Spotlight/US Giveaway: Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

More Americans are drinking wine than ever before, yet the rituals, customs, and language around it are as rarefied and opaque as ever, leaving many of us wondering what all the fuss is about. What makes the bottle I bought for last week’s dinner party “bad”? Are sommeliers just pretentious, glorified salespeople, or can they actually taste things like pyrazine and honeysuckle in wine? And why do so many people devote their lives (or life savings) to experiencing minute differences in flavor that most of us can’t even perceive, let alone appreciate? These were some of the questions obsessing Bianca Bosker when she decided to give up her job as executive tech editor at the Huffington Post in favor of tasting wines at 8 a.m., lifting and sorting heavy bottles as a “cellar rat” in one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, and foregoing coffee, spicy foods, and sometimes even toothpaste in order to taste better.

The account of her year-and-a-half journey, CORK DORK: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste(Penguin Books Original; ISBN: 9780143128090; On-sale: March 28, 2017; $17.00) takes the reader inside an elite tasting group, a Burgundy bacchanal, a Michelin-starred restaurant, an fMRI machine, and more as Bosker strives to make sense, once and for all, of our complicated relationship with fermented grape juice.

Compulsively readable, fascinating, and a hilarious exploration of the wine world, CORK DORK includes:

  • Bosker’s training for and entry into the country’s oldest sommelier competition, with hilariously disastrous results (though she does eventually become certified)
  • Behind-the-scenes looks at two elite Manhattan restaurants, where she trailed sommeliers and watched the complicated dance of service and hospitality unfold
  • The science behind how we can improve our senses of taste and smell, and thereby live more richly

Full of amazing stories, incredible facts, and scientific research, CORK DORK is a charming, informative memoir that digs deep into how improving our senses can help create a more colorful life.

About the Author:
Bianca Bosker is an award-winning journalist who has written about food, wine, architecture, and technology for The New Yorker online, The Atlantic, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The New Republic. The former executive tech editor of The Huffington Post, she is the author of the critically acclaimed book Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China (University of Hawaii Press, 2013). She lives in New York City.


US Giveaway

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GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

 

Giveaway ends on April 5th, 2017


CORK DORK:
A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers,
Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
Bianca Bosker ▪ Penguin Original ▪ $17.00

On-sale: March 28, 2017 ▪ ISBN: 9780143128090

ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK


Advance Praise for CORK DORK:

 “A page-turning and fascinating memoir…. Bosker’s mix of science, food writing, and memoir will be enjoyed by many.”  Publishers Weekly

 

“Always perceptive, curious, and entertaining, [Bianca] describes her experiences with precision and a wry sense of humor, locating the exact words to evoke even the most insubstantial sensations. Readers will certainly come away from the book knowing more about wine and likely eager to explore it further, but even those less inclined to imbibe will be intrigued by Bosker’s insights into the nature of smell and taste and the ways training and attention can increase one’s pleasure in them.”  Kirkus, Starred Review

 

“I loved this book. It’s not just about wine. It’s about learning how to listen to your senses, to more deeply experience and appreciate the world around you, and everyone could use another glass of that.” —Mary Roach, author of Gulp


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A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

a-bridge-across-the-ocean-blog-tour-banner


  • the-bridge-across-the-ocean-319Title:  A Bridge Across the Ocean
  • Author:  Susan Meissner
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women—past and present—in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life.

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings. (publisher)

My take:  Annaliese was a German girl with hopes of being a ballet dancer. Those hopes were dashed when she unknowingly caught the eye of a Nazi official. After a few weeks of dinners out he convinced her (creepily) to marry him. Her life would never be the same.

Simone’s father and brother were murdered before her eyes. Somehow she followed directions her father had laid out for her to get to safety. It was a harrowing journey but it eventually led her to a new path in life. Annaliese and Simone met in England and sailed on the Queen Mary to the US along with hundreds of other war brides. Once again, things didn’t go as planned.

Brette is a young married woman in California. She’s been able to see things (think spirits) most people can’t for most of her life. After a tour of the Queen Mary (rumored to be haunted) she knows she needs to find answers to a few questions. Her day on the ship compels her to search for Simone and Annaliese. She also hopes to find a way to be comfortable with her ability.

A Bridge Across the Ocean is the story of three women faced with life-changing challenges. Two of their stories took place during WWII and one, Brette’s, is present day. Told from the three perspectives I felt the novel unfolded at a good pace and a few chapters in I had a tough time putting it down. It’s a tale about crossing bridges in life. Often what one finds on the other side is not as frightening as imagined. It’s a story of bravery, acceptance and forgiveness.


