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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wino Recs: Best Christmas Gift Wines

Hey everyone! There's nothing better than giving a bottle of wine to someone if you're at a loss for a gift. Pair it with some cute personalized glasses like this:


and you are someone's new best friend. Here are my recommendations for guaranteed crowd pleasers.

              For anyone:

Apothic White and/or Apothic Red - Both of these are absolutely fantastic blended wines and are a perfect balance of dry and sweet flavors with a wonderfully smooth texture.

   For the dessert wine lover:

Stonebrook Winery Black Knight - This is an absolutely delicious blend of blackberry wine and brandy. Yes, brandy. Its got a slightly higher alcohol content hence the slimmer bottle. This is probably my favorite drink of all time. I call it liquid gold.

For the broke gift-giver:

Funf 5 Sassy White - This is a very tasty mildly sweet Riesling. At only around 7 bucks a bottle, this ends up being a really great gift for the giver a little short on cash. You'd never know it was so inexpensive and neither will they.

For the adventurous wino:

Alianca Vinho Verde - This was surprisingly good in that it has a bit of sparkle to it. A nice blend of what you'd expect prosecco and mild pinot grigio would taste like together this is a great gift for someone who likes to experiment with new flavors and wines.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Rotters - Daniel Kraus

Rating: 5/5
Summary: When Joey Crouch's mother dies he is sent off to live with his father in a small town Iowa. He soon learns that his father is not only embarrassingly labeled the town "garbage man" but a grave robber. Joey's life takes a dramatic turn when he decides to demand his father's attention and care.
Review: This book was incredibly captivating in a strange way. Its plot is very dark and slightly depressing, even disgusting, at point but still kept me reading. Kraus strings together an unique tale with plenty of twists and turns woven together with completely believable characterization. With as pessimistic and dark as this novel is, I expected to be left feeling depressed but was pleasantly surprised by the ever-so-perfect ending. The story is completely balanced in every way and I was definitely satisfied when I finally finished it. DEFINITELY a must read for any YA, adventure-loving book enthusiast.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Inkheart - Cornelia Funke

Rating: 4/5
Summary: Meggie and her father enjoy books as most people typically enjoy food. When she discovers her father has a secret ability to bring characters to life simply by reading aloud, Meggie is thrown into an adventure of her own that teaches her about trust, love, good and evil.
Review: I definitely understand why this book was made into a movie. Funke weaves a beautifully written plot with captivating characters and a unique concept that is sure to draw anyone's attention. I suppose this book is intended for a slightly younger audience (say the 11-15 age range) but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't deny that little more adult drama and action would have made this a much more interesting YA book for the older crowd, but I still found myself returning to it as often as I could. I would definitely recommend picking this one up if you like the "Harry Potter" adventure type books or if you are looking for a great Christmas gift for the preteen on your list. This is a trilogy but this book doesn't leave you having to read the next books, so for now I am moving on.

Buy it here: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (Hardcover)

Wino Review: Alaverdi - Tvalebi

Type: White
Name: Alaverdi - Tvalebi (Medium Sweet White)
Location: Georgia
Review: Um... wow. I'll be honest, I was hesitant about this wine. No only is the label cheesy and mostly in a language I don't associate with wine, but the idea of a "medium sweet white" printed right on the label screamed cheap to me. Boy was I surprised! This may just be one of my new favorites, if only I could figure out where to get it.... At first taste, this slightly reminds me of a honey mead (and certainly looks like it with a gorgeous rich amber color,) but not really. Its not really like anything I've had before. On the sweeter side, but really not overwhelming, this wine has a mild fruity (almost melon-y) flavor and a smooth finish. You easily could serve this alone, with fruit or you could even pair this with a cheesy dish like alfredo.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Cinder - Marissa Meyer

