Book & Wine Wednesday is BACK! Reading Sara Review: Victoria, by Daisy Goodwin

Victoria, by Daisy Goodwin

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Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; 1st edition (November 22, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 5/10

Eligible Rating

Reading Sara Review: For those of you who could not stop watching The Crown and love a period drama and historical fiction, you will probably enjoy Victoria too. Victoria was written by Daisy Goodwin, who also wrote the screenplay for the PBS show by the same name. Full disclosure: I read the book first. I liked the show better. Hence the mediocre book rating.

For those who are not intimately acquainted with England’s royal line, Victoria was queen at the age of 18, in 1837, and ruled until her death in 1901. Victoria became queen when her uncle died, as well as his siblings (including Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent), all leaving no heirs. The book follows just her early days as being queen, trying to gain control out of her mother’s tightly controlled grasp, learn about politics, and her infatuation with her first Prime Minister.

I think the reason that the show was better, in my opinion, is that it simply moved faster. Victoria’s story is interesting in that she was young to the crown and seemingly not very prepared for it. But the show adds the right amount of drama and beautiful people to make the story come alive in an interesting way.

Summary: you can skip this book and just watch Victoria on PBS. The series ends pretty early on in her reign when she has her first child (she goes on to have 9 children, and reigns for over 63 years, so, if Goodwin wishes, there is probably a lot more material to cover!). So, whether you read the book or watch the show, I definitely recommend a glass of wine with it – because wine goes really well with historical fiction!

Wine Recommendation: In honor of Victoria’s German-born mother, I recommend a Reisling. Depending on your level of sweetness tolerability, I found this super helpful website that explains the labels of German Rieslings so that you can pick out exactly what you want! Now, grab a glass and sit back with this book – or tv show – and get lost in some wonderful dramatized historical fiction!

 

 

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Reading Sara Review: The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

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Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (July 19, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 6/10

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Reading Sara Review: I picked this one as part of my membership in the Book of the Month Club, which I will write a separate post about soon because it has bene an interesting experiment for me.

Admittedly, I don’t regularly read thrillers or mysteries, I tend to read the ones that become more mainstream (Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, etc.), but this one intrigued me. The premise is a group of people on a luxury cruise, and someone goes missing – only a certain number of suspects (very Agatha Christie-esque) to unravel the mystery. It seemed like a fun end of summer read.

I was not let down. I read this in just about two sittings. It wasn’t scary, but mysterious and full of fun twists and turns. The ending was not what I expected. Again, though, I am no mystery novel connoisseur.

This was my first Ruth Ware novel, but I would absolutely read more of her in the future for a quick weekend read. If you are still looking for a Labor Day Weekend book to devour, give this one a try. It’s not the best book you will read this year, but it will take your mind off of the end of summer. And, as most of these types of books go, you will also be left wondering how you would handle this drama!

Reading Sara Review: Radio Girls, by Sarah-Jane Stratford

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Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: NAL (June 14, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 7/10

modern romance

Reading Sara Review: Radio Girls was a quick and delightful read. Set in 1926, Masie begins a job at the BBC, a new radio company that is equally exciting and scary to the people of England. Masie starts as a secretary, and only plans on staying until she meets a suitable husband and gets married. All of that changes as she dives headfirst into this new world of broadcasting. She is thrilled to discover a passion that she didn’t know she previously possessed.

Masie is a good character in this to tell the story. But Hilda Matheson is the show-stealer. She is the sole female in charge of a department (1926, remember), and it is the popular Talks program. Matheson takes Masie under her wing, inviting her to parties with interesting people, encouraging her to dig into controversies and cultivating her passion for journalism. As Masie watches her challenge the formidable Mr. Reith, the director of the BBC, she sees that men like that can be challenged and that women have a voice too.

While Matheson was a real person, who really did revolutionize radio, the rest of the novel is just exciting historical fiction. Stratford kept the story moving with surprises, romance, and the intrigue of the radio as a source of information.

This would make a great ladies book club read because it deals with many of the things women in the workplace still deal with around gender equality.

Women today still have to work harder, fight for what they deserve more than they should. In this novel, Stratford expertly conveys the fear that men held for women having a voice, a vote, or even jobs. This reminds us how far women have come, certainly, but a goo reminder that there is still much work to be done.

