Oenophiles and vintners alike will find provocations, lessons, and pleasures in these smartly opinionated pages.

THE GOODE GUIDE TO WINE

A MANIFESTO OF SORTS

British wine journalist Goode stakes out a case for making and drinking the best wine possible, which needn’t mean expensive.

“Where should wine be heading?” So asks the author, a longtime columnist for the Sunday Express with a doctorate in plant biology and an artistic bent. He’s been at it for years, but he still remembers the cheap plonk of student days—and of working people such as the Portuguese farmhands who took slugs of it to slake their thirst while working. “These wines are just wine,” he writes, “and there’s an honesty to them.” Alas, these inexpensive and unpretentious “just wines” are disappearing since everyone now lives in trendy cities, and, as he puts it, “we want wine to taste nice.” Nice means expensive, more expensive, at any rate, than cheap wine. The meaning of the “manifesto” of Goode’s subtitle unfolds as his mostly genial, mostly short essays proceed: Growers should grow grapes that belong to a particular climate and soil—thus the much vaunted “terroir” that sophisticates speak of in hushed tones—without futzing about too much. Consumers should take the time to learn about wine on their own, without relying on tasting notes (“Tasting notes are horrible and I hate them”) and by engaging all their senses save the ability to use language: Experience the wine, he counsels, before attempting to put that experience in words. Wine depends on microbes, dirt, and knowledgeable growers and drinkers, so the more one knows about it, the more likely one is to make the right choice for the mood or one’s company or accompanying meal. The payoffs are abundant, Goode notes in the middle of a manifesto that’s more encouragement than exhortation, for, as he happily notes, “there’s never been a better time to be a wine drinker.”

Oenophiles and vintners alike will find provocations, lessons, and pleasures in these smartly opinionated pages.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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