Book Review: The Lost Vintage, written by Ann Mah

Looking for a good book for your next beach vacation?

Ann Mah, food and travel writer has written a fiction novel, The Lost Vintage, © 2018 published by William Morrow, An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY.

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As a food and travel writer living in both Washington, D.C. and Paris, France, Mah’s knowledge of France and French wines lend credibility to her writing.

“Told with elegance and deep compassion, The Lost Vintage is an unforgettable tale about balancing the ideals of courage with the harsh realities of survival, sustaining love for family in the face of shattering disappointment, and reconciling the deeds of the past with the values of the present.” – from the book jacket, The Lost Vintage.

While this is a work of fiction, the story reflects on the harsh reality of survival in WWII in France during the Nazi occupation and one family’s discovery of their ancestor’s involvement in the resistance and collaboration with the Nazi’s.

The Lost Vintage – les gouttes d’or “Drops of Gold”

Kate, who has built a career as a sommelier in San Francisco is studying for the Master of Wine examination for the third and final attempt. If she wants to advance her career, she must pass the examination, but has carefully avoided Burgundy vintages – some of the best wines her family has been making for generations. She returns to France to help her cousin, Nico and his wife, Heather with the annual harvest and to brush up her knowledge of Burgundy wines. There, she and Heather stumbles upon a hidden cave underneath the estate while cleaning the basement. In the cave is a remarkable inventory of vintage wines dating back prior to the start of WWII. The wine is worth a fortune. But why has it been kept hidden? Who knows of its’ existence?

The Journals of Helene Marie Charpin

The author takes the reader back in time to Kate’s ancestors, particularly, Helene Marie Charpin who they do not want to believe was a collaborator with the Nazi’s. After all, no living relative will speak of Helene. What happened to Helene? Was she part of the resistance or a collaborator? Did she survive the war? Kate becomes consumed with finding out the truth about her ancestors. Yet the deadline for her to return to San Francisco to continue her studies for her final attempt to pass the Masters of Wine exam is fast approaching.

Not only does the author, Ann Mah take the reader on a fascinating journey in history, but weaves together hard truths about family, self and country. Readers who love history, mystery, love stories, and wine will want to read The Lost Vintage. It is a book the reader will not want to put down! Ann Mah is masterful in her telling the tale of Helene.

Five Hoot Rating!

The Lost Vintage, by author, Ann Mah receives a 5-Hoot Rating on a scale of 1 to 5.5 Hoot Rating

Happy Reading!

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(c) 2017-2019 All Rights Reserved

Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Looking for a book to read for your vacation at the beach?

Or perhaps a book to read for your next flight across country or abroad?

The woman in the windowThe Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, published by Harper Collins, New York, New York is a spellbinding novel that I was unable to put down from start to finish. Written in a diary-like format, the book takes you into the life of Anna Fox, a psychologist who is a recluse in her New York City home.

I’m not going to keep you in suspense, but this author will right to the very end.

A.J. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window earns a 5-HOOT rating from this reader.

Anna Fox is a psychologist who has  agoraphobia. She exists day by day peering through the windows of her home examining and often photographing the lives of her neighbors. When she’s not studying her neighbors, she binges on watching old movies, drinks too much red wine that she mixes with a small pharmacy prescribed by her therapist.

A new family, the Russells move in across the park. In addition, Anna takes in a somewhat mysterious tenant who resides in the bottom of her multi-level home. Together, these new inhabitants in her small world create a havoc for Anna, who believes something tragic has happened in the Russell home. Her agoraphobia complicates her discovering if what she thinks is real, her imagination or what others believe is just a case of paranoia brought on by her diet of wine and pills.

Author A.J. Finn is poetic in his weaving of his psychological thriller. The writing is beautiful and the tempo of building the suspense is spellbinding. What a grand debut novel. I cannot wait for his next book. Please, Mr. Finn don’t make your new fans wait too long.

Hoot Rating

Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Murder, Crime

On a scale of 1 to 5 HOOTS, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn earns a 5-HOOT hoot rating.

Happy Reading!

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The Blogging Owl

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot here at Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl.

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

I was looking for a new author to love (new meaning an author whose novels I had not yet read or a newly published author) when I came upon the novel, The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins.

the-life-we-bury-front.jpgThe Life We Bury back

 

Kudos, to Mr. Eskens for being a finalist and award winner for his debut novel, The Life We Bury. However, I have been duped before into investing my time and book budget by these types of accolades only to be disappointed in the reviews.

It’s always a gamble investigating a new author. Again, new being someone’s novel I have not read before or new to the book scene. In my humble reader’s opinion, there is no guarantee an established author will have a great new novel, and by the same token, a green author’s novel isn’t necessarily a work in process.

Side bar: The Life We Bury was published by Seventh Street Books in Amherst, New York; but whether the book is self-published or by a publishing house is irrelevant to me.

Ultimately, three things about this novel convinced me to invest in it. Firstly, the title, The Life We Bury intrigued me and it is what drew me into investigating further the purchase of this book.  Who doesn’t have a few secrets in their closet?

Secondly, the premise of a college student completing a writing assignment for an English class that sounded familiar to anyone who as ever taken an English course but never had a subject as interesting as Carl Iverson. Throw in a dysfunctional family and I wondered if the author could really pull off well developed characters without losing sight of the assignment.

And lastly, I told myself I should at least give this new author an opportunity to convince me that all the accolades were worthy indeed. As a criminal defense attorney, Mr. Eskens is no doubt adept at presenting cases and leading juries to his desired conclusion. Yet many juries have been overwhelmed with too many details, and could the author write this story as thrilling and suspenseful as quoted on the back cover of the book without putting me to sleep?

Not only were the accolades accurate, Mr. Eskens has a captivating writing style and well developed characters. I felt I was there within the story. I also enjoyed the short chapters which I felt kept with the suspense of the story moving it to a thrilling ending.

The Life We Bury is a debut winner! So much so I went out and simultaneously purchased his second novel, The Guise of Another, and his latest novel, The Heavens May Fall.  

Did I find a new author to love?  Stay tuned for my reviews of Mr. Esken’s follow up novels on The Blogging Owl.

Hoot Rating:

Genre: Mystery, Crime

On a scale of 1 to 5 Hoots, the novel, The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens earned 4 hoots.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale - 4 hoots