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Review: The United States of Beer

July 26, 2016

The United States of Beer

Americans have loved beer from the very beginning.  As a matter of fact, “a brewhouse was among the Pilgrims’ very first projects.”  Beer has taken quite a journey since then, from local breweries, to Prohibition, to large, national breweries, and finally to a resurgence of local brewers creating craft beers.

Dane Huckelbridge traces the history of the “all-American drink” in The United States of Beer.  He divides the country into regions and delves into each region separately in this well researched book.  Beers in each region were influenced by the people who settled there as well as the ingredients that were available to them, giving them distinctive styles and flavors.  Breweries thrived until Prohibition, which only a handful managed to survive.  The shortages of World War II caused those breweries to look for alternatives to the necessary ingredients and they turned to things like rice and corn, creating adjunct lagers which took over the beer market for years.  Thankfully, pioneers like Fritz Maytag and Ken Grossman took a chance and started the first craft breweries, and the industry hasn’t looked back since.

I’m not sure The United States of Beer will have broad appeal but, since my family is in the beer business, I found it thoroughly fascinating, even though I already knew the basic history of beer in the US.  Huckelbridge dug deep and shares a detailed history, starting in Europe.  I never realized beer was so important in the history of this country.  There are great illustrations throughout the book as well as a bibliography and index in the back.  If you or someone you know enjoys history and/or beer, you’ll want to pick this book up!

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

July 25, 2016

Mailbox Monday July 25

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   Another week has flown by and, to be honest, as I sit and type this, I’m not even sure what I did except try to stay cool – it’s still hot as blazes here.  I found these goodies in my mailbox:






What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: The Circus Goes to Sea

July 22, 2016

The Circus Goes to Sea

When Sir Sidney’s Circus is invited to go to sea aboard the SS Spaghetti, they decide to accept.  When they arrive, they learn the whole crew of entertainers has been fired.  When Captain LaPasta finds out what’s happened she’s upset and apologizes to her passengers.  The circus comes to her rescue and soon everyone declares it the best cruise ever!

The Circus Goes to Sea is the third book in the Three-Ring Rascals series by Kate Klise and it is just delightful!  The circus performers are up for a new adventure aboard ship and are excited to go on a cruise.  Unfortunately Sir Sidney gets seasick and has to spend most of the cruise in his cabin.  Not to worry, though – the rest of the performers work together and come up with ways to entertain the guests and save the cruise!

The Circus Goes to Seaf interior

I thought this book was so much fun!  I love the way the performers chip in to help and appreciate each other’s contributions.  The book is just silly enough to capture early readers’ attention and M. Sarah Klise‘s illustrations do a lot to enhance the story.  Each book in the Three-Ring Rascals series stands alone but once you read one, you’ll want to read them all.  Pick up The Circus Goes to Sea for the early readers in your life!

Ikid konnection new will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

I won this book from Algonquin Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Review: Into the Wild

July 21, 2016

Into the Wild

Chris McCandless grew up in a fairly comfortable home and graduated from Emory University with honors in 1990.  Idealistic and frustrated with society, McCandless cut ties with his family, gave away all of his money, and headed to Alaska to live off the land.  He felt well prepared even though he took few provisions as he walked into the Alaskan wilderness.  Almost four months later, he was found dead in an abandoned bus.

Jon Krakauer retraces McCandless’s steps in the book Into Thin Air.  As usual, I found Krakauer’s research to be extensive and his writing to be engaging.  I liked this book a great deal but don’t think I liked it as much as I have Krakauer’s other books.  I think it may have been the subject matter or maybe it was the fact that, even though Krakauer explored it, I just couldn’t understand McCandless’s motivation.  Still, I found McCandless to be interesting and I thought the book was well worth reading.

Philip Franklin does a terrific job narrating the audio version of Into Thin Air.  I think his narration is well suited for non-fiction books.

I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


Wondrous Words Wednesday

July 20, 2016

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found one word in Animal Planet Farm Animals by Laaren Brown.

1. ruminant – “Goats, like cows, are ruminants.”

An animal that has more than one stomach and that swallows food and then brings it back up again to continue chewing it.


My next word came from The United States of Beer by Dane Huckelbridge.

2. coelacanth – “A few ale brewers would survive the wartime and postwar industry cull — Newark’s famous Ballantine Ale, established way back in 1840, is one such malty coelacanth.”

A coelacanth is a rare order of fish that’s considered a “living fossil” because it has no close relatives still living, so Huckelbridge was using the word as a figure of speech.



What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: The Sound of Gravel

July 19, 2016

The Sound of Gravel

I am my mother’s fourth child and my father’s thirty-ninth

Thus begins The Sound of Gravel, Ruth Wariner‘s memoir of growing up in Colonia LeBaron, a Mexican town populated by members of the polygamist Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Time. A church founded by her grandfather and later headed by her own father who was killed when Wariner was just three months old.   Wariner’s mother remarried when she was three years old and their family continued to grow.  Wariner’s stepfather wasn’t around that much – he worked odd jobs in the US and had multiple families to visit – and her mother struggled to take care of her family.

Wariner and her mother and siblings returned to the US on a regular basis to collect welfare and visit family and, as Wariner got older, she came to realize not everyone lived the way they did and she began to question her family’s beliefs but didn’t know how to make a better life for herself and her siblings.

I’m not sure why but I’m fascinated with polygamist sects the way some people are with British royalty.  I love memoirs as well, so I thought The Sound of Gravel would be the perfect book for me and, boy, was I right!   I found this book to be tragic and heartbreaking yet I couldn’t put it down.  Things were tough for Wariner growing up but she was scrappy and resilient.  Her childhood was so harrowing, I found myself reading the book with a sense of dread but I had to know how things turned out so I turned the pages as fast as I could.

The Sound of Gravel is the well written account of what it’s like to be a female in a polygamist sect.  Told from the point of view of a young girl, it’s difficult to read at times but it’s ultimately inspiring.  Pick this one up if you enjoy memoirs.

My friend Julie sent me this book.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

July 18, 2016

Mailbox Monday July 18

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.     Another week has flown by and it’s been hotter than heck here.  To make matters worse, we’re not getting any rain.  It doesn’t look like we’re going to get any relief any time soon either.  I found these goodies in my mailbox last week:






What did you find in your mailbox last week?


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