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Book reviews: 'Over the Pond', 'Forget Nice', and 1963 Was A Hell Of A Year'

LYSA ALLMAN-BALDWIN | 6/21/2013, 4:17 p.m.
Book reviews: 'Over the Pond', 'Forget Nice', and 1963 Was A Hell Of A Year'

The book is available at http://naughtygirlsguide.net.

A Melding of ancient, classic and modern

Whew! After all of the naughty LA stuff, I need a drink! But not a stiff one to knock me back into reality, rather something smooth and reassuring to take me away to a far off land-in this case, "The Wine Region of Rioja."

Situated between Castilla La Mancha to the south, Castilla Leon to the west, Aragon to the east and Navarra and the Pais Vasco to the north in northern Spain, La Rioja is both a province and an autonomous region. Its excellent wines are known the world over.

The book--written by Ana Fabiano, who for two decades has led tours consisting of wine industry journalists and experts through Rioja and dedicated her professional life and vast research to the wine and food industry of Spain--is drop-dead gorgeous. From the spectacular photography to the meticulous yet obviously heart-felt descriptions of the magic of the La Rioja region, the various wine varietals, the bodegas (Spanish for grocery store, but more like a local mini-mart offering the highest quality meats, cheeses, wines and other culinary accouterment) and more, this is a must-read for wine lovers as well as those desiring a soulful Spanish travel experience. (If you are a staunch oenophile, you will probably appreciate the fact that it is the only wine book endorsed by the Riojan government.)

And it's not just about Fabiano's words; rather she shares from the great deal of research she put into reading Castilian books, conducting interviews with local experts and speaking with generations of winemakers. Moreover, completely appealing to gastronomic enthusiasts like me, the author has included several delicious recipes and the perfect wine pairings.

The book is available on Amazon.com.

1963 WAS A HELL

OF A YEAR

Considered by many as one of the most exciting destinations in the Caribbean, the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is brimming with culture--three distinct ones in fact: French, Dutch and what has been described as the "blending of both with exotic native heritage"--all on one 37-square-mile island.

In the book "1963: A Landmark Year in St. Martin," author Daniella Jeffry Pilot, a St. Martin native, offers a retrospective look at the island and its growth since 1963--the year she says her home country began to transition from an agricultural, rural economy to a commercial, tourist-oriented economy.

Part travel book, part historical reference, "1963" talks about the native islanders who moved to other neighboring islands but later returned to their homeland to establish themselves and foster in a new era of prosperity and pride in their island home. Pilot says, "The festive, gentle way of life of the natives harmoniously blended with the burgeoning new economy and greatly contributed to the success of the tourism industry."

In the end, readers will come away with a unique perspective of the island's history, which they can meld with today's reputation of this Caribbean gem nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea as one of the most beautiful, natural paradises.

The book is available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at lallmanbaldwin@kc.rr.com.