Apologies and Back At It – A Note (and Review!) from Christina

Apologies and Back At It – A Note (and Review!) from ChristinaThe Chardonnay Charade by Ellen Crosby
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2008-07-29
Genres: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
"The Chardonnay Charade" begins with a daring helicopter flight in the middle of the night. Facing a freak spring frost that threatens to kill the grapes in her vineyard, Lucie Montgomery hires a chopper to fly over the vines in order to blow warm air on them. But her thoughts soon turn from grapes to murder when she discovers the body of Georgia Greenwood, a controversial political candidate, lying near the fields. Georgia's husband, Ross, Lucie's friend and doctor, immediately falls under suspicion. To make matters worse, Ross, a renowned collector of Civil War documents, has just discovered a letter that seems to prove that Confederate president Jefferson Davis had prior knowledge of the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. In the small town of Atoka, Virginia -- proud home to the "Gray Ghost," the Confederacy's legendary guerrilla commander -- the letter is a bombshell.Three years ago Ross saved Lucie's life after she was involved in a near-fatal car crash. Now she intends to return the favor and prove Ross's innocence. As the search for Georgia's killer escalates, Lucie crosses swords with her attractive but cantankerous winemaker, Quinn Santori, and confronts her own unwelcome feelings of jealousy over his new romance and job prospects. Her worries about her kid sister's out-of-control drinking and a second vineyard-related death further ratchet up the tension. Even though Lucie believes that in vino veritas -- in wine there is truth -- she finds that the path to uncovering a murderer involves making a heartbreaking decision that will alter the lives of those she loves.

I had fallen off of the grid for the past month and am ready to get back on my reading, research and blogging A-game. I am sorry to have been so M.I.A – Recently, I started working in the Northern Neck of Virginia and picked up and moved from northern Virginia. I LOVE my new job, I LOVE the area, I LOVE the history. It has been a wonderful experience! During the moving process, I still found time to read…

The Chardonnay Charade by Ellen Crosby

We read The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby, book one of her Virginia “Wine Country Mysteries” series, and the book had overwhelming praise from our book club. A couple of years into the club, Michelle selected book two of her series so we can revisit the wine, the history, and the murder mysteries set in Loudon County. The main characters from The Merlot Murders, Lucie and Quinn, were also the main characters in The Chardonnay Charade.  A little overwhelming that murder seems to follow this couple, but it made character introductions shorter and the characters easy to attach to.

I particularly liked The Chardonnay Charade because: 1) It had more great wine knowledge. The spring frost and the process to keep the fruit from freezing in the cold was intriguing to me. 2) The history in this book was fascinating and right down my alley. There was a mix of Civil War and early American history. I geeked out when I was reading about a piece of furniture in an antique store they said once belonged to Francis Lightfoot Lee… I just started working at his home, Menokin, in the Northern Neck. The additions of the history made me attach myself to the book and kept me engaged.

Overall, another enjoyable read by Crosby… great for book clubs! Paired with a nice Virginia chardonnay, such as the 2013 Reserve from Paradise Springs, and you will be set!

Currently reading…

I currently have a list of books on my to-read shelf, which has grown tremendously since my last blog post. I am now finishing up The Lees of Menokin by Suzanne Semsch and am then turning to The First Emancipator, a story on Robert Carter of Virginia by Andrew Levy. Following these books, I also have: The Lees of Virginia by Paul C. Nagel, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, A Tale of Two Plantations by Richard S. Dunn, and a few others. I expect I will be busy these next couple of months playing catch up! Stay tuned for future posts from me, not only on the books, but also on the history of the Northern Neck and historical sites paired together with some of these historical fictions and non-fictions.

Happy readings!

pj - christina

Christina’s Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Christina’s Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieHow To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2010-08-24
Genres: Business & Economics, Communication & Social Skills, General, Interpersonal Relations, Leadership, Psychology, Self-Help
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
You can go after the job you want...and get it! You can take the job you have...and improve it! You can take any situation you're in...and make it work for you!Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. As relevant as ever before, Dale Carnegie’s principles endure, and will help you achieve your maximum potential in the complex and competitive modern age. Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.

