Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

Read Last Week:



The Hexed by Heather Graham: I think this was my favorite Krewe of Hunters in the series so far!

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett: This was our fun July book club read. It was surprisingly good.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: I wanted to read something beachy and light, and this was perfect!

California by Edan Lepucki: Wow this book was intense! And weird. And slow. But I liked it. Review Tuesday.

Reading this Week:

I am leaving for vacation this week, so I am not sure how much I will be posting, and my book plan might change too, but this is what I am thinking:


Conversion by Katherine Howe - The library lied to me last week and said this was in, but it wasn't! It is in now though, I hope.

Posted last week:

Stay tuned this week for my Paris in July post!

Friday, July 11, 2014

An Evening Out At The Zoo

Twice a year, the Detroit Zoo opens it's doors after hours for a little zoomance, from 6-9 pm. The event is 21 years old and up, and it is the perfect time go to the zoo. The animals are all awake and up, having shaken off their daytime sleepiness, and are ready to show you their stuff. This peacock was definitely posing for the camera!

The Detroit Zoo has a long walk from the entrance to the rest of the zoo. As this is a date night for me and my Mr., I like to get dressed up - not very practical when walking around the zoo, but then again, this isn't a race to see it all. It is a leisurely paced event, taking your time with the exhibits, walking around with your drinks, and listening to the band play. 

The zebras are my favorite! Well, the zebras, the arctic fox, the baby camel, and the kangaroos, that is. My husband loves the arctic ring of life, which dominates the zoo with its huge "tundra" for the two polar bears, surrounded by water for them to swim in. One of the best parts of the Detroit Zoomance is that zoo volunteers are on hand to talk about the animals. I noticed most of the people ignored these volunteers, but we talked to them all! They are so knowledgeable and have some cute stories!

The kangaroo exhibit is one that you can walk around in, right with the kangaroos. You are not allowed to leave the path or touch the animals however. Which is good, because they just had a new addition, a small baby joey! He was being a little rebellious while we were there, and was wandering kind of far from his mother, who was watching him closely. 

One thing that the Detroit Zoo does not have is an elephant, due to how rough a zoo environment is on these animals, who seem so sensitive and gentle. Our zoo also has a lion that was being used to guard a junkyard in Kansas, if you can imagine! She now has a giant enclosure made to look like an African Savannah., and her name is Erin, which is a great choice in names if I do say so myself. Our zoo actually has many rescue animals - three grizzly bears who were abandoned as cubs by their mother in Alaska, and the NPS asked the Detroit Zoo to take them; two rescued race horses that now live in the American grasslands area of the zoo; and most recently, exotic animals rescued in a hoarding case that include fennec foxes, lemurs and many others. Around 1,000 animals were seized in this hoard from terrible conditions, and are now recuperating at the Detroit Zoo.

And this event is romantic, believe it or not. There is something magical about being at the zoo in the evening, the sky bathed in purples and pinks from the sunset, the music, the moment. We even took a train ride around the zoo, and ended up being the only people on the train, besides the conductor!

If you are ever in the area, be sure to stop in to the zoo! If you want to read more about the zoo and it's animals, you can check it out here

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

Title: Save the Date
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Source: Library (by way of my mom)

Goodreads Summary:

A wedding florist finds love and trouble in this delightful new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Ladies' Night

A Savannah florist is about to score the wedding of a lifetime—one that will solidify her career as the go-to-girl for society nuptials. Ironically, Cara Kryzik doesn't believe in love, even though she creates beautiful flower arrangements to celebrate them. But when the bride goes missing and the wedding is in jeopardy, Cara must find the bride and figure out what she believes in. Maybe love really does exist outside of fairy tales after all. 

My thoughts:

I am a big fan of southern cities. Such a fan, that my husband has asked that we please go west or or east or anywhere but south again on our next vacation. Every trip we take is somewhere southern. But I can't help it - both of my parents are southern vacationers as well. Since I don't live down south or get to vacation there as much as I wish, I have to get my fix sometimes through books, and Mary Kay Andrews is a go to author for me. Her books are fun and like candy, a special treat.

