Dani is a Book & Wine Pairing Blogger from the mountains of West Virginia. She loves to read anything she can get her hands on while sipping on a glass of wine and snuggling with her fur-babies.

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REVIEW! - Historical Mystery, Musical Memoir & Women’s Satire

Historical Mystery, Musical Memoir & Women’s Satire

A new year, a new year full of books!

I took some time off with the holidays to enjoy family and to take a breather, something that I need to do time-to-time so I don’t get burned out, which can - and does - happen. Since I took that time for myself, I have quite the TBR list for this upcoming year! Some ARCs (advance reader copies) and some older ones that have been sitting on my shelf, or on my virtual Audible shelf, that are in the wings waiting to be picked up!

So, for this first review session of the new year, I have quite a smattering of different genres, everything from a historical mystery to a musical memoir and a women’s fiction satire!

So, without further ado, here are my reviews - and their wine pairings - of:
📚 Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River (2018 Historical Mystery)
📚 Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking; Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help (2014 Musical Memoir)
📚 Sylvia Mulholland’s A Nanny for Harry (2018 Women’s Fiction Satire)

From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.
—Dani


Once Upon a River 

By Diane Setterfield

 
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Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

Synopsis:

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

Purchase:

Amazon / B&N / Kobo / Google Play / IndieBound

Review:

Looking for a historical novel with a bit of mystery? Then Once Upon a River is a great place to start! While I did have a hard time getting into this novel, once I finally got into the groove of the time period, I quickly became enamored with the story, staying up late and waking early just to get a few extra chapters in.

This early 20th-century tale is focused on one very mysterious little girl, who--in reality--no one really knows who she is. The mystery continues throughout the story (and even beyond), as the silent little girl is passed from home-to-home of those who claim she is theirs, even though none of them are truly sure.

Once Upon a River is one for my ‘favorites’ shelf for sure! It was intriguing and captivating, and the presentation of how all of the claiming families’ lives are intertwined with one another all because of this beguiling little girl was absolutely fantastic!

I pondered a long time over my final score for this wonderful book, only to finally decide on a 4.5 rating due to the slow beginning. Once you get passed that slow start, you will not be disappointed!

 

Dani's Score out of 5: 📚📚📚📚🔖


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Pair it with: Blank Stare Sauvignon Blanc

Pale yellow with a chartreuse tint, the wine opens with bright aromatics of lime zest, lemon, green apple and a touch of honey. The entry is refreshing with ripe pineapple and grapefruit, framed by a nervy backbone of satiating acidity. A mid-palate of white peach and a hint of pith melds seamlessly into a long, energetic finish of wet stone and key lime. Pair with a basil pizza.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


Audio Book Review

The Art of Asking;
Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

By Amanda Palmer

 
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Publication Date: November 11, 2014
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Music

Synopsis:

Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world's most successful music Kickstarter.

Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn't alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of The Art Of Asking.

Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. The Art Of Asking will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.

Purchase:

Amazon / Audible / B&N / Kobo / Google Play

Review:

 I usually do not care for books when read by the author. When books are read by their author, the author is usually unaccustomed to reading out loud and so one or more of the following ends up happening:

  • Emphasis is usually given in the wrong places.

  • Its read in a monotone.

  • The pace is grueling-ly S-L-O-W.

So, when I saw that Amanda Palmer, the author or The Art of Asking, was the one narrating her book I almost passed it over. And I did for a couple months, but something kept drawing me back to it, and so I finally caved, and bought it.

Thankfully, Amanda did none of the bullet points mentioned above, and turns out, whatever kept drawing my attention to The Art of Asking was completely right in doing so. I loved this book, and I’ve talked about it (and suggested it) multiple times to multiple people since listening to it.

This memoir of Amanda’s life pre and intra-music business, is a powerful and eye-opening one that not only shows the reader into Amanda’s life, but millions of others. And if the reader looks closely enough, they’ll see into their own as well. And while this is not necessarily a ‘self-help’ book, it definitely can be taken that way.