Rating: 3/5
Summary: Cinder is a cyborg in a futuristic Earth in which humans are plagued by... well, a plague. Paralleling the classic Cinderella tale, Cinder has stepsisters, a mean stepmother, and a prince she pines for.
Review: I really liked this book for the first three quarters of it, until I reached the ending. I felt like it was just cut off at a crucial point, forcing the reader to pick up the sequel. I get that this is an excellent marketing tactic, but it also leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and I probably won't pick up the sequel simply because I wasn't blown away by the plot and then put off by the ending. Also, there is one sentence in the beginning of the novel that almost ruined the whole book because anyone smarter than a fifth grader can guess its implications. I won't share this revealing sentence, just in case you decided to pick up this book out of boredom. I did like the characters, although I felt they could have been slightly more relatable and the relationships were shallow. Overall, the dystopian quality of this novel kept me interested, but the plot wasn't strong enough to hold my interest into the sequels.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: 2 in one! The Scortch Trials and The Death Cure - James Dashner

Rating: 5/5, 5/5
Summary: In these two novels we follow Thomas in his adventures through the dystopian future in which our earth is plagued by sun flares and a disease threatening to wipe out the human race. Thomas and his friends are being tested in an effort to find a cure and then escape Wicked to find there are worse things than zombie-like disease-ridden people and hot scortched earth.
Reviews: Oh goodness. Pick up this trilogy, including the first book Maze Runner, as soon as you can. While the first book was a little slow, these two are fantastic and just get better. I definitely enjoyed all three and flew through the last two, finding every excuse to listen to them, even working out! The character intricacies continue to be intriguing and the plot twists keep your eyes glued to the pages (or earbuds glued in your ears) as long as physically possible. I would recommend this to anyone above the age of fourteen or so, simply because there is some frightening violence and imagery that may give preteens nightmares. But if you love dystopian novels, pick this up asap for a fantastically unique plot and unrushed storyline.

Get them here: The Maze Runner Trilogy Collection Set - Maze Runner, the Scorch Trials & Death Cure By James Dashner

Review: Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Rating: 5/5
Summary: Lena is a young girl about to receive the operation that will cure her from the disease of love, releasing her from a future of pain, losing her mind and ultimately death. When Lena meets a boy on one of her runs, she realizes her worst fear is happening and she is slowly falling in love.
Review: I hesitated to read this book. I thought the concept, that love was a disease to be cured, sounded cheesy and almost impossible to make believable. Somehow, Lauren Oliver did it! I truly loved this book. Not only was the plot utterly captivating, but the characters were wonderful and I couldn't put it down. My absolute favorite part of the whole novel was Lauren's style of writing. She uses a lot of similies and metaphors in her descriptions and somehow it magically makes you experience falling in love right alongside the main characters. The audiobook narrator also did a fantastic job of infusing the personalities of the characters into her voices for each so I suggest listening to this one if you can. I recommend this to everyone and yes, I am starting the sequel as you read this....

Get it here: Delirium

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Maze Runner - James Dashner

Rating: 4/5
Summary: Thomas wakes up in a metal elevator... being lifted into a giant maze... by boys he doesn't recognize... and doesn't remember anything but his name. When Thomas discovers that he and many other boys are left to feed and fend for themselves, not to mention fight off the evil creatures living beyond the walls of their protected glade in the maze, he begins to question why they were all put there in the first place. They boys work to find a way out while trying to keep each other alive and struggling to remember anything about their past lives. When a girl arrives in the metal elevator one day, the lives of all in the maze are thrown for a loop as they are presented with frightening resolution.
Review: This was definitely a unique novel. While dystopian in nature, you don't really realize that it takes place in the future until the very end of the book. Dashner delivers a backwards sort of plot that keeps you interested but thoroughly confused until the end, and then shocked at the clarification made in the epilogue. The character development is easily appreciated and while some of the boys get a little confusing in the beginning, you certainly have your favorites by the end. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopian, YA, suspenseful novels with new concepts that haven't be written and rewritten like many other current fiction novels.

I will definitely be reading the sequels so keep looking for those reviews coming soon.

