Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Shorts

The Winemaker by Noah Gordon
ebook published 6/4/12 - print version due 9/12

Synopsis from publisher:

Josep Alvarez is a young man in the tiny grape-growing village of Santa Eulália, in northern Spain, where his father grows black grapes that are turned into cheap vinegar. Joseph loves the agricultural life, but he is the second son, and his father’s vineyard will be inherited by his brother Donat, the firstborn. Josep needs to keep his hands in the soil. He yearns for a job growing grapes and for an opportunity to marry Teresa Gallego.
In Madrid, an assassination plot, conceived against the political leader of Spain by men of wealth and power, creates a storm of intrigue that sucks into its vortex a group of innocent young farm workers in Santa Eulália. How Josep’s life is changed drastically by these events, and how, ironically, they gradually turn him into an inspired vintner with an evolving vision of life, is the fascinating story of The Winemaker.

My thoughts:

This was a good story. I think the synopsis from the publisher is a bit misleading, as the meat of the story was less about political intrigue, and much more about the journey Josep takes as he becomes competent and confident as a winemaker and a man. That said, it was a satisfying character study, and Josep's life and history made for interesting reading. I loved all the details about winemaking, and the historical aspects made me want to learn more about this period in Spain's history. Well done - I think fans of historical fiction will find a lot to enjoy in this novel.

Finished: 6/30/12
Source: review copy from the publisher via Netgalley - thank you!
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and adult situations
My rating: 7/10

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
print version published 5/10

Synopsis from publisher:

In America's Gulf Coast region, grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts by crews of young people. Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota-and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or by chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life....

My thoughts:

Well, I certainly did not know what to expect when I picked this title at I thought the author's name was fun to say, and I'd heard murmurings of positive reviews around the internets, so I decided to give him a try. I'm glad I chose this as an audiobook - it took me a bit to really get into the setting and characters, and if I was reading a physical copy I would most likely have abandoned it. I'm glad I didn't, because once Lucky Girl showed up on the scene, I was hooked. Nailer became stronger as the novel progressed, and Bacigalupi's secondary characters were memorable and exciting. His dystopian world is well-developed and eerily similar to our own. I am very impressed with this Printz-award-winning author, and am looking forward to reading the newest book set in this world! (The Drowned Cities, released May, 2012.)

Finished: 7/2/12
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, and general scary-ness
My rating: 8/10

Calico Joe by John Grisham
198 pages
published April, 2012

Synopsis from publisher:

In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen. The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records.

Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever…

My thoughts:

I would not classify myself as a baseball fan, but I am certainly a fan of this novel. I haven't read Grisham for a long time, but I think I'm going to have to start again if this is an indication of his recent work. Effective blending of past and present, strong narrative voice and compelling storyline - this was just a really good piece of fiction. I almost didn't read this one, but I'm sure glad I did. Definitely recommended.

Finished: 7/7/12
Source: review copy from publisher - thank you!
MPAA rating: PG-13 for language and violence
My rating: 8/10


bermudaonion said...

It looks like you've been doing some great reading! I really want to read Calico Joe!

Zibilee said...

I am really excited about the first two, and think that they would be great reads for me, but since I am not that into baseball, I think I will skip Calico Joe. It sounds like a lot of others will enjoy it though, and I liked getting your perspective on each of these. Great mini-reviews today, Elizabeth!