 

The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart

  • the-last-chance-matineeTitle:  The Last Chance Matinee
  • Series:  The Hudson Sisters #1
  • Author:  Mariah Stewart
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for. (publisher)

My take: The Last Chance Matinee is the story of three women who, upon the death of their father, discover sisters they hadn’t known about before his passing. They meet at the reading of his will and are shocked to learn about each other. Des and Allie had the same mother and father. Cara grew up an only child of a free-spirited mother and Fritz who travelled for work much of the time. It all made sense now.

A stipulation of their inheritance is they must bring back to life the theatre in Fritz’s hometown. The small town of Hidden Falls, Pennsylvania, situated in the Poconos, will become the women’s home until the project is completed. That doesn’t seem to bother Des or Cara but Allie has a huge problem since it will mean she has to leave her fourteen year old daughter who lives with her ex-husband part of the time. Allie is angry about many things and deals with her problems by drinking.

Des is a former child star (who never wanted to be in television) who found the quiet life as an adult in Montana and devoting herself to animal rescue. She’s excited about the renovation project and the prospect of starting a rescue in Hidden Falls.

Cara left her New Jersey shore yoga studio (and her former husband who was now engaged to a former friend) in the care of her co-worker. Knowing it’s in good hands she looks forward to being project manager on the theater rehab. She also loves the idea of having sisters, an aunt, and a niece when she thought she had no family at all.

The Last Chance Matinee introduces the characters and the storyline of Mariah Stewart’s new series. There’s a focus on Cara getting a new chance at life and love which I enjoyed. I liked reading about the resurrection of the theatre and all it meant to everyone involved.

Recommended to fans of Mariah Stewart and contemporary fiction. I look forward to reading what happens in the next book!


Praise for The Last Chance Matinee:

“The combination of a quirky small-town setting, a family mystery, a gentle romance, and three estranged sisters is catnip for women’s-fiction fans, and the backdrop of the faded movie palace adds a fascinating element to the story. Stewart’s lively, warmhearted series starter [The Last Chance Matinee] will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.”  —Booklist

“A good read, with a nice blend of mystery, family drama, and romance. Readers will look forward to the next installment.”  —Library Journal


About Mariah Stewart:

Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her at mariahstewart.com and follow her on Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.

Note:

Mariah Stewart’s separate series, the bestselling Chesapeake Diaries, has been a favorite with readers since 2010. The eleventh installment, The Chesapeake Bride, will publish August 29, 2017.


THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE

by Mariah Stewart

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • $16.00 Trade Paperback Original
  • ISBN: 9781501144905
  • Fiction
  • Book 1 in the Hudson Sisters series

Look for Book 2 in 2018 and Book 3 in 2019!


Blog Tour:

March 21st

USA Today Happy Ever After – Down & Dirty Q&A

Happy Mom Blogger

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Devilishly Delicious

Collectors of Book Boyfriends

Tome Tender Book Blog

Uniquec’s Book Blog

March 22nd

The Book Nympho

Books and Bindings

Rockin’ and Reviewing

Lovey Dovey Books

Community Bookstop

Bubble Bath Books

Sour Puss Reviews

March 23rd

The Blonde Bookworm

Bookfan

I Wish I Lived in a Library

PNW Bookworm

Mesha’s Corner

The Librarian (Authors on the Air Global Radio Network) – Interview 7:00 pm ET

March 24th

Kritters Ramblings

My Novelesque Life

Reviews by Crystal

Novelgossip

Romance Junkies

March 25th

Abigail Books Addiction

Rainy Day Reviews

Books According to Abby

Once Upon A Page

That Book Lady Blog

March 26th

Dawn’s Reading Nook

March 27th

Suzy Approved Book Reviews

March 28th

The Written Word(s)

March 29th

Hardly A Goddess

March 30th

Lit Living Mom

March 31st

Tiff Scribes

April 1st

Bigreadersite’s Blog

April 3rd

Staircase Wit

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 7th

Svetlana’s Reads and Views

April 10th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 14th

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

April 17th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 21st

Community Bookstop

April 24th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

May 25th

First for Women

Review in First for Women magazine’s June 19th print issue, on stands May 25th!