Buy it here: The Maze Runner (Book 1) (Maze Runner Trilogy)

Review: Vampire Acadamy - Richelle Mead

Rating: 3/5
Summary: Rose and Lissa are best friends in addition to being guardian and vampire. When they are brought back to school after having run away normal teenage drama meets paranormal trouble and things get interesting.
Review: I'll be honest, while this book had a lot more intricacy and detail to the whole vampire genre, it didn't thrill me. It almost got borderline nerdy in the paranormal realm. As an avid YA reader, I like all things magical and fantasy, but terms like Moroi and Strigoi scare me off the same way Dungeons and Dragons players do. I liked that the plot was action packed with vampire "stuff" and also normal teenage lust and betrayal. The characters were definitely believable although maybe a bit emphasized for entertainment purposes. All in all, I would recommend this to someone who is a vampire novel fan, but not to someone who is looking for the next Hunger Games or unique concept.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wino Review: Cavit - Pinot Noir

Type: Red
Name: Cavit - Pinot Noir
Location: Provincia di Pavia, Italy
Review: This was another gift from my sister-in-law (I think she's got me pegged) and as reds go, I approve. Its got a rich cherry fragrance and some berry undertones in the taste. I can also almost taste a bit of oakey-ness in the dry aftertaste. While not very sweet and very simple in its flavor profile, this red doesn't offend the tongue as an acidic or overly dry wine either. This red is also relatively light so I can see it going great with a steak salad or a ravioli with vodka sauce.

Review: The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater

Rating: 5/5
Summary: Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick are two teenagers who have signed up to race in Thisby's annual Scorpio Races. But these races aren't like any other; all the riders will be astride deadly water horses, except Miss Connolly. In a game where the mounts are likely to kill each other and the jockeys, Puck has decided to ride her petite land horse and risk it all to preserve the life she loves.
Review: I LOVED this book. To be honest, I did not enjoy Stiefvater's previous novel Shiver and didn't have high hopes for this one but was completely surprised. Not only has the writing style and character development improved dramatically to the point of not even reading like the same author, but the storyline kept me utterly captivated. I did not want to stop listening (and yes, I did the audiobook because its was narrated by two great readers.) I really enjoyed her pacing throughout the plot and how she kept the actual race until nearly the end. This made the novel more about the anticipation and relationships rather than a beginning, conflict and resolution. And what a creative concept. I have not read anything in the supernatural YA genre about water horses yet and loved it. Definitely pick this one up!

Buy it here:The Scorpio Races

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wino Review: Chateau Ste Michelle - Riesling

Type: White
Name: Chateau Ste Michelle - Riesling
Location: Columbia Valley, Washington
Review: This white was given to me and recommended by my sister-in-law, quite rightfully so. Its got a mild apple-y aroma and light flavor. The sweet citrus and fruity notes balance nicely with a very mild dryness that results in an easy wine to pair with almost anything. Its refreshing and simple in its flavor palette so I would probably serve it with something meaty like beef shish-kabobs or even spaghetti with meatballs. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: Gregor the Overlander - Suzanne Collins

Rating: 4/5
Summary: When young Gregor and his baby sister fall through a grate in their apartment building they plummet down into the "Underland," a world deep within Earth where humans coexist with giant versions of our rats, spiders and cockroaches. The "Underlanders" are a race of humans who, upon meeting Gregor and his sister, decide he is the one prophesied about by the founder of their world and that he will help save them from extinction. Gregor, being a preteen, does not exactly agree.
Review: I originally picked up this book because it was written by Collins, the author of the Hunger Games, expecting it to be similar in style. Oh no... I was quite wrong. While I still enjoyed this little tale, its a much younger novel overall. I would recommend this to a middle-schooler or maybe young high school students. The characters were interesting and the plot was well written and entertaining (as expected of Mrs. Collins) but I couldn't even compare this to her later novels. With lots of tricky interactions and a playful but action packed story, I kept wanting to stay up reading, but overall I could almost call the novel slightly predictable. Definitely would be a great gift for those preteens in your life, maybe not so much for the adults.