I highly recommend this book for anyone in the corporate world, nonprofit world, in a leadership position… basically anyone in the work force. It was that good.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is an old book that has been in publication for over 75 years. The concepts in the book are still relevant, and I found it easy to relate to the examples Dale Carnegie presented throughout. At the beginning of the book, Carnegie goes through his personal recommendations of how to read the book. One thing I found particularly helpful for myself was to keep a pen and paper handy. My copy of the book is filled with post-it notes of comments and suggestions to myself on how I can effectively utilize the concepts discussed to grow in the workplace and outside. Carnegie organized the book in four parts: techniques in handling people; how to make people like you; how to influence these people towards your thoughts; and effective leadership. Each section had short, easy-to-follow chapters with clear examples to help cover each point made. Some of these examples contained recognizable leaders through history, other examples were taken from ordinary individuals who have utilized his best practices and succeeded. Majority, if not all, of these examples he used still hold relevance today.

Being a history-lover, the examples highlighting leaders in history included brief history lessons that really kept my attention. Towards the beginning especially, Carnegie heavily favored leaders like Abraham Lincoln, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab and Theodore Roosevelt (to name a few). These references to people who I knew kept the book all the more interesting as Carnegie discussed their character and dilemmas they had to face and the decisions that chose to make.

One of the large take-aways I got from the book was to be genuine and sincere. Really care about a person, and do not forget to use praise. This will get you further in life. In addition to this, I took a sentence from the book I now have posted up next to my desk: “get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle.” (35) This book has changed my way of thinking already, and I hope to continue to utilize the concepts presented by Carnegie to grow as a person and leader.

I received this book from my boss for the holidays. She gave each of us a book, and I am so glad she did. I intend to keep this book close by my desk at all times so I can go back and reference whenever needed. I even bought a second copy of this book to give as a gift to a friend already. I very much enjoyed the read and highly recommend it for others who are looking to grow and be successful (not just in the workplace, but in general).

pj - christina

Michelle’s Review: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit by Octavia Spencer

I received this book for free from BEA 2013 in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Michelle’s Review: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit by Octavia SpencerThe Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit by Octavia Spencer
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2013-10-15
Genres: Action & Adventure, Childrens, Friendship, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Social Issues
Pages: 214
Format: ARC
Source: BEA 2013
Meet Randi Rhodes, the world’s first ninja detective! Mystery abounds in this delightful new middle grade series from Academy Award–winning actress Octavia Spencer.Deer Creek is a small town whose only hope for survival is the success of their Founder’s Day Festival. But the festival’s main attraction, a time capsule that many people believe hold the town’s treasure, has gone missing. Randi Rhodes and her best friend, D.C., are Bruce Lee–inspired ninjas and local detectives determined to solve the case. Even if it means investigating in a haunted cabin and facing mean old Angus McCarthy, prime suspect. They have three days to find the treasure…the future of their whole town is at stake! Will these kids be able to save the day?

When Octavia Spencer spoke during the BookExpo America Children’s Author Breakfast, she introduced us to her new book as one where she strived for diverse characters. Given the latest push for diverse books, I would definitely place this book on a list of those that feature diverse characters. With a red-haired heroine with a single parent, (an Hispanic?) side-kick with hearing aids, an Asian housekeeper/nanny, a female sheriff, and an African American new friend, there is diversity everywhere.

Randi Rhodes is the Harriet the Spy of the latest generation. She is grappling with the loss of her mother and her family’s move to a sleepy mountain town. But there are mysteries everywhere and Randi embarks on one that allows her to make new friends and perhaps find her footing.

It’s an adorable book with a few pictures and creative activities for children to play along with. Depending on the age of the kid, I would venture to say that adult supervision should be required for all the tasks. I can only imagine the kinds of messes that could be made otherwise!

It’s a Scooby Doo type story. “If it weren’t for you meddlin’ kids…!” (Really, all Randi needs is a furry companion!) If that’s the type of story you (or really, your children) are looking for, this is definitely a good option.

pj - michelle