25 June 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: 2 Good Books

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts from Beth Fish ReadsI can't believe my mom's 90th birthday is almost here. For all those who have a certain image of a 90-year-old in your head, my mother is out to shatter it. This is her version of being an nonagenarian:

She spent this morning working out with her personal trainer. She pumps real iron (not just 5-pound dumbbells) and hits the rowing machine or spinning bike too.

She still lives in her two-story house and still drives. She has a more active social life than we have, is avid gardener, and volunteers her journalism skills at a monthly glossy magazine. Here's to many more healthy years, Mom!

What I Read Last Week

Review of The Lost Vintage by Ann MahThe Lost Vintage by Ann Mah (William Morrow, June 19). I was attracted to this novel because of the French vineyard connection, but I didn't know much about this dual-time-period story before I started reading. In the present, Kate is studying for her Master of Wine certification and decides, for a number of reasons, to spend the summer at her family's vineyard in Burgundy. Kate grew up in the United States and has visited her French relatives only a few times over the years. While there, she helps her cousin-in-law clean out the villa's basement, and there in the cool cellar, they make a discovery that could change all their lives. In the past, Kate's great-aunt Helene keeps a journal of her life during the German occupation. She and her father try to balance their ethical beliefs with keeping the vineyard and her father's second wife and young sons safe. I became invested in both stories for different reasons. Kate's is all about family secrets and family loyalty, the pulls of independence and love, and of course the wine. Helene's story is about survival, family loyalty, and the constraints of women's opportunities in the mid-twentieth century. Throughout both story arcs are tense moments of possible betrayals, danger, and having the strength to do what's right. I liked The Lost Vintage more than I thought I would and was especially interested in the details of Helene's experiences.

I listened to the unabridged audiobook (HarperAudio; 11 hr, 43 min) read by Saskia Maarleveld. Maaleveld's French, German, South African, and American accents were utterly believable, and her pacing and characterizations kept me engaged. Recommended in either medium. (review copies from the publisher)

Review of Wild Blues by Beth KephartWild Blues by Beth Kephart (Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum; June 5). For so many reasons, I love this book.

In the interest of transparency, I should say that I know Beth and have met her in person a couple of times, though not in a few years. Also, a book written by her great-grandfather features in Wild Blues, and this book is one of Mr. BFR's favorites and is one he owned long before I had even heard of Beth Kephart. Those two factors may have affected my deep affection for this novel, but I can also say without reservation that Kephart's writing is beautiful and the tears that filled my eyes off and on throughout my reading were genuine and were prompted solely from the story of Lizzy and Matias.
When 13-year-old Lizzy is dropped off at her uncle's house in the Adirondacks, her only worry is that her mother will be on her own all summer as she undergoes radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer. But Lizzy adores her uncle Davy and can't wait to see her friend Matias. She is tall and scientific, and he has proportionate dwarfism and is an artist. She's American, and he's Salvadoran. Despite their differences, they form a strong bond while exploring the woods and telling each other stories. When Matias and her uncle go missing on the day after two men escape a nearby prison, Lizzy--armed with the book Camping and Woodcraft, which Davy had given her--heads out into the 6-million-acre park determined to find the men she loves. This is Lizzy's story, told in flashbacks.

Here are some disjointed thoughts about Lizzy: She's intelligent and insightful, but her language and perceptions remind us she's still just an adolescent. She's brave but is driven by love and fear, not by a superpower. Because this is Lizzy's story, told in Lizzy's words, the adults and their relationships are seen from a young teen's perspective. Her uncle is famous because he's on television; her science teacher knows everything; Matias's parents are shadows because she doesn't know them well. In other words, Kephart makes Lizzy real. Two more notes: don't miss reading the acknowledgments and forget the "middle grade" label. (eARC provided by the publisher)

21 comments:

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 6/25/18, 7:15 AM  

Your mom sounds pretty awesome! I hope I'm like that when I'm 90!

Amanda 6/25/18, 8:09 AM  

Happy birthday to your mom! She sounds amazing!

JoAnn 6/25/18, 8:41 AM  

Your mom sounds a lot like my FIL, who will be 91 next month... hope she has a very happy birthday!

Susie | Novel Visits 6/25/18, 9:40 AM  

Your mom is an inspiration and it sounds like you're very lucky to be in that gene pool! I'm going to keep The Lost Vintage in mind for a possible audiobook later in the summer.

Melissa 6/25/18, 9:42 AM  

My goal is to be your mom when I'm 90, should I live that long. I'm serious - the older I get (I'm 49), the more I'm focused on this. Good for her -- and happy 90th birthday to her!

Cannot wait to read Beth's book.

Laurel-Rain Snow 6/25/18, 10:54 AM  

Your mom sounds amazing! I want to be her!

I have enjoyed Beth Kephart's books and have been eyeing this one. Now I definitely must read it.

Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Kathy Martin 6/25/18, 11:01 AM  

I wish I was as active now as your Mom is at almost 90. Interesting books too. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Les in Oregon 6/25/18, 11:15 AM  

Happy Birthday to your mom. She sounds a lot like mine (who just turned 85), minus the weight lifting and spinning classes!

Beth's book sounds wonderful. I'll be on the lookout for a copy! Her great-grandfather's book looks like something my husband would love. We are spending a lot of our retirement camping (albeit in a motorhome) and he always has theories of how to build the perfect camp fire. ;)

rhapsodyinbooks 6/25/18, 12:03 PM  

Wow, wish I had your mom's energy!

Vicki 6/25/18, 2:05 PM  

Happy Birthday to your mom! She sounds like an amazing woman and is very inspiring. I wish her many many more birthdays!

The Kephart book sounds really interesting to me.

Kay 6/25/18, 4:23 PM  

Your Mom sounds amazing! Good for her and I hope her 90th is the best birthday yet!

Yvonne 6/25/18, 6:17 PM  

Happy Birthday to your mom! How wonderful!

pussreboots 6/25/18, 7:27 PM  

The Wild Blues is on my wishilst. My weekly updates

Donna H 6/25/18, 7:33 PM  

My reviewer Susan read The Lost Vintage and enjoyed it. Her review will be up on Wednesday.

bermudaonion 6/25/18, 7:34 PM  

Your mom sounds even more amazing than mine, although mine has a year and a half on yours.

The Lost Vintage looks like something I'd like.

Sue Jackson 6/25/18, 8:02 PM  

Ooh...these both sound good! I enjoy dual-time-period stories - just read one I liked called The Lightkeeper's Daughter.

Enjoy your books this week -

Sue

2018 Big Book Summer Challenge

Nise' 6/25/18, 10:28 PM  

Your mom is my hero! Wishing her many more years. Loved Saskia's narration. And love, love Beth Kephart, look forward to every new book.

Katherine P 6/27/18, 11:37 AM  

Happy birthday to your mom! She sounds amazing! I'm really curious about The Lost Vintage. The cover caught my eye but I never really looked at the blurb. It sounds like one I'd enjoy!

(Diane) bookchickdi 7/1/18, 8:27 AM  

I really enjoyed The Lost Vintage too.
I find that in most books with dual timelines that one story is much stronger than the other, but in this one, I was equally interested in both.

Martha Eskuchen 7/5/18, 9:47 PM  

Your mom sounds wonderful - Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns!
I am so glad to see you liked Wild Blues. It sounded good to me. Thanks for sharing.

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