Tag Archives: Amy Stewart

Book Review: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart (3/5)

21 Jul

One of my librarian friends, in an effort to bring more writers to the library, book Amy Stewart for a virtual visit almost two years ago. Since then, I’ve tried twice in vain to read The Drunken Botanist as an ebook, both times finding the PDFs of the pages unreadable on my phone. Alas. But now there is Hoopla and a new crop of audiobooks for me to indulge in including The Drunken Botanist. I got right to it.

Stewart_DB_USA_POB_03_28_13.inddThe Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart

Summary from Goodreads:

Every great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when a Dutch physician added oil of juniper to a clear spirit, believing that juniper berries would cure kidney disorders. “The Drunken Botanist” uncovers the enlightening botanical history and the fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees, and fruits (and even one fungus).

Some of the most extraordinary and obscure plants have been fermented and distilled, and they each represent a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history. Molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence: when the British forced the colonies to buy British (not French) molasses for their New World rum-making, the settlers outrage kindled the American Revolution. Rye, which turns up in countless spirits, is vulnerable to ergot, which contains a precursor to LSD, and some historians have speculated that the Salem witch trials occurred because girls poisoned by ergot had seizures that made townspeople think they d been bewitched. Then there’s the tale of the thirty-year court battle that took place over the trademarking of Angostura bitters, which may or may not actually contain bark from the Angostura tree.

I think this was an odd choice to make an audiobook from. The book is non-fiction in a very ‘encyclopedia-esque’ style. Stewart has organized the book well, focusing on plants in different parts of the path from farm to drink and giving scientific names as well as some great recipes. Honestly, I wished I had this as a coffee table book instead of an audiobook. I’d love to go back to the recipes for a girl’s night and see the beautiful formatting that I saw when I flipped through the book at the library. It was very thorough and made me appreciate the process going into the drinks I have but I think it would have been better in small doses and might have earned a higher rating from me if I read it that way.

 

I thought the base plants part was most interesting. I loved hearing about how agave is made into tequila and how barley becomes beer. For me, this was most interesting. Hearing about the one or two distilleries who are using jasmine just made me realize I don’t care enough to buy super premium specialty liquor and I’d rather get back to what’s in Maker’s Mark and other things I might actually drink.

This book made me want to start a fruit garden for sure. I’m hoping that if I ever do get a house, I can grow some of my own fruit and maybe I’ll try the vodka infusions Stewart wrote about (those seem the easiest to make). I did feel a lot of the things she spoke about growing were very specialized and she even recognized that some are not easily grown outside of a very specific region and some required extensive care. Unfortunately, not the best for a busy working person also going to school in a Michigan apartment.

Amy Stewart Image via the author's website

Amy Stewart
Image via the author’s website

The cocktails made me want a drink each time I heard one. After craving ice cream during another book and craving a drink during this one, my books have been influencing my calorie counts a lot lately! I wonder how many of the recipes are available on the website and how many I’ll have to copy out of the book the next time I go to the library.

I’m not a gin drinker and it was obvious to me that Stewart loves a good gin. She’d probably tell me I’ve never had good gin. I found these parts a bit of a drag only because I cared a bit less. They were still well written and enjoyable for the small anecdotes Stewart added.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Coleen Marlo. I wasn’t a big fan of Marlo’s inflections, trying to add feeling to a nonfiction book in, what I felt were the wrong places. (Side note: do you say CASHew or caSHEW? This bothered me and I wonder if it’s regional.) Overall, she was fine but having met Stewart (kinda), I had her voice in my head and felt Marlo was a disappointment.

 

Writer’s Takeaway: I think this was more of a reference book and I liked that even though it was structured like that, it was able to be read as a narrative and there were enough stories about the history of the plants for it to stay interesting and relevant. Keeping things interesting is never bad and can make a dull format lively enough to be read aloud like a story. It was a good technique.