Buy it here: Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)

Review: Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

Rating: 4/5
Summary: Taking place in a much older time, this novel centers around the royal houses' battle for possession of the throne. There are essentially good families, such as the Starks, and those with bad intentions, the Lannisters, that continually face each other in confrontations of the physical and mental. Other families play interesting roles in this medieval plot line filled with treachery, deceit, sex, love, murder and mystery.
Review: I am not normally a "kings and queens" novel reader, but with the hit HBO series and all the buzz about this book I felt I had to pick it up. And WHOA, is it heavy. Seriously, the book is very long in comparison to my other YA books. I decided to listen to it on audio to make it go a bit faster (and because the narrator Roy Dotrice is excellent.) Although this is a lengthy and intricate plot, I did enjoy the read, or rather listen, and was enthralled by the detail and incredible character distinction. This may be one of the best demonstrations of multiple well-developed and very different characters, all quite believable, that I've ever read. The scandal and sex in this book keep this from being juvenile and I never felt bored by the story despite its length because its jam packed with many small relationships and dramas. I did not like how it ended, however, because I felt like almost the entire book was left inconclusive. I probably won't read any more in the series simply due to time and interest in other plots, but I feel like someone with a medieval fascination would thoroughly enjoy these novels.

Got it at my local library, but you can buy it here: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wino Review: Monte Maria - Torrontés

Type: White
Name: Monte Maria - Torrontés 
Location: Mendoza, Argentina
Review: A nice mild white with subtle fruity notes and a clean finish. This wine isn't extremely sweet and definitely not too dry for me to enjoy. The description claims some flowery aromas and while I can pick up on some in my initial taste, it doesn't linger. This is another great gift wine in that it will probably please most people and goes great with cheese or fruit for an "afternoon with the girls." There isn't much that impresses me as something new or interesting though so I'm not running out to buy this right away either.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cooking attempt: Deena Paul Summer Corn

I call this my Deena Paul Summer Corn because I took some inspiration from one of my favorite southern chefs. I got some fresh corn from the local farmers' market and this is how I wanted to use it. Here's the recipe:

6 ears fresh corn (corn cut off the cob)
3 strips of bacon
1/2 can cream of onion soup
1 tbsp. butter

Fry the bacon in a deep skillet and drain on paper towel. Fry defrosted or fresh corn in bacon drippings for about 5 minutes, stirring to coat. Add butter and continue to fry corn until it begins to soften and brown very slightly. Add cream of onion soup and stir. Cook another few minutes until hot. Top with crumbled bacon! Yum!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wino Review: Sterling - Pinot Grigio

Type: White
Name: Sterling Vintner's Edition - Pinot Grigio
Location: California
Review: I'm personally not really a fan of this wine. Its on the dry side as far as Pinot Grigios go and although its description spouts citrus and fruity notes, I taste very little of either. I get a lemony undertone that sits on the back of my tongue and too much tannic flavor than is pleasing. This would be best if you enjoy Pinot Grigios but dislike sweet wines of any kind as its almost completely lacking in that. It would probably taste best with a salty dish to offset the qualities of this wine, like a cheese appetizer or a buttery cajun scampi.

Picked this up at my local Alexandria Carryout!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Review: Fifty Shades Freed - E.L. James

Rating: 2/5
Summary: And so the sex scandal becomes a love story when Anna and Christian fall in love and get married. They proceed to have slightly interesting non-vanilla sex into their marriage and then find themselves amidst more danger when a few past enemies reenter their lives.
Review: Might I start by saying that I am quite glad I finally finished this series. After having completed all three books, I now feel like I have probably wasted some valuable Audible credits and a few hours on books just not worth my time. The writing style is awful and the sex scenes just got progressively less interesting. Not only does this plot parallel the Twilight series in so many uninteresting and less successful ways, but it also completely drops from a slightly sexy book to a terribly cliché love story with an utterly predictable ending. Lets just conclude by saying if you haven't read these books, don't start, unless you enjoy cheesy dialogue and replica personalities of the Twilight characters with different names. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, waste your time if you enjoy a good book.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wino Review: Aliança - Vinho Verde

Type: White
Name: Aliança - Vinho Verde
Location: Portugal
Review: Vinho Verde is a type of wine I've never heard of nor tried until this bottle, and what a pretty bottle it is! Love love love the branding/label, and thoroughly enjoyed the wine. Slightly dry and acidic but with a magical bit of carbonation, this white reminded me of a light, un-sweet prosecco. It was faintly citrus with some lingering apple-y notes and really would make a fantastic sipping wine for a hot summer day. In keeping with the "hot summer day" theme this would be best served with some fruit and cheese, but it did not strike me as a mealtime drink.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wino Review: Black Trail - Chardonnay

Type: White
Name: Black Trail Vineyards - Chardonnay
Location: Aconcagua, Chile
Review: I'll be honest, I am not a fan of dry whites, but this was a pretty good one. My mother-in-law prefers super dry white wines so I brought it over to share with her and she really liked this Chardonnay too. It has a nice lingering citrus flavor and little to no sweetness, but somehow I found it much more than tolerable. The acidity was enough to satisfy but not so strong that it left a salty aftertaste and I thoroughly enjoyed just sipping this without food. I would probably pair it with a fish or light cream sauce linguine. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wino Review: Rosenblum - Zinfandel

Type: Red
Name: Rosenblum Cellars - Vintners Cuvée XXXIII Zinfandel
Location: California
Review: Ever so slightly acidic but perfectly sweet, this red would be a crowd pleaser for any gathering. I really enjoyed this with my homemade lasagna and while I think it would be great paired with a steak also, I feel like this best compliments something cheesy. Its got fruity notes and a very soft vanilla undertone. Smooth but intense, I feel like this is really a good balance with a nice depth of flavor. Definitely a good red for any day, even in the hot summer! 

I got this at my local Alexandria Carryout, feel free to check it out!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wino Review: Skinny Girl White Peach Margarita

Type: Cocktail
Name: Skinny Girl - White Peach Margarita
Location: n/a
Review: Better than the Cosmo but still nothing compared to a real margarita. This alcohol content is probably a little closer to a real margarita also (as opposed to the surprisingly low proof of the Cosmo) so it may be a decent substitute if you're really trying to count calories. Also, the ease of just pouring this into a cup as opposed to whipping out the blender and getting the measurements and ice content just right to make a real margarita adds points to the "pros" side of this review. Flavor wise this is slightly disappointing in that I expected to taste more peach flavor but it ended up just tasting like watered down alcohol. Actually, I'm finding that a trend with these Skinny Girl cocktails so far; they just taste flat and one-noted.

Got this one at my local Alexandria Carryout

Review: Fifty Shades Darker - E. L. James

Rating: 3/5
Summary: As we continue to follow the story of Anna and Christian, we see a slightly softer side of our leading man and a more dominant side of the heroine. He also reveals some darker secrets of why he is the way he is and the "kinkery" he continues to crave.
Review: While this sequel has a slightly better plot than the first, the writing is still pretty terrible and the sex scenes stay about the same on the interesting scale. I found it hard to believe that someone with a 10+ year history of the BDSM lifestyle was this easily distracted from it and gave in to such constant, relatively "vanilla" sex. I appreciate that he's trying to change for Anna, but I was also disappointed that the sexcapades weren't truer to the hype we were built up to in the first book. Anyway, the ending of this book left me hanging just like the first, so I am slightly ashamed to admit than I was forced to read the third book. This book is not a page turner, but at least worth reading for the fact that I now feel like I have a dirty little secret I share with at least half of the adult female population.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wino Review: Skinny Girl Cosmo

Type: Cocktail
Name: Skinny Girl - White Cranberry Cosmo
Location: n/a
Review: Eh. I guess for a low calorie cocktail its pretty good, but I prefer a real Cosmo. Not only does this only have a lower alcohol content than a regular Cosmo, its not as fresh and delicious. You can almost taste a "refining process" or something. Weird, I know. But you're not really saving calories if you're drinking more glasses of this lower proof Cosmo vs. 1-2 glasses of a regular Cosmo to get the same buzz. Cute packaging though, and if you're someone who just likes to sip the occasional adult beverage without the buzz (or are a serious lightweight) then this might be the drink for you.

