Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

Title: The Bookstore
Author: Deborah Meyler
Publisher: Gallery/ Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
ISBN: 9781476714240
Number of Pages: 336
How I Got It: purchased
Format: paperback

Goodreads Description:

A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan. Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.
Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.
The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?
A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

My Review:
I was initially drawn to this novel because I loved the cover and I can't resist a book set in a bookstore. Add to this an unexpected pregnancy and I'm hooked. Oh, there was everything I could ask for in the description. I mean, even the bookstore's name...The Owl? Come on. I should have been loving every word, right? Sadly, no. I was so frustrated with Esme's back and forth with her boyfriend, who is a total dick from a family of total dicks and wanted more about the bookstore, more literary references, and more in depth descriptions of the secondary characters. I think The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry set me up for disappointment with this read. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Matzo Frogs by Sally Rosenthal with Art by David Sheldon

Title: Matzo Frogs
Author: Sally Rosenthal / Art by David Sheldon
Publisher: NewSouth Books
Publication Date: April 9, 2014
ISBN: 9781588383020
Number of Pages: 32
How I Got It: direct from publisher
Format: Hardcover


An entertaining and educational new picture book with a Jewish theme conveys an enduring message about the importance of mitzvot, community, and teamwork. 
This charmingly told and illustrated tale is a special blend of story and life lesson from an Emmy-award winning documentary filemaker and first-time author, Sally Rosenthal, with artwork by David Sheldon.
When kind-hearted Minnie spills the matzo ball soup she was making for Shabbat dinner, the frogs who live in a nearby pond spring into action. They decide to save Minnie's Shabbat by making a new pot of soup while she is out -- a mitzvah from one neighbor to another. Together, the frogs work through the recipe, meeting every challenge with an amphibian solution: chopping carrots by playing leapfrog, using a long sticky tongue to pull a cookbook off a shelf, and giving each other a helping hop wherever they can.

My Review: 

Kids (and adults) will love this book from the first line: "One sunny morning, Minnie Feinsilver cooked dinner instead of breakfast."  She is making Shabbat dinner for her cousins but accidentally spills her matzo ball soup! The frogs in the pond next door decide that they will make the soup while Minnie is gone for the day. Matzo Frogs highlights teamwork and good deeds, with a mini-cooking lesson thrown in by some fun, cute frogs.  This book is great not only for Jewish children but also as a teaching tool to explain a small aspect of the Jewish faith.     

Kirkus Reviews says, "The story's amusing arc with its altruistic message culminates with a sculpted matzo-ball frog left as a floating clue in the soup, prompting one more mitzvah in grateful acknowledgment. A Jewish audience will appreciate the overall significance of the concept and context; Gentiles will get a kick out of the kind frogs."

Bestselling children's book authors Eric Kimmel, Daniel Pinkwater, and Michelle Edwards all loved Matzo Frogs. Read their favorable comments and learn more about the book at http://www.newsouthbooks.com/matzofrogs.

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

Title: The Supreme Macaroni Company
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 352
How I Got It: Laura Fabiani 
Format: Paperback

About the book:
In The Supreme Macaroni Company, Adriana Trigiani transports readers from the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village to lush New Orleans to Italy and back again while exploring the tricky dynamics between Old World craftsmanship and New World ambition, all amid a passionate love affair that fuels one woman's determination to have it all.

For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret.

But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the hard reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Confronted with painful choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: "A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything." Now the proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves—the bitter and the sweet of life itself.

Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: an unforgettable narrative about family, work, romance, and the unexpected turns of life and fate.

About the author:
Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. Her books include the New York Times bestseller The Shoemaker's Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; and the bestselling memoir Don't Sing at the Table, as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. She wrote the screenplay for Big Stone Gap, which she also directed. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Adriana here: adrianatrigiani.com
Twitter: @adrianatrigiani
Facebook: facebook.com/adrianatrigiani

My Review:
I listened to the first two books of the Valentine series on audio and loved them. This book is a wonderful 3rd addition and I loved reading it as much as I enjoyed listening to the first two. I'm sure a lot of readers were excited that Valentine was getting married and going to have a wedding. I'm not interested in weddings but I did want Gianluca and Valentine to finally be together on the same continent, and not constantly being ships passing in the night. I also personally liked that the wedding wasn't the "big finish." Trigiani shows the difficulty of work / life balance and the constant compromises that come with a marriage.