 


Events with Mariah Stewart:

Tuesday, March 21st, 7:00 pm

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Concord Mall
  • 4801 Concord Pike
  • Wilmington, DE 19803

Sunday, March 26th, 4:30 pm

  • “An Afternoon With The Author – Mariah Stewart”
  • Hockessin Bookshelf
    7179 Lancaster Pike
    Hockessin, DE 19707

Wednesday, April 5th, 6:30 pm

  • The Doylestown Bookshop
  • 16 S. Main Street
  • Doylestown, Pa 18901

Tuesday, April 11th, 7:00 pm

  • Towne Book Centre
  • 220 Plaza Drive – Ste B3
  • Collegeville, PA 19426

 

 

 

Finding Our Forever by Brenda Novak

  • finding-our-foreverTitle:  Finding Our Forever
  • Series:  Silver Springs #1
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  224
  • Published:  March 2017 – Harlequin Special Edition
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Cora Kelly was adopted as an infant by affluent parents and lived a good life. That didn’t stop the need to know who her birth parents were and why they gave her up. When her search leads to her birth mother will she be prepared for the answers.
Cora, an art teacher, interviews at the school for troubled boys that was founded by Aiyana, her birth mother. The person who hired her is Eli, one of Aiyana’s adopted sons. Cora is stunned to know that her birth mother would let her go but adopt several sons. One more question that needs an answer. Eli will figure prominently in Cora’s story. They have an attraction to each other that neither bothers to fight. Lots of intimate scenes for these two. On one level that kind of bothered me. On another level it was understandable.
I thought the resolution of Cora and Eli’s story was surprisingly quick and pat. I can live with that. Finding Our Forever is the first in a new contemporary romance series by Brenda Novak. I liked it and look forward to reading the books that follow.


 

Forever a Hero by Linda Lael Miller

  • forever-a-heroTitle:  Forever a Hero
  • Series:  The Carsons of Mustang Creek #3
  • Author:  Linda Lael Miller
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  March 2017 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley; Little Bird Publicity

Description:  For the youngest Carson brother, finding—and fixing—trouble seems to be all in a day’s work.

Mace Carson doesn’t consider himself a hero. Back in college, he came upon a woman in trouble and intervened—but he was just one irate Wyoming cowboy with his boots planted firmly on the side of right. Now a successful vintner, Mace is shocked to be reunited with the woman he saved. But it turns out she’s in Wyoming on business…a corporate executive representing the company that wants to buy his winery. Only, he’s not selling. 

Kelly Wright has never forgotten that horrible night ten years ago when Mace came to her rescue, has never forgotten him. The surprising success of a winery in the middle of ranch country has brought her to Mustang Creek, and she’s secretly thrilled to discover Mace at the helm. Reluctant to mix business with pleasure, Kelly vows to keep things professional, until her attacker is released from prison and comes for vengeance…against both of them. (publisher)

My take:  It was fun to return to Wyoming and to see what was new with the Carson family in Forever a Hero. Linda Lael Miller’s stories about three brothers connected to the family ranch had me from the start. And it drew to a fitting close with this book.

It had to be fate ten years ago when Mace Carson rescued Kelly Wright from an attacker on their college campus. But because of circumstances there was no chance to have more of a relationship at that time. He’d be remembered by Kelly as her hero. They both moved on with their lives. One failed marriage and ten years later Kelly is working for a company that wants to buy Mace’s wine – all of his wine. He may not want to sell but he’d like to get to know Kelly more and maybe convince her to work for him. All bets are off when the man who attacked her is released from prison. Could he possibly be the person who sent her a menacing text? Once again, Mace is ready to step up and keep her safe.

This book is typical Miller in that the romance is so nice, it’s filled with funny people and pets, and the setting is spectacular. Those reasons are why I keep picking up her books and look forward to the next one. Recommended to fans of Linda Lael Miller and contemporary romance.


lindalaelmiller_authorphotoAbout the author:

“First Lady of the West” Linda Lael Miller has written more than 100 contemporary and historical novels. She was awarded the prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romance Writers of America in 2007 and the RT Book Reviews Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.


PRAISE FOR THE CARSONS OF MUSTANG CREEK TRILOGY

“[A] marvelous contemporary Western trilogy launch…fraught with amazing chemistry.” — Publishers Weekly Starred Review on Once a Rancher

“Another deftly crafted western romance by a true master of the genre, [Once a Rancher] continues to showcase this author’s truly impressive storytelling talents. A riveting read from beginning to end.” — Midwest Book Review on Once a Rancher

“Miller’s deep knowledge and love of the West shine through in a refreshing, tender romance that sees another Carson brother blissfully bite the dust and seamlessly bring fans up-to-date with characters they’ve come to love.” Library Journal on Always a Cowboy

“Longing has a way of overcoming doubts, and readers will root for this appealing couple. The glimpses of ranch life and the extended Carson family make this a Western to remember.” — BookPage on Always a Cowboy

“Miller writes some of the best cowboy books around.” — BookTrib on Always a Cowboy


Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

        

Last week on Bookfan:

   

Reading plan for this week: