Read With sharon

Welcome to my Book and Wine Club

January 2020 marked the launch of my new book and wine club! I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have realized that although there are many avenues in which to find good book recommendations, there are very few that are 100% honest.

I have been disappointed when I’ve been recommended a book that is a laborious read, or has a saggy middle or even has a TADAH! ending that isn’t a surprise at all.

That’s why I will PRE-READ all of our recommendations and will not recommend a book to you if we’re not all certain that it will delight you. I know your time is precious; I want you to spend it reading quality that you will be happy to recommend to others.

Each book and wine club meeting will have a unique selection of wines that I have personally identified to go along with the discussion!

June 2021

The Nature of Fragile Things

“It is the nature of the earth to shift. It is the nature of fragile things to break. It is the nature of fire to burn.”

This compelling story will instantly draw you in – I started it on a Saturday and was finished by Sunday afternoon! It’s a story of life’s choices, the resilience of women, the beauty of friendship, and women empowerment. 

The novel is riveting, and I can’t wait to discuss it with you!

I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting

Previous Selections

May 2021

West with Giraffes By Lynda Rutledge

“Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it’s too late.”

During the summer months, I always try to pick a light beach read. I came across West with Giraffes which released just a week before Masque of Honor. Bookstagrammers were giving it great reviews and many were drawn to the captivating, adventurous story just as I was.

The novel is riveting, and I can’t wait to discuss it with you!

I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

April 2021

Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

During a recent interview with Carol Fitzgerald from Bookreporter.com, I learned about Yellow Wife and found the story very intriguing. Bookstagrammers were giving great reviews and when I read the first few chapters, I was hooked on this deep dive into history.

In Yellow Wife, author Sadeqa Johnson writes the harrowing story of an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life.

Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.

I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

March 2021

The Four Winds By Kristin Hannah

“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Kristin Hannah’s latest novel is a gripping portrait of the Great Depression and the tenacity, courage, and self-reliance of the Greatest Generation – and the characters in The Four Winds show how hope, idealism, and commitment to one another can carry us through the darkest of times.

The protagonist, Elsa Martinelli, must choose between staying with those she loves and the dying land that is home, or head west with nothing but a will to survive and a hope for a better life for her children.

It is a tale of heartbreak, tenacity, love, and courage.

“Be brave.” The words of her grandfather give her the strength to persevere during the most devastating crisis the country had ever endured.

And in the end, teaches her children the greatest lesson in life: to love and to be courageous.

I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

February 2021

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE By V.E. Schwab

“A Life No One Will Remember.
A Story You Will Never Forget.”

Her name may be doomed to be forgotten in this work of fiction – but you will definitely not forget the story of our February Book Club pick: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.

This instant best-seller is a page-turner that takes you along with the adventures of a young woman who has made a deal with the devil to live forever, but never remembered.

I could not put this book down – I had to know how Addie wiggled her way out of the mess she and Henry were in, if she ever finds a way to outsmart Luc, and how it all ends! It made me wonder: have I made deals in my lifetime that I might yet have to pay penance for?

Addie’s invisible life plays out across continents, centuries, historical events and art. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did!

I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

January 2021

The Night Watchman By Louise Erdrich

Happy New Year!

The holidays may be over (goodbye, 2020!) but I hope you can join me by taking some time to sit back, enjoy your favorite beverage, and read what so many reviewers have declared the “Best Book of 2020” – The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.

Erdrich based the story on the extraordinary life of her grandfather, who worked as a night watchman and activist against Native dispossession. She weaves a tale that illuminates
the loves and lives of memorable characters who are “forced to grapple with the worst and best impulses of human nature.”

From the publisher: “…this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.”

I fell in love with these dynamic characters and settings while gaining insight into Native
American culture and history – I hope you do as well. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

December 2020

THE BOOK OF LONGINGS BY SUE MONK KIDD

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year …” – and what a year it has been! But December is a time for traditions, making new memories, and celebrating the season with decorations, festive food and spreading joy and cheer.

I love to cozy up in a comfortable spot and read a good book during the holidays. And this year, I’m enjoying The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd.

It’s the story of Ana – a rebellious, intelligent and courageous woman living in the 1st century – who becomes the wife of Jesus. Sue Monk Kidd imagines the life they would live together as a young married couple in a time when the poor and infirmed were oppressed and women were silenced.

Ana’s voice refuses to be quelled – her passionate words of longing and the stories she shares on the shards of clay pottery and papyrus reverberate through the centuries.

We will have a ZOOM discussion of the book at the end of the month and I would Love for you to join us. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

November 2020

HAMNET BY MAGGIE O’FARRELL

This month has me feeling so many thoughts of gratitude as I find myself reflecting on what is really important to me – being with the ones we love (even if it’s in a virtual way) and appreciating all that we have.

My love for Shakespeare and the richness of storytelling in this month’s book club choice are why I’ve chosen the winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell.

You don’t have to be a huge fan of William Shakespeare (like I am!) to relate to his personal story. Hamnet (an interchangeable styling of Hamlet) is the reimagined tale of Shakespeare’s young son, who died in 1596, at the age of 11. The now famous play, Hamlet, was written around four years later. The book provides a portrait of marriage and life in medieval times – which feels achingly familiar even today.

We will have a ZOOM discussion of the book at the end of the month and I would Love for you to join us. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

October 2020

MEXICAN GOTHIC BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

The nights are getting longer, and autumn has begun here in Virginia. With Halloween just around the corner, I’m looking forward to sweet treats, comfort food, and haunting stories that make us fear bumps in the night!

Ok, maybe not really wanting to hear bumps in the night – but cozying up with a good horror story feels like the perfect way to enjoy some reading this October. That’s why I’ve chosen the highly anticipated book of 2020, Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

The story takes place in 1950’s Mexico. Noemí Taboada finds herself out of her element – from frivolous cocktail parties to suffering in the silent, dark and moldering homestead where her beloved cousin has been forced to convalesce from a mysterious illness. The horror of the true situation makes for an intense, page-turning story you won’t want to miss.

We will have a ZOOM discussion of the book at the end of the month and I would Love for you to join us. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

September 2020

THE VANISHING HALF BY BRIT BENNETT

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up
together in a small, southern black community and running away at
age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different
as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial
identities.

Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same
southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes
for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still,
even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of
the twins remain intertwined.

We will have a ZOOM discussion of the book at the end of the month and I would Love for you to join us. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

August 2020

THE GUEST LIST BY LUCY FOLEY

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed. And then someone turns up dead. Why?

We will have a ZOOM discussion of the book at the end of the month and I would Love for you to join us. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

July 2020

THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST BY CHANEL CLEETON

The Florida Keys were ground zero for the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, a devastating Category 5 storm — in fact, the strongest recorded hurricane to hit the United States. The novel’s imminent danger, its ticking clock, is the hurricane, but the three main characters and their complicated relationships really deliver the tension. Shy but resilient Helen Berner is nine months pregnant and in an abusive marriage. As both the storm and the baby approach, she has a choice to make about her nine-year marriage. 

We will have a ZOOM discussion of the book at the end of the month and I would Love for you to join us. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and register for our ZOOM book club meeting!

May 2020

THE QUEEN OF PARIS BY PAMELA BINNINGS EWEN

Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel is revered for her sophisticated style–the iconic little black dress–and famed for her intoxicating perfume Chanel No. 5. Yet behind the public persona is a complicated woman of intrigue, shadowed by mysterious rumors. The Queen of Paris, the new novel from award-winning author Pamela Binnings Ewen, vividly imagines the hidden life of Chanel during the four years of Nazi occupation in Paris in the midst of WWII–as discovered in recently unearthed wartime files.

We will have a discussion of the book on May 30th at 1:00 pm. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and submit questions for our discussion!

April 2020

BIG LIES IN A SMALL TOWN BY DIANE CHAMBERLAIN

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small-town secrets.

We will have a discussion of the book on April 25th at 1:00 pm. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and submit questions for our discussion!

March 2020 
The The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future.

We will have a live discussion of the book on March 29th at 1:00 pm. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and submit questions for our discussion!

February 2020 
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window is a psychological thriller reminiscent of the best of Hitchcockian thrillers. The story is about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house. It is a powerful story full of twists and turns, reminding you that things are not always as they appear!

We will have a live discussion of the book on February 29th at 1:00 pm. I encourage you to click here to read reviews, buy your own copy, and submit questions for our discussion!

January 2020 
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

I have some very exciting news! January 2020 marks the launch of my new book club! I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have realized that although there are many avenues in which to find good book recommendations, there are very few that are 100% honest.

I have been disappointed when I’ve been recommended a book that is a laborious read, or has a saggy middle or even has a TADAH! ending that isn’t a surprise at all.

That’s why my book club and I will PRE-READ all of our recommendations and will not recommend a book to you if we’re not all certain that it will delight you. I know your time is precious; I want you to spend it reading quality that you will be happy to recommend to others. 

Our first book is The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. We will have a live discussion of the book on January 25th at 1:00 pm. I encourage you to click here to read my review, buy your own copy, and submit questions for our discussion!