Got this at my local Alexandria Carryout

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cooking attempt: Corn Salad!

OMG. I rock. I had some leftovers from yesterday's grill-out so I put them to use making this awesome chilled corn salad. Here's the super simple recipe.

Summer Corn Salad
3 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup celery diced small
1 sweet onion, sliced very thin
1 tablespoon butter
4 strips of bacon
3/4 cup of mayo
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 tsp dill
1/4 tsp cilantro

Caramelize onions until slightly crispy in butter and drain on a paper towel. Chop when cool. Crisp bacon and crumble once cool; set aside. Toss corn, caramelized onions, and celery together. Mix mayo, lime juice, honey, dill and cilantro in a small bowl and slowly add to corn mixture, until desired dressing amount is achieved. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top before serving, refrigerate if needed. YUM!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cooking Attempt: Mexican Casserole

So here's a recipe I just threw together with what I had in my fridge, and it worked well! Thought I'd share.

Leftover Mexican Casserole

2 leftover grilled chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1 beefsteak tomato, diced
1 cup of black beans, rinsed
1 cup mozzarella and cheddar cheese mixed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup crushed hard taco shells (or tortilla chips)

Mix it all together but leave out the taco shells and enough cheese to sprinkle on top. Spread in a casserole dish, sprinkle cheese then crushed chips on top. Cook in oven at 375 degrees until melty and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Wino Review: Apothic White

Type: White
Name: Apothic White - Chardonnay/Riesling/Moscato blend
Location: California
Review: DELICIOUS. While quite sweet, it pairs perfectly with fruit. The Chardonnay balances out the Moscato nicely. We sipped on this while munching on some grapes and apples and it was fantastic because it is a smooth blend of sweet fruit notes with a sublimely clean finish. Light enough to be a summer wine with a meal (though not a heavy meal) but rich enough to stand alone after dinner or with dessert, this is a great idea for a gift. Its also in the right price point and a pretty enough bottle to bring to a friend or neighbors and make you look like you know more about wine than you actually do.

Got this one at my local Alexandria Carryout!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey - E. L. James

Rating: 2/5
Summary: Anastasia Steel is a new college graduate who meets Mr. Christian Grey, a young and highly successful entrepreneur and, quite literally, falls into a relationship with him. His tastes, however, are in the BDSM realms of sexuality and this throws our virginal Miss Steel for a loop.
Review: First things first, or last... I HATE the ending. I wasn't planning on reading the rest of the series due to this books complete lack of originality and plot, but the last few chapters sucked me in and the ending made it impossible for me to not pick up the sequel. Seriously though, the book consisted of nothing but some terribly cliche flirting, some rough sex, and unfortunate drama. If you're looking for something to "get the juices flowing" in a minivan mom kind of way, this might do it for you, as this series has been dubbed "Mommy Porn." However, if you're more interested in a good book with some sexuality expertly written and intertwined into a decent plot there are much better places to find it. Start with Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Thats got a fantastic little scene that blows these tacky and crude words out of the water. But yes, I am ashamed to say I am reading the sequel....

Also, if you couldn't tell by the striking similarity in characters (thus showing this authors unoriginality) this story was originally written as a fan fiction based on Twilight. Steel = Swan, Grey = Cullen, Ray = Charlie. The characters' personalities are virtually the same.

