and has not quite figured it all out yet:  Adulting: How to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps, by Kelly Williams Brown. Adulting is a must read for any out-on-their-own-for-the-first-timer. I went to college with the author, so am biased toward her brilliance, but truly wish I had a book like this when I was 22! It is full of creative wit with sound advice.

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For your single brother: I am a huge Aziz Ansari fan, and I bet your brother is too. Help him out with Ansari’s newest book Modern Romance. Buy the hardback, not the Kindle version of this one!

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For your Mom: I think it is a fact that all women over 55 love Robert Redford and they especially loved him in the movie Out of Africa. I recommend treating your mom to the new Paula McLain Book, Circling the Sun, reviewed by yours truly here, and the Out of Africa movie for a girl’s night in. Throw in a bottle of bubbly, recommended here, some popcorn and chocolate, and you are in for a special evening!

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For your Sister-in-Law: I have a sister-in-law who is the absolute best and very much like a real sister to me. If you are as lucky as I am, you will want to get her something special. For my birthday, she bought me the complete Jane Austen Book Set from Penguin. Trust me, your sister-in-law (or real sister) will love this gift. They are so beautiful and a perfect decoration for her shelf, and (obviously) classic books to pick up and read when she needs her Jane Austen-fix. She will be surprised and delighted to find a thoughtful gift like this under the tree! Jane Austen, the Complete Works can be found on Amazon.

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For your boyfriend/husband: If he has not read the Song of Ice & Fire Series by George R.R. Martin yet, the entire set is a great gift that will last him months (this is that Game of Thrones thing that all of your friends keep talking about…but the books, which are great). If he has already read them, spruce up his collection with these pretty ones!

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For your BFF: Almost Famous Women: Stories, by Megan Mayhew Bergman. First of all, the cover itself told me that this would be the next favorite book of mine. I will post a review of this one soon, but in the meantime, I plan to give it to some of my favorite women this holiday season!

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For your other BFF: Humans of New York: Stories, by Brandon Stanton. This book came out in October and is an incredible compilation of stories that will inspire and astound you. Grab a favorite bottle of wine and read the book together!

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For Your Book Club: You all worked hard this year! Don’t forget to treat your group to something special for the next meeting! I recommend California Sparkling Wine, made by One Hope. Every bottle provides 15 meals to a child in need…So you are drinking a beautiful bottle of bubbly, talking about great books, and helping kids eat…seems like a pretty good deal to me!

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Good luck with your holidays! Don’t forget to buy yourself a book (or two or three!).

Book & Wine Wednesday! Reading Sara Review: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

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Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

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Rating: 4/5

Hardcover: 240 pages

Publisher: Crown Archetype; First Edition edition (September 15, 2015)

Reading Sara Review: Reading Why Not Me? was sort of like hanging out with a best friend in your pajamas watching re-runs, telling funny dating stories and laughing. It felt like the perfect Book & Wine Wednesday post because of this – though if you are an introvert like me, reading it on a Friday night with your drink to unwind from your week might be preferable.

This book is primarily made of essays that sometimes go together, and sometimes have nothing to do with each other, except that they are snippets into Mindy’s life. Whether she is telling the story of a 4-month friendship with a popular LA girl, her dating mishaps, or her encounters with President Obama, Mindy is continuously a sharp-witted, real and great writer. This book is a quick read, not in the Gone Girl page-turner sense, but the stories are fun and the writing smooth. It would be a great book for a longer flight or a Friday night in (which is how I chose to read it recently!). This book was on my fall TRB list, and I’m glad that I finally read it.

Mindy Kaling is one hard working woman. I cannot believe that she had time to write this book while writing and starring in her television show “The Mindy Project.” I assume that she was already writing this when Fox canceled her show and she transitioned it to Hulu, so that makes it even more impressive that it was finished. It is clear that she loves to write, gets energy from making people laugh and has fun telling her stories. She jokes about how often she hears that people want to be her friend/best friend and that she doesn’t understand why. I understand why. I want to be her friend too. She sounds fun, she appears down-to-earth even though she has been hugely successful (her bit about how excited she was that Malia Obama had read her first book was adorable). She is very much the everygirl’s girl. And who doesn’t want a friend like that?

If you are a Mindy Kaling fan, you have probably already read this book. If you haven’t heard of Mindy yet, I recommend her book for a light-hearted read – I promise, you too will be impressed by how hard-working she is. She deserves the accolades and the recognition because she has earned it.

Wine Recommendation: Well, it’s winter here in Colorado, so I thought I would bring you a wine mixed with something else for a fun holiday cocktail – no matter what holiday you might be celebrating or avoiding. I like a Ginger Sparkler this time of year – bubbly but sort of makes you feel healthy with ginger…sort of. You might be thinking that this is a bit fancy for a Wednesday night – well, I truly believe that any occasion can be special, even if you are drinking by yourself reading. Why not make it classy?

Ginger Sparkler, based off of a recipe from, with a few Reading Sara Additions

2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger

½ cup of sugar

1 bottle dry, sparkling wine

½ cup of Domain de Canton

Citrus Fruit for Garnish (I like grapefruit this time of year, but feel free to experiment!)

  1. In a saucepan, boil the ginger, sugar and ¼ cup of water to make syrup. Pour through a sieve and discard solid bits.
  2. In a large jar, mix sparkling wine, Domaine de Canton and juice of fruit garnish
  3. Pour about a tablespoon of syrup into glasses, top with sparkling wine mixer
  4. Add the fruit garnish and serve!