Enjoyable, but I think I would have liked it better in another format. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The Drunken Botanist Website
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart | Maria Legault
Review & Giveaway: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart | The Intoxicologist

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WWW Wednesday, 20-July-2016

20 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


10%Currently reading: It was a rough week at work and I didn’t get much of a chance to read. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. We were out-of-town for the weekend and I contemplated taking my eReader with me, but decided against it. Oh well, maybe next week?
I’m really loving The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. The writing is good and I love the evolution of Sarah (the main character) as she figures out her place in life. I hope this one has a happy ending because it seems it could go really really sad.
I was able to start a new audiobook and I picked 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I saw this one win the Goodreads award for nonfiction in 2014 and added it to my TBR then. I’ve been waiting for a chance to read it ever since and now seems like as good a time as any.

Stewart_DB_USA_POB_03_28_13.inddRecently finished: Though I liked it, I don’t recommend The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart as an audiobook. It was too easy to tune out and there’s no plot so it’s hard to become engrossed in it at all. For sure better as a coffee table book.

My review of In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches posted on Thursday. Not a surprise to many of you, but it was not a book for me at all. I explain why in my review but suffice it to say, I won’t be reading any more by this author.
I posted a semi-review of the Jim Kay illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. It was so fun to read alongside Kay’s illustrations. Let me know what you thought of it.

PeaceBreaksReading Next: My plan is still for Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles. I might just pick it up from the library so I’m forced to get to it before another book club selection pops up. It might tempt me to read fast so I can start it! I’ll see about the movie of A Separate Peace as well now that I know there is one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 13-July-2016

13 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


WingsCurrently reading: I started keeping my ereader at the kitchen table to read a bit of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson during breakfast. I got to read a bit during lunch at work a few days, too. I’m making a bit of progress and still enjoying this one.
While The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart is really interesting, it’s not my favorite audiobook. I talked with a friend of mine on Goodreads about it and he’s reading it like a coffee table book, a bit at a time. I think I’d prefer reading it that way because it’s a lot of information all at once and I wish I could go back and reference some of those cocktail recipes!
I was able to pick up The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd recently. Anything is better than my last physical book but I’m still deciding how I feel about this one. Stay tuned!

DanteRecently finished: I crawled my way through In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches and I’m so glad it’s over. I did not like this book much at all. The modern setting was interesting, but the historical settings of Dante were so dense and hard to read that I struggled with it a lot. I don’t plan to read anything by this author again.

I got my review for Truth & Beauty posted on Monday. It was a really pretty book that I enjoyed. However, reading some of the Grealy family’s reactions to the book are giving me second thoughts. Please check out my review and if you have time to read some of the links at the end, let me know how you feel about them!

PeaceBreaksReading Next: For a physical book, I’d like to finally pick up a copy of Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles. I found out about this sequel when I first started with Goodreads and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since. I was a big fan of A Separate Peace in high school and would love to read more from the author.
For an audiobook, I’ll see about snatching up 10% Happier by Dan Harris. This was a Goodreads Award winner in 2014 that intrigued me and I’ve wanted to read Harris’ advice ever since.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 6-July-2016

6 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Stewart_DB_USA_POB_03_28_13.inddCurrently reading: I used my new eReader and got through a chapter or two of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. It helps that I’m struggling with my current book a lot and needed something to break the monotony so I gave this title a little more attention than I would have otherwise. I’m about 1/3 of the way done with it.
Though there’s more of a plot of In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches, there are still annoyingly long chapters about a religious theory that I hope will tie into the plot, but I’m not sure how. I’m getting tired of it and I really do not like this book. I’ll push through to the end because the modern plot line is interesting, but expect a low rating of this one!
My newest audiobook is The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. Steward did a virtual talk at my library over a year ago and I’ve been looking for a way to read her book since then. The ebook was a pain because the pages were PDFs and they didn’t come out well on my phone, so audiobook it is!

TruthBeautyRecently finished: I finished Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett over the weekend and really loved it. My review will be up next week but I have to say I’m not tempted to read some other Patchett novels and Lucy Grealy’s books because I feel like I’d have a deeper insight to all of them having read this book. I recommend this one to anyone who loves a good memoir.

No reviews this week because I’ve only finished this one book and took Monday ‘off’ from blogging to celebrate the 4th of July. Stay tuned for next week!

WingsReading Next: The plan is still The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I should be picking it up soon and it will be a welcome read after I finish Tosches. I hope it’s like being held by my mom after a bad swim meet. Fingers crossed.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!