It's lovely to pick up a book with great expectation, and, within the first few pages, sigh with contentment. It was lovely to be immersed in severalIt's lovely to pick up a book with great expectation, and, within the first few pages, sigh with contentment. It was lovely to be immersed in several of my favorite things: books, friendship, love, and the French country-side. As none of those things ever flow 100% smoothly, it's only natural that my level of contentment varied at points in the book.
It's been a few days since I finished The Little Paris Bookshop and when I sat down to write my impressions, the first thing that came to mind was one of the characters talking about how best to arrange your bookshelves: not by color or title, but by subject, so that Hemingway's Old Man and the... was with other books about the sea. That notion delighted me and imagined putting my own bookshelf together so that novels and nonfiction nestled together by subject. I quite liked the thought that Chocolat could nestle next to Julia Child.
There are other delightful moments in this book. And some completely mournful, with a French soul. Overall, though, the moments blend together into a well-told tale of love, longing, forgiving, and ultimately, moving on in life.Jean Perdu sells books from La Pharmacie Litteraire (The Literary Apothecary), his barge on the Siene. He begins a journey on the river to help resolve something that has kept his life from moving forward for the past twenty years. The journey, like the novel, is languid at times, tumultuous at others. One of my favorite quotes is “Books are like people, and people are like books, I’ll tell you how I go about it. I ask myself: Is he or she the main character in his or her life? What is her motive? Or is she a secondary character in her own tale? Is she in the process of editing herself out of her story because her husband, her career, her children or her job are consuming her entire text?”. Along with my imaginary rearrangement of my bookshelf, I say now try to place people as characters in the book of their life.
And the idea of secret tango milongas? Makes me want to learn to dance the tango and go travelling again....more
I'd not read this author before, so was quite pleased with myself when I figured out well before it was obvious that the setting was Australia. The prI'd not read this author before, so was quite pleased with myself when I figured out well before it was obvious that the setting was Australia. The premise was interesting -- a woman who is a hypnotherapist is dating a man who is being stalked by his ex-lover, who is a patient of said therapist. The story flips between the point of view of the two women. There's nothing mind shattering or cliff-hangerish (no boiled bunnies, that I can recall.) And as the story unfolded, the depth of the characters increased, so that, as in life, no one is wholly good or wholly evil. ...more
Read this back in 2009 and this review sat under another book of the same name but by a different author, until an astute reader noticed it was incorrRead this back in 2009 and this review sat under another book of the same name but by a different author, until an astute reader noticed it was incorrectly filed. Fixing that error now.
This book was sent to me by a BookCrosser. I'm not really much of a chick lit reader, but have read more in the past few years. The thing that I like about the books that are written abroad is how they broaden my vocabulary and give me glimpses into a very different lifestyle and location. My life is richer for knowing the difference between snogging and shagging (just an ironic aside here. There is a famous dance