Girl Scout cookie, wine and book pairings!

It’s that time of year again! I always think of March when I think of girl scout cookies since that is when they usually come in and get delivered to us. This year is a little different since you could get them delivered to your house as early as last month I think, but I still think of the start of spring as Girl Scout cookie season. In that line of thinking I thought it would be fun to do a Girl Scout cookie pairing! And obviously we need to have a book pairing, but I wanted to throw in a wine pairing too just because I’m not able to drink wine right now and I can’t wait to be able to have some again (in a few months).

Cookie: Samoas
Flavor profile: coconut, chocolate, caramel, weird combo but works for some people (does NOT work for me personally, but this tends to be a popular cookie so I’m including it)
Wine pairing: Sauternes, hands down
Book pairing: Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa – this was somewhat of an opposites attract while also having a lot of tension, drama, and sweetness.

Cookie: Do-si-do’s
Flavor profile: classic peanut butter flavor, crunchy, nutty, next best peanut butter cookie (after Tagalongs)
Wine pairing: Lambrusco – it’s a sweet and bubbly red and I think it would be interesting with the do-si-do flavor
Book pairing: Either the Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson or the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole – I like the idea of the cookie and wine pairing with either of these series, it’s a little different but its some great material you can really sink your teeth into (ha)

Cookie: Trefoils
Flavor profile: classic, shortbread, not too sweet, easy to eat, not overly addictive so they last longer on your shelf
Wine pairing: I’d go with Riesling on this one – I’d be interested to try it with both a sweet and a dry Riesling too!
Book pairing: Now You See Her by Linda Howard – staying in the realm of “classics”, this is one of my all-time favorite books and one that I can leave on the shelf and pick up when I need it.

Cookie: Smores cookies
Flavor profile: chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow, reminiscent of a campfire, sweet, delicious
Wine pairing: I would try these with a port, I’d also be interested to see how it pairs with maybe a buttery Chardonnay
Book pairing: One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase – mostly because they have campfires outside and it seems like a great book to pair with a smores cookie!

Cookie: Thin Mints
Flavor profile: Minty, refreshing, crispy, thin, chocolatey, not-overpowering, could eat a whole sleeve
Wine pairing: I would try these with either a Moscato or a Zinfandel
Book pairing: Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden – set in Russia, this book really transports you to a magical (and often snowy) world. It was so refreshing and I really enjoyed the whole series.

Cookie: Tagalongs
Flavor profile: Nutty, smooth, creamy, delicious! (these are my favorite!)
Wine pairing: I think this could actually pair with a variety but I’d try it with either a Pinot Noir or a Tawny Port
Book pairing: Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey – She’s a little nutty, he’s a stable cookie that helps support the whole thing, and together they find the perfect balance and are a perfect match! Plus this one was one of my FAVORITE reads from recent times, so it fits that it would pair with my favorite cookie.

I’d love to hear from you readers, what cookie/wine pairings or cookie/book pairings are you tempted to try? Or any other suggestions for good pairings you have?

Happy reading and hope you all get to enjoy some Girl Scout cookies soon!

Quilting Retreat 2019

Quilting-Retreat-1

For those of you that don’t know, I attend a couple different quilting retreats with my Mom every year. You can see my post on last year’s retreat here. I also have a couple older posts from 20142015, and 2016 retreats. I’m not a quilter but I have found over the years that a quilting retreat is a great way to get some good reading done! So I tag along and while all the other ladies are quilting, I read! This year I was also determined that I be creative as well so I brought a coloring book to try and enhance my creative abilities. I also ended up helping one of the ladies with a project for a quilt she was making that was super fun! This year was another super productive and fun year, and I wanted to share with you readers a run-down of what happens at our mystical retreat weekends!

Here was my overall schedule for the weekend:

schedule

We started retreat on Thursday afternoon this year, which was earlier than in recent years. The extra time made a big difference and allowed me just a bit more time to get reading and other things done! Below are some highlights and pictures from the weekend:

  • Thursday:
    • First picture colored! I purchased this Magical Planner on Amazon a few weeks ago because (a) I like magical things and (b) I like coloring. I already have a planner but I liked the information this planner has and I’m hoping to learn something new! Below are before and after pictures of the coloring! Love how all the colors really make the picture come alive.

  • Friday:
    • Mom and I went to a local winery, Chamard Vineyards, and did a tasting. We go here every year to get a stamp in our CT Winery Passports and also because we like wine! I snagged a few pictures below from the winery, which is beautiful.

  • Saturday:
    • My handsome husband came to visit! We shared a delicious lunch and then went for a hike. The retreat center where we go for the Quilt Retreat has extensive trails and also various sporting gear. We found a basketball court along the way and decided to stop and shoot a couple hoops (picture below!). There’s also a gorgeous outdoor worship space that I love taking pictures of every year, it’s right on the water and is just so peaceful. Picture included below!

  • Sunday:
    • I helped one of my friends, Debbie, with a quilt she was working on! I like stretching my creative muscles during retreat and I had great fun helping Debbie pick out which fabrics to use for the doggy glasses!

20190602_123819

I also included a picture below of a few other quilts that ladies (and mom) were working on during the weekend and another picture that I colored during the weekend. Also my desk space where I hang out for the weekend is pictured below!

 

Wine and Cocktails – New Releases!

So I have some wine and cocktail books that I was approved to review through NetGalley recently. I don’t really count these as “books read” since when I read a collections of information like this, I don’t necessarily read every single page. But I thought I would still share these books with you guys in case something snags your interest!

The Periodic Table of Cocktails by Emma Stokes – 4.75 stars

41VZ4n1CyBL._SY346_I really enjoyed this book a lot, I actually added it to my Amazon wishlist to purchase in the near future! This was a really creative way to present groups of cocktails with similar characteristics. There was a great chapter on martinis that I learned a lot from. There’s too much information in this book to really retain everything long-term but this would make a great reference book for cocktails, both classic and modern recipes. I loved too that there was so much information included on the background/history of the cocktail and how it originated. This book gave me some great ideas on new cocktails to make and I can’t wait to try them!

The Periodic Table of Wine by Sarah Rowlands – 4.0 stars

41Cpv3xCVALThis was a good book about a lot of different kinds of wine, and it includes a great general description of flavor characteristics and different wine-making styles of grapes and regions. Again, this isn’t something that you can retain all the information but it is a great reference text for types of wines. I also really liked that the grapes were grouped into similar categories and each wine gave recommendations for other wines to try if you liked that wine, making it easy to find a new wine that you might like!

Rose All Day by Katherine Cole – 3.5 stars

414mPAa8SRL._SY346_This book had a great amount of history included as to how Rose as a wine came about and also how it became popular, there was much more history there than I ever realized. I also didn’t realize there was quite so many variations of Rose from the different regions of the world. This is, again, not something that you can retain all the information from but is a great reference text for a Rose lover.

2016 Book #80 – The 24 Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson

511+iHZXRDL._SX359_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The 24 Hour Wine Expert
Author: Jancis Robinson
Date finished: 8/25/16
Genre: Non-fiction, informational
Publisher: Abrams Image
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Pages in book: 112
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Many wine drinkers wish they knew more without having to understand every nuance or go to expensive wine tastings. In her new book, Jancis Robinson, the leading international authority on wine, grants the wishes of would-be wine experts the world over. With The 24-Hour Wine Expert, anyone can learn all that is really important about wine in a single day. In her pithy, approachable, comprehensive guide, Robinson shares her expertise with authority, wit, and approachability, tackling questions such as how to select the right bottle at retail, what wine labels signify, how to understand the properties of color and aroma, and how to match food and wine. Robinson’s proposition is irresistible: In just 24 hours, anyone can become a wine expert. So pour a glass and get reading!

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my ARC August 2016 Reading Challenge. This book has a lot of information about wine jam-packed into just over 100 pages. The author discusses several topics, including how to pick a bottle of wine, how to taste wine, and discusses several popular varietals and growing regions. I’ve spent some time learning about wine already so I had a foundation of knowledge going into reading this. I still learned a lot of tid-bits, plus I love that there is so much knowledge summarized in such a compact manner. This is the kind of book that would be great to keep on hand for referencing whenever I run into questions. A good read with a lot of good information, I would definitely check this one out!

The bottom line: I thought this was a very good resource for information about wine. It has a lot of great information jam packed into one book and would be a great resource for someone looking to learn more about wine.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #49 – The California Wife by Kristen Harnisch

51WyJn1TKoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The California Wife
Author: Kristen Harnisch
Date finished: 5/19/16
Genre: Hisorical fiction
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: Sequel to The Vintner’s Daughter
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

It is 1897, and Sara and Philippe Lemieux, newly married and full of hope for the future, are determined to make Eagle’s Run, their Napa vineyard, into a world-renowned winemaking operation. But the swift arrival of the 20th century brings a host of obstacles they never dreamed of: price wars and the twin threats of phylloxera and Prohibition endanger the success of their business, and the fiercely independent Sara is reluctant to leave the fields behind for the new and strange role of wife and mother.
An invitation to the World’s Fair in 1900 comes just in time to revive the vineyard’s prospects, and amid the jewel-colored wonders of Belle Époque Paris, Sara and Philippe’s passion is rekindled as well. But then family tragedy strikes, and, upon their return to California, a secret from Philippe’s past threatens to derail their hard-won happiness in one stroke.
Sara gains an ally when Marie Chevreau, her dear friend, arrives in San Francisco as the first female surgery student to be admitted to prestigious Cooper Medical College. Through Marie, Sara gets a glimpse of the glittering world of San Francisco’s high society, and she also forges friendships with local women’s rights advocates, inciting new tensions in her marriage. Philippe issues Sara an ultimatum: will she abandon the struggle for freedom to protect her family’s winemaking business, or will she ignore Philippe and campaign for a woman’s right to vote and earn a fair wage?
Fate has other plans in store in the spring of 1906, which brings with it a challenge unlike any other that the Lemieux family or their fellow Northern Californians have ever faced. Will the shadow of history overwhelm Sara and Philippe’s future, despite their love for each other? In The California Wife, Kristen Harnisch delivers a rich, romantic tale of wine, love, new beginnings, and a family’s determination to fight for what really matters―sure to captivate fans of The Vintner’s Daughter and new readers alike.

My rating: 4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read The Vintner’s Daughter last year, which was Harnisch’s debut novel, and just loved it. Sara’s story was compelling and I was so glad that she found someone she loved to spend the rest of her life with. And this book, The California Wife, picks up right where the last book left us and continues on with Sara and Philippe’s story. Honestly I think that this was one of the things I loved most about this book. Even though I wouldn’t call The Vintner’s Daughter a true romance novel, there was a happy ending. And usually that is where the reader is left, with the characters walking off into the “happily ever after” fog of dawn. But this book takes the story past that point and shows what love really is. Its fights and struggles and sometimes its being the strong partner and sometimes the weak. Its not always pretty and its not always fun but it is real. And the marriage in this book felt real to me, more than most I’ve read before.
Sara and Philippe encounter a number of struggles in this book but they manage to work together to overcome their many obstacles. Interwoven with their story is Marie’s story after she moves to San Francisco to attend surgical school. Marie was also in the first book, she housed Lydia and Sara when they first arrived in New York and was working as a midwife in the city. Marie has to overcome a lot of prejudice and judgement when she decides to attend surgical school in San Francisco, but there is nothing else she wants more that to be able to help/heal people and save lives, so she pushes through and excels. It is at school that she meets Matthew Donnelly, a skilled surgeon who encourages Marie in her studies. There are many dramatic events included in the story, all of which are dealt with by Sara and her family.
Overall I really liked this book. I did not want to put it down, every time I thought that we were about to settle into a lull in the story something else would happen to keep me on my toes. Harnisch does a great job of making the plot line flow together even with months/years between events and alternating story lines. I loved Sara’s character and I loved how real her marriage was with Philippe. And I loved seeing the insights into medicine and surgery at that time through Marie’s schooling, those scenes were very interesting! All in all this was a great read and  I can’t wait to see how the story continues in the next book.

The bottom line: This was a great continuation of Sara and Philippe’s story. I was a huge fan of Harnisch’s first novel, The Vintner’s Daughter, and I loved being able to continue seeing Sara’s journey. This book is poignantly raw and emotional, not sugar-coating anything for the reader but instead being true to the struggles of life after the initial “happily-ever-after.” A great read, I would most definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #30 – The Winemakers by Jan Moran

51+6MKE8BTL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Winemakers: A Novel of Wine and Secrets
Author: Jan Moran
Date finished: 4/5/16
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Pages in book: 369
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she’s never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret — a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for. Many years before, her mother’s hard-won dreams of staking her family’s claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past.From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of the Rosetta family: Caterina, her mother Ava, and her new daughter Marisa. This book reminded me a lot of Kristen Harnisch’s The Vintner’s Daughter, which I LOVED. For anyone who likes this book you should also read hers, or vice versa.  The family owns a winery in Napa, California and has well respected wines that rival those in Europe. The book mostly takes place in 1956, though there are some flashbacks to 1928 and 1929 when Ava came to America. One of the things that particularly struck me about this book was the emphasis on lack of women’s rights during both of those time periods. Caterina has a baby out of wedlock and many times is told directly to her face that she’s a whore and should be ashamed of herself. Which I think is both sad that someone would speak to her that way and also just odd considering how far we’ve come away from that in today’s day and age. I would have to say it is definitely not uncommon to know several people who were either unwed when they had a child or are still unwed with a child. Society has been almost forced to accept this as a norm, so it was just interesting to see how unaccepted it was in a different time period.
Anyways, there were multiple things going on in this book. There was the budding but tragic romance between Caterina and Marisa’s father. There was the family drama that caused Ava to come to America all those years ago, which resurfaces when Caterina’s grandmother dies and leaves her a house in Italy in her will. There was the drama between Ava and Caterina over Marisa. And finally there was the struggle to save the winery (and their home) after disaster strikes. All in all there were multiple plot points all intertwined, which made for a very exciting read. I honestly couldn’t put this one down, I technically started it Sunday night late (around 10:30pm) and then couldn’t stop reading it on Monday and ended up finishing it at 12:30 am Monday morning.
Overall I really enjoyed this book a lot. The conversations were slightly stilted at times and somewhat awkward at others but it didn’t effect my enjoyment of the book. Also I thought the ending came up a bit quick and honestly I thought it was a little odd. I’m glad it had a (**spoiler**) happy ending but it just took me back a little bit that the challenge the couple had to overcome at the end was so.. different from other books I’ve read. Things I enjoyed about the book though included the description of the scenery in Italy, which was excellent, and the narratives about the wine-making process were informative and interesting. Great book and a great read, I think this one is going to be a popular one for 2016 summer.

The bottom line: Really really liked this book! I couldn’t put it down, the story line was riveting. Conversations seemed a tad stilted to me but other than that it was just a great book! I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #27 – The Vintner’s Daughter by Kristen Harnisch

91RlN2kmnQL

Title: The Vintner’s Daughter
Author: Kristen Harnisch
Date finished: 4/5/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Pages in book: 355
Stand alone or series: Rumored to be the first of a future series on winemaking through the centuries

Blurb from the cover:

Loire Valley, 1895. When seventeen-year-old Sara Thibault’s father is killed in a mudslide, her mother sells their vineyard to a rival family whose eldest son marries Sara’s sister, Lydia. But a violent tragedy compels Sara and her sister to flee to New York, forcing Sara to put aside her dream to follow in her father’s footsteps as a master winemaker. Meanwhile, Philippe Lemieux has arrived in California with the ambition of owning the largest vineyard in Napa by 1900. When he receives word of his brother’s death in France, he resolves to bring the killer to justice. Sara has travelled to California in hopes of making her own way in the winemaking world. When she encounters Philippe in a Napa vineyard, they are instantly drawn to one another, but Sara knows he is the one man who could return her family’s vineyard to her, or send her straight to the guillotine. This riveting tale of betrayal, retribution, love, and redemption, Kristen Harnisch’s debut novel immerses readers in the rich vineyard culture of both the Old and New Worlds, the burgeoning cities of late nineteenth-century America and a spirited heroine’s fight to determine her destiny.

My rating: 4.75 stars out of a scale of 5
My review: This book will count for the challenge I am participating in for April, the #ReadingMyLibrary reading challenge. I saw this book at the Bristol Library and thought it might be interesting. I have found over the past few years that I have a fascination with wine, I have taken a number classes to learn more about the different kinds of grapes and the winemaking process. So I picked this book up due to it  being about wine. It turned out to be just fantastic. It was very well-paced, I can honestly day I wasn’t bored once. It had everything you could like in a novel; murder, love, family, death, new birth. This book is rumored to be the first in a series about winemaking throughout the last century, and I honestly just can not wait for this author to publish her next novel. This book was so good, I was hooked on the story pretty much from the beginning and I couldn’t let go. The characters came alive for me and I would get so engrossed in the story that I would have trouble dragging my mind back to reality. The descriptions of the rolling hillsides of Napa as well as the description of the Saint Martin vineyard in France (Loire Valley) was just beautiful. Very good novel.

The bottom line:  LOVED this book! Love love love, can’t wait for her to publish her next one. I can not say enough good things about this book.

Link to author website
Link to Amazon