I am glad that I read Radio Girls this summer as a part of my Summer Reading Part 2. It was fun, light, but still informative – everything I want with a summer book!.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

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Print Length: 386 Pages
Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (August 16, 2011)
Reading Sara Rating: 8/10 – A Good Book!

 

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Reading Sara Review: Ready Player One came highly recommended from friends whose book recommendations I trust, and they certainly did not let me down. This book was exciting, full of surprises and a creative look at the post-apocalyptic world. Our protagonist, Wade, comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He lives in 2044 and is an orphan, poor and hungry. His solace is similar to those around him – an online world called the Oasis. While the world around them is falling apart, most humans spend their days, money and time in this alternate universe. The story picks up when the Oasis founder passes away, leaving his fortune to whoever can find clues hidden within the Oasis, his “Easter egg.”

For fans of the 80s or kids who grew up playing classic video games, this book will bring back many memories. I have never been much for video games, but still enjoyed the plot full of friendship, betrayals, suspense and fun. There is a deeper, underlying message of what our world could potentially be going toward – the world where people are always plugged in, addicted to computers, and let our world crumble around us (cough, global warming, cough). This world that Cline created is easy to imagine. But not all of it is bad – kids can attend an online, virtual reality school where they get experiences that just aren’t possible in today’s classroom, not to mention that in this virtual world, there is no fear of violence in while in a classroom.

For those readers who did play these games (likely young men now in their 30s and 40s), this book will be great fun. Don’t shy away from it even if you weren’t the one geeking out to these games, it’s still a good read. There are questions of humanity, heroes vs. villains, who we are, what we believe in and much more. The book is deeper than just the quest for the Easter egg and the creator’s fortune.

In today’s world, we thrive on our identity – what clothes we wear, what career a person has, who our friends are, what we believe. In the Oasis world, they can create their identity – their avatar, names and friendships. What does that freedom allow that people desire? Perhaps, it is simply a connection to others in the world that is falling apart, or maybe a second chance at a life that you weren’t born. There are some moral dilemmas in this book, and a philosophy of life and the true purpose of our lifetime (spoiler alert, the answer isn’t just living in this other world – humans desire real connection).

If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend adding it to your TRB list, and then let’s talk about the future of humanity.

Final note: the Ready Player One movie is scheduled to come out in 2017, so get a head start and read the book first!

The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz

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Reading Sara Rating: 3.5/5

Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Candlewick (September 8, 2015)

I had a tough time rating this book because it was well-written, lovely to follow, and I enjoyed reading it. However, it wasn’t particularly memorable. I read it about two weeks ago and am already having trouble remembering some of the character names (and had to jog my memory to remember what the ending was). So, in 2016, visit http://www.readingsara.wordpress.com for a new rating system that is more than numbers – and will hopefully better reflect my views on the books that I am reading.

I picked up The Hired Girl at an airport bookstore when I realized that I had left my Kindle at home, and was going to be away for the weekend. To be honest, I was surprised that I had not heard of this book sooner, particularly on an “If you love Downton Abbey, you will love this book” list. Well, it happens that I do fancy Downton Abbey, and I love the upstairs/downstairs story line, so this was a good read for me and as good as any airport impulse purchase can be.

Joan Skraggs is 14, and before her mother passed away, she had big plans for Joan to get out of her current life and become a teacher. Joan’s path turns out to be a little different than her mother intended. She does pave a way to a better life for herself, ends up surrounded by people who care about her. As well as a world and society that she did not even think possible – all while learning acceptance, patience and the power of books.

What I loved about this book was the importance that many people played in the raising up of this young girl – she needed support, guidance, a mother-like figure, and friendship. All of these things were found in unexpected ways and through unexpected sources.

For lovers or Anne of Green Gables, and Downton Abbey (as previously mentioned), this will be a good read.

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!

Circling the Sun

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!).

Hello world!

Hello, world! As the blog continues, you will learn many things about me  – but the most important first thing to know, and the very purpose of this blog, is that I love to read. My passion for reading came from a long line of women (and men, to be fair) in my life who also love to read, and taught me that reading can be something that brings passion, teaches new and important things, helps to make sense of our world, and helps escape the world. 

Follow me on goodreads to keep up with what I am reading, and I will plan to post my current reading reviews and book recommendations here…ok, and sometimes wine recommendations because the second thing you will learn right away about me is that I also love a great glass of wine with my books!