The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories – Arthur Conan Doyle

Snuggle up by the fire, light a candle, grab a blanket and get ready to get spooky. During the 19th century, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for precisely that reason: snuggling by the fire. This is a collection of those tales.

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook. 

No Stopping Us Now – Gail Collins

This is a bit of a departure from my usual historical fiction recommendations, but it’s a really great trip through time with a very entertaining tour guide.

Trace the journey (and adventures) of older women in the United States through the decades, and learn quite a bit along the way. A worthy read on a cold Fall evening.

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook. 

Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

A fascinating tale by the author of A Handmaid’s Tale, this takes place not in the imagined future, but in 1843. Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders. If you’re a fan of mystery, this intriguing novel is a great read, and incidentally, a great Netflix production, though I have to admit that I liked the ending in the book much better than in the series. Incidentally this book relates to the current untitled project I’m working on, when I’m not dissecting Masque of Honor!

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook. 

Annelies – David R. Gillham

Want to take a break from 2019 for a bit? This entrancing novel answers the hypothetical question: What if Anne Frank had survived the Holocaust? You won’t be able to put this one down. The layers of the story are as haunting as the real life story of Anne Frank continues to be.

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook. 

Porgy – DuBose Heyward

The story of Porgy, Bess, Black Maria, Sportin’ Life, and the other citizens of Catfish Row inspired the George Gershwin musical “Porgy and Bess” and tells the story of Porgy, who disabled and unwanted, lives a life he has learned to endure, until he meets and falls for Bess during one long hot Charleston summer.

Published in 1925, it includes an afterword by James M. Hutchisson, the author’s biographer, who places Porgy in its social and historical context and shows how the novel revolutionized American literature by depicting black characters with empathy and emotional complexity. Interestingly, DuBose Heyward had no literary training, and he wrote Porgy while working as an insurance agent.

The book was later successfully dramatized for the New York stage. The production revolutionized the black theater movement with its casting of black actors.

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook. 

The Ax – Donald E. Westlake

What pushes a man so far out of his rational mind that a middle-aged manager at a paper company can morph into a cold-blooded killer? How fine is the line between a functional respected member of society and a community’s worst nightmare? Told in first person, the lack of irony in the protagonist’s voice is what makes this suspense thriller so unnerving and in its feel, a close cousin to Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook. 

Unsheltered – Barbara Kingsolver

Willa Knox, a woman in the crossroads of her life as a mother and a professional, shares the dilapidated New Jersey home she inherited with her ailing Greek father-in-law and her two grown children. In an effort to hold on to her sanity and her home, she begins to investigate the home’s history, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and help with its repairs. This journey leads to the discovery of a kindred spirit from the 1880s, and shows us the parallel lives of two families who struggle to navigate the challenges of a world in the throes of major cultural upheaval.

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare

Always a classic I return to, (that stands the scrutiny of reading and rereading over and over again), this comedy by William Shakespeare, portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set.

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook.

Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain is an epic love story set against the backdrop of the Civil War. It is one man’s odessey as he struggles with the ravages of war and his desire to return home to the woman he loves. After being injured in Petersburg, Virginia and becoming disillusioned with the war, the Confederate soldier Inman decides to walk back to Cold Mountain in the Blue Ridge where he hopes to find his beloved Ada. As the end of the war nears, their lives finally converge, and they must now face the new world together. The story is rich in characters that intertwine with both Inman and Ada as they struggle to survive alone and then together during the Civil War. It is ambitiously written invoking beautiful landscapes and insights into the human soul. While this story is set in the Civil War, it resonates with another epic love story set in a different time – A Farewell to Arms.

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Once again this American classic never disappoints. Huck Finn is perhaps Mark Twain’s most famous (if not most controversial) book as he takes on the social issues of slavery and racism through his brash satirical style. The story is told in the first person by Huck as he attempts to help a former slave escape up the Mississippi river to free states.

The book begins as Huck was taken in by the Widow Douglas who attempted to educate him and teach him manners. When his drunken and abusive father returns to town he kidnaps Huck and takes him to a small shack along the river. Huck manages to escape and eventually run’s into Jim, the Widow’s former slave who has also escaped.

The story is full of colorful descriptions of people and places along the Mississippi river using the vernacular of the time by an uneducated 13 year old boy. As the two navigate through their many adventures, Huck is faced with the moral dilemma of the right and wrong and the prejudice he grew up with. Ultimately this is a book of friendship, acceptance, and hope.

Let me know what you think! Comment on Facebook.