#BookReview: Cask Strength by Mike Gerrard

Solid Look At History, Current Uses, and Future Of The Barrel. At just 240 pages or so – and just 14% or so of that bibliography, which is where the single star deduction comes in – this is far from a truly in-depth look at the topic. But as kind of a “Barrel 101”, this book really works. The majority of the text focuses on the various current uses of barrels, mostly dealing with the various forms of alcohol stored in them – everything from liquors to wines to even beers – but also delving into even, surprisingly, hot sauce. Shorter sections deal with the millenia-old history of the barrel and with its most modern incarnations and looking to what the future might hold for the technology.

Indeed, for what it is, the only truly glaring weakness here is in fact the dearth of a bibliography, clocking in at just about 14% of the overall text, when 20-30% is more typical in my extensive experience with nonfiction Advance Reviewer Copies.

Overall a quick, fun, and informative read that will give you yet more esoteric knowledge and trivia and thus expand your horizons just that much more. Very much recommended.

This review of Cask Strength by Mike Gerrard was originally written on June 18, 2023.

#BlogTour: Secrets At The House By The Creek by Elizabeth Bromke

For this blog tour we’re looking at one of the better trilogy-ending books I’ve ever come across, as everything in this tale is geared at telling its own tale *within the context* of wrapping up the entire trilogy. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Secrets At The House By The Creek by Elizabeth Bromke.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

All Will Be Revealed. In this conclusion to the Brambleberry Creek story, series-running questions are answered, series-running plans are executed, and everyone gets some form of their happy ending. Thus making this a perfect trilogy-ending book. Yet again on the shorter side at 273 pages, Bromke manages to pack quite a few laughs, a few tears, and even a touch of steam into a generally shorter tale – and, again, manages to wrap everything up while doing so. Truly an excellent series and an excellent endpoint to that series, with a solid send-off to boot. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BlogTour: The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane

For this blog tour we’re looking at a tale where the author can *finally* combine “both halves” of who she is as a storyteller. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Slight Departure From Lane’s Typical Approach, Same Great Storytelling. I think this may be the first dual timeline book I’ve encountered from Lane, who normally writes historical fiction – mostly WWII – under this name. Here, we get a WWII story… but it serves to fill in the holes of the current day mystery, which is the other timeline. This is potentially an excellent starter that does well to both set up a series *and* combine “both” sides of Lane’s storytelling – she also writes actual romance stories as her name without the “M” middle initial, and the romance/ women’s fiction element here is particularly strong in *both* timelines. Which arguably makes this Lane’s strongest book to date, as she is finally able to combine her components into one full “self”. Truly an outstanding work, and very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane”

#BlogTour: The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross

For this blog tour we’re looking at a strong book filled with strongly developed characters. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross.

Solid Women’s Fiction With Historical Elements. This is one of those books where the description perfectly sets up what you’re actually getting here – a tale of siblings finding each other after their father passes away and sets in motion a plan for the three of them to meet. Along the way, they discover their still-living grandmother and get to hear the stories of her activities in WWII – including meeting and falling in love with their grandfather. On these elements, this is a solidly written women’s fiction tale with historical fiction *elements* – but I personally would not market this as a “historical fiction” title. So if you’re a reader that *only* reads historical fiction… I’d still say this one is worthy of your time, just know that you aren’t getting a true tale of that genre here. Indeed, along the story of one of the sisters in particular (and to a lesser extent another of them), this *could* be marketed as a romance – though the women’s fiction side is still the dominant side of the tale. The titular Inheritance? Well, that’s actually the best part of the tale… when you realize what Ross intends it as. Overall a strong book filled with strongly developed characters among is main and primary supporting cast, and a very well told story. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the usual publisher details – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
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Featured New Release Of The Week: These Tangled Vines by Julianne Maclean

This week we’re looking at a remarkable tale of love and family. This week we’re looking at These Tangled Vines by Julianne Maclean.

What A Tangled Web We Weave. This was a strong story of finding yourself, even if that happens a bit later than some would like and creates a bit of a mess. And it was a strong story of ever lasting love, treachery, and forgiveness. All set (mostly) in the idyllic Tuscan countryside. The pacing was solid, the dual timeline worked well – even if a sense of foreboding hung over one of the timelines its entire duration. (We learn early in the book – Chapter 1, IIRC – how that timeline ultimately turns out, so getting there is wonderful, yet also like watching a replay of a momentous event… that you know turns out in disaster.) Overall, the writing here really speaks to the strength of Maclean’s storytelling abilities and shows them to be quite strong indeed. Very much recommended.

#BlogTour: The Vineyard At Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a long, drawn out, soap opera type tale that still manages to work quite well and tell a solid story. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Vineyard At Painted Moon by Susan Mallery.

This is a book that on the whole, worked quite well. For those looking for in-depth character building, slower paced tales, and drama along the lines of a Dynasty-type story (but with wine, rather than oil), this is going to be *exactly* the type of book you’re looking for.

Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

Slow Start, Sordid Middle, Solid End. This is one of those soap opera type books that starts out *slow*. There’s enough to keep most readers hooked, but dang, the pacing could have been a bit tighter. Indeed, the titular Vineyard doesn’t even get mentioned at all until at or after the halfway point in the tale. Instead, quite a bit of detail and most of the story is given to the fall of McKenzie Davis – who the description labels as the primary protagonist, but who never *really* feels as such. This is because so much attention is given to two other characters – Stephanie, McKenzie’s sister-in-law and best friend, and Barbara, McKenzie’s mother-in-law. So to my mind, these three were the core of the story, though McKenzie’s own plot did indeed drive the other two’s for the most part. McKenzie’s story works well, Stephanie shows a great deal of development, and Barbara… starts out regal, yet falls to her own madness to become a character clearly intended to be despised. Still, overall this story could have been shortened by 50-100 pages and still worked just as effectively, maybe moreso with a bit tighter plotting such a reduction in page count would have required. Yet there is nothing technically wrong with this story or the storytelling, and therefore the tale overall gets the full five stars. Very much recommended.

Below the jump we get the first 2.5 or so pages of the book, plus all the relevant information from the publisher. 🙂
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