Wino Review: Valbella - Chardonnay

Type: White
Name: Valbella - Chardonnay
Location: Veneto, Italy
Review: I expected this to be a much tastier wine that it turned out to be. The description says its smooth and fruity, and to be honest, its close to the opposite. Initially, I taste almost a salty, tannic quality to the Chardonnay which immediately turns me off. There is a hint of citrus but it is so minute and the lack of other depths makes this an uninteresting wine for me. I wouldn't purchase this again unless I was buying it for someone who really enjoyed dry wines. Not a fan.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wino Review: Paradise - Pinot Grigio

Type: White
Name: Paradise - Pinot Grigio
Location: Delle Venezie, Italy
Review: As Pinot Grigio's go, this is quite delicious. This is a perfect balance of dry and sweet notes with very a refreshing hint of citrus and fruit. I am content sipping this alone, but it would also be great with a light summer salad or with a rich creamy dinner. I have to say, I am a fan of this white, and I just might finish the bottle by myself... immediately.

Review: 1984 - George Orwell

Rating: 3/5
Summary: In Orwell's 1984 we live in a world forever watched by "Big Brother" and history is rewritten to fit the present and future. Sex is strictly for reproduction only and rebellious thoughts are outlawed with the consequences of torture and death.
Review: With many children being required to read this in high school, and being considered on the best dystopian novels of all time, I had high expectations set. However, I did not enjoy this book in the least. Like most older books, especially those required in high school English Literature, the plot is extremely slow and relatively uneventful. In our modern society, we need more fast paced and event packed plot lines to keep our interest. Additionally, I found the heroine's personality unbelievable and the characters difficult to relate to. I know, I am criticizing a "classic" so flame me as you will, but I simply can not classify this as a "page-turner" or "must read." I apologize in all sincerity to all my past English Lit teachers....
After a long hiatus due to my newly born daughter, I'm back with some changes. In addition to book reviews, I will now be doing wino wine reviews (seeing as I am no longer banned from drinking.) I will also be dropping the cooking attempts (due to my lack of time to cook with two babies under one and a half.) So, look forward to some new posts coming soon! First up will be 1984 by George Orwell....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: Ender's Shadow - Orson Scott Card

Rating: 4/5
Summary: Basically this is Ender's Game from Bean's perspective. There is more backround on Bean before and after he meets Ender, but it follows the same sequence of events.
Review: I was recommended this book by several people based on the fact that I loved Ender's Game. I also read Speaker for the Dead and was told that I would appreciate this more because it was more like the first book. In my opinion, its too much like the original book. I was draw in to the story in the beginning because Card tells of Bean's history, but when Bean's story begins to meet that of Ender's, I found myself bored. I knew what was going to happen and the details of Bean's story weren't enough to keep me enthralled as much as Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. I guess its just the originality of the plot line and the new characters that entertain me. Other than that, the quality of writing was just as good as the other two books and character development was definitely up to par with Card's other work. A good sequel, but I actually enjoyed the depth of meaning in Speaker for the Dead more as a sequel.

 *If you don't know how the "sequels" work with the Ender's Game books you should know its quite confusing. Check this link out for a better understanding of Ender's Universe.

Buy it here: Ender's Shadow

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Super busy here with my two baby girls, but I'm currently listening to Ender's Shadow by Card and am about 3/4 of the way through. Next on my list are 1984 by Orwell and Neuromancer by Gibson (I'm on a dystopian kick.)

Will post reviews as soon as I can! Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

Rating: 3/5
Summary: Jacob believes his grandfather's tales of the magical home he stayed in as a child and the "peculiar" children that lived there with him are just fantasy. Then, when his grandfather is murdered by a monster than only Jacob sees, he embarks on an adventure that opens the door to a world he never knew existed.
Review: Eh, I had high hopes for this book based on the description but I was disappointed in a few things, most of all the ending. I feel like Riggs rushed to finish the book and left it wide open and inconclusive. Also, looking back on the plot line I can almost tell that Riggs found all these photos first and then wrote the story around them. The romance and relationships felt forced and unrealistic. Overall, this wasn't a great book but it wasn't awful either. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you are sincerely bored.