I have always been one to shy away from asking others for things: a project, housework, money, personal issues, etc. I grew up in a family where we didn’t display our dirty laundry for the world to see, and therefore we didn’t ask for help to wash it, so to speak. But after listening to The Art of Asking, I have already found me asking myself, “Why can’t I ask for help with that? The worst that can happen is they say, ‘No.’”

Amanda’s book has helped me to see my own life, and many others’, in a whole new light. The next time I see a street statue or performer, I will take the time to stop and really watch them perform. The next time I see a KickStarter or a GoFundMe, I’ll take the time to really think about helping them, instead of automatically saying no. And the next time I see someone in a bad place, needing essential items to live, I’ll think, “WWAD?” (What Would Amanda Do), and proceed from there.

If you’re looking for unique perspective on life, needing someone to help you see the light at the end of the long dark tunnel, or are in need of some courage to ask for help, then I cannot recommend Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking enough. And, if you listen to the audio version of it (which I also highly recommend), you’ll get some fun--and different!--music to listen to as well! (I especially like the one about the ukulele!)

 

Dani's Score out of 5: 📚📚📚📚📚


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Pair it with: Bread & Butter Pinot Noir

This Pinot Noir boasts juicy red fruit. Think cherries and raspberries with a touch of cassis. Delicate hints of cedar and bay leaf balance the sweetness of the fruit, creating an enduring bouquet.  That luscious fruit bouquet continues onto the palate, where it’s joined by soft flavors of oak and savory notes. The rich mouthfeel is complemented by a long and beautifully smooth finish. Pair with wood smoked bacon.

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A Nanny for Harry 

By Sylvia Mulholland

 
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Publication Date: August 19, 2018
Genre: Adult, Women’s Fiction, Humor

Synopsis:

 Workaholic attorney Kali Miller has it all—perfect husband, perfect house and on her way to partnership at her firm. And she’s about to have the perfect baby, to complete the picture. But doing it all turns out to be a lot harder than having it all. Baby Harry needs a nanny, so Kali can get back to work, and stay on track. Britta is blonde, beguiling and Swedish enough to make any new mom insecure. She dotes on little Harry but leaves most of the unpleasant chores to Kali. Worse, she seems to have some sort of “past” with Kali’s husband, Matt. As Kali continues basically juggling on empty and trying to do it all, insecurity and paranoia grab hold of her brain. Just who is this Britta Edvardsson anyway? And what does she want with Matt? And little Harry? Hilarious, hair-raising and at times heart-breaking, A Nanny for Harry is a story for all new moms, babies and those who love them.

Purchase:

Amazon / B&N / Kobo / IndieBound

Review:

 This quirky little tale was fun and witty, with a twist of mystery, but overall quickly became old and annoying. I enjoyed the overall end result of the story, but I did not enjoy the journey to get there. While most might find Kali Miller to be a funny, new-mother with all her worries and woes about her son’s well-being, I found her constant worry over her marriage to be annoying and to drag me down.

Kali never has a real reason to worry over her husband, Matt, and their nanny, Britta’s, relationship, and yet, because Britta is a beautiful young ex-model, she automatically thinks something is going on between them, and yet does nothing about it.I found this portion of the story to be annoying and tiring, Nothing good can come from a jealous woman, especially one as passive-aggressive as Kali.

Kali’s worry for her son, Harry’s, well-being is one I understand more, and slowly she begins to relinquish this. But her constant emotional roll-a-coaster from marital-worry to baby-worry to worry about losing her job--one she doesn’t seem too concerned about in the first place--makes me wonder if there is more than postpartum hormones going on.

One thing that I think A Nanny for Harry had going for it was the slight twist into a mystery at the end. Throughout the book you know there is something else there, something lurking just under the surface, but you don’t find out what that is until the end, and I’m happy it was there and finally addressed, no matter how quickly it was named and then excused.

In the end, I didn’t connect to the story, but I’m sure mothers--especially those with hot nannies--would connect to Kali’s woes quite easily. I, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy the journey to get to the end result. I did, however, like the taste of mystery waiting for me at the end; like a gift for suffering through all worry.

 

Dani's Score out of 5: 📚📚📚

**Sorry, no wine pairing for A Nanny for Harry.


Have a book you’d like to suggest or one you’d like me to review? Please feel free to leave your comments down below.



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