This book was no exception. Cara Kryzik runs her own floral shop, selling bouquets over the counter as well as doing the flowers for special events like weddings. She lives above her shop with her golden-doodle Poppy, and is recently divorced. Everyday she deals with brides and their mothers, planning their dream weddings, from big to small, from bridezillas to the bridechillas. (ok I made that word up) Despite being surrounded by love, Cara is a bit jaded as a result of her failed marriage, and she and her assistant have a game of predicting the odds that the couple will remain married. Her business however has been financed by her father, the Colonel - who is insisting on being repaid back in full immediately. Unfortunately that kind of repayment is out of Cara's reach at the moment, until Marie walks in her door. Marie's daughter Brooke is getting married, and wants Cara to do the flowers. If she can pull this off, she will have more than enough money to keep her business going and to pay off her father.

But of course, things can't go that smoothly. Cara struggles and fights against the odds herself, battling a new fancy florist in town, landlords, disgruntled brides and mothers'of the bride, amongst other things. And of course, there is a hot guy, who has a golden-doodle as well, that helps to heat things up.

One of the things I loved best about this book was the interactions between Cara and her dog. I am a huge animal lover, and have four pets myself, including a goofy English Setter rescue. So I understand where Cara is coming from sometimes. There was a part that I totally got, having to do with Poppy that made me teary! Although, Cara does do something at the end that I would never have gambled on. Overall though, I love how Andrews incorporates animals and animal welfare into her books. It gets a thumbs up from me.

I really enjoyed this book, as I have all Andrew's work. The few complaints I had are minor, and don't detract from the rest of the story.  It was the perfect read for a warm summer day, even better if read while relaxing on the porch, sipping iced tea.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: The Road to Burgundy by Ray Walker

Title: The Road to Burgundy
Author: Ray Walker
Source: Publisher for review

From the Penguin website:

An intoxicating memoir of an American who discovers a passion for French wine, and gambles everything to chase a dream of owning a vineyard in Burgundy 

Ray Walker had a secure career in finance until a wine-tasting vacation ignited a passion that he couldn’t stifle. Ray neglected his work, spending hours poring over ancient French winemaking texts, learning the techniques and the language, and daydreaming about vineyards. After Ray experienced his first taste of wine from Burgundy, he could wait no longer. He quit his job and went to France to start a winery—with little money, a limited command of French, and virtually no winemaking experience. 

Fueled by determination and joie de vivre, he immersed himself in the extraordinary history of Burgundy’s vineyards and began honing his skills. Ray became a pioneer in his use of ancient techniques in modern times and founded Maison Ilan. In 2009, Ray became the first non-French winemaker to purchase grapes and produce a wine from Le Chambertin, long considered to be one of the most revered and singular vineyards in the world. 

Along with his struggle to capture his wine’s distinct terroir, Ray shares enthralling stories of late-night tastings, flying down the Route National on a vintage Peugeot bicycle with no brakes, and his journey to secure both the trust of his insular Burgundian neighbors and the region’s most coveted grapes. Capturing the sunlight, the smell of the damp soil, and the taste of superlative wine, The Road to Burgundy is a glorious celebration of finding one’s true path in life, and taking a chance—whatever the odds. 

My thoughts:

Who doesn't dream of one day quitting their job, following their dreams, and starting over? I know I do! And when that is rolled up into becoming a wine maker in France, the daydream gets even better.

Ray Walker wasn't a wine drinker. Growing up, he thought it was for snobbish people, and that it didn't taste very good to boot. However, his mind was changed one night in Italy, after drinking the house red at a small Italian restaurant. Walker discovered that wine wasn't bad, and didn't have to belong to primarily to the elite- it was a drink for everyman.

That night changed his life. He became an afficionado, reading and learning all he could about wine, and began to chase a dream of expensive Bordeaux, believing it to be the end-all be-all of wine. However, he was about to have his head turned again. Walker and his wife Christian headed off to a nearby Bordeaux tasting, to learn when they got there that they had missed it. Instead they were treated to Burgundy. And there in that tasting room, surrounded by bottles and shelves of wines of all different types from all over the world, a dream was born.

Walker was bewitched. The taste of the Burgundy infatuated him. How could he go back to his job in the finance world, when there was a whole new world out there that he wanted to be a part of? The answer is, he couldn't. With the support of Christian, Walker quit his job to pursue his new purpose in life - Burgundy. And he pursued this dream hard and tenaciously, running down every lead he could from their home in California, calling wine vendors in France, asking in his broken French for what he could. He joined online wine forums, he looked for investors. One day this hard work paid off, and he had financial backing. All he needed now were grapes.

The office walls gave way to grape vines, and Walker eventually headed to Burgundy alone, kissing his wife and baby goodbye, and set out to find grapes. He pounded the pavement, talking to everyone he could. The soles of his shoes wore out. But eventually he got what he needed - grapes and a space to work. This is where the real adventure begins. You will have to read to find out more!

I just want to say here, that his wife Christian seems like an amazing woman. I am not sure I would have the courage to allow my husband, the main bread winner in our household, to quit his job without knowing how it would turn out. Christian was patient and supportive, even when she was in the United States with their daughter alone. She gets huge props for this, in my opinion.

Now, I don't know much about wine or have much of a palette. I can kinda-sorta tell the difference between expensive and not, but..not really. I don't think I have ever tried to Burgundy, but after reading this book, I definitely want to. For those of you who may be like me, and need a little extra info, you can read more here.

This book is for anyone who has daydreamed of doing something different. For people who like wine. For people who like to read about the lives of other human beings. For people who applaud those who go after their dreams tooth and nail. For armchair travelers and bookworms. A book for everyone, really.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today's topic is Bookish Confessions! 

1. If I don't like a book after 15 pages, I usually don't finish it. Sometimes I will go back to it at a later date and try again, but most of the time I don't.

2. I don't mind reading books in a series out of order. This weirds everyone out that I know.

3.  Sometimes classics or literary fiction that is being hailed as the second coming..bores me. Or I don't get why everyone raved about it. 

4.  I will write in my books if I like something written there. I hear a lot of people think this is a big no-no.

5. When I travel, I take at least 4 books with me, even if it is for just a night.

6.  Even though I spent a whole month telling the kids at my school to not judge a book by it's cover, I occasionally do it too. 

7.  There are days when I get sucked into a book and don't stop reading it until it is done. These are good days.

8. I don't always finish a book series or trilogy. 

9.  I blog best in the morning.

10.  I don't understand people who don't read, they don't like reading, and tell me they throw their books away after reading them. I just don't get it! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

I had a fun filled weekend! I hope that everyone, American or non-American, enjoyed their weekends, whatever you were doing or celebrating.  I spent a lot of time outdoors this weekend, soaking up the beautiful weather we have been having! I did get a bit behind on my reading though.

Has anyone else watched Friday Night Lights? We just started watching it on Netflix and are addicted!

Read Last Week:


The Road to Burgundy by Ray Walker: A delightful story of one American's journey to becoming a winemaker. Review Wednesday. 

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster: I picked this up at the library the other day. I have never read anything by Lancaster before, and I really liked this one!

Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews: As always, I love Andrews and her books. They make me want to move to Savannah desperately though! Review Thursday.

Reading This Week:

The Hexed by Heather Graham: I didn't get to this last week, so it is first up this week. 

Lessons in French by Hilary Reyl: I am participating in the Paris in July meme, and I am reading this as part of it. I am loving this meme! Now, if only I could find some macarons... 

Conversion by Katherine Howe: I really enjoyed The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, and this seems to be along a similar vein. 

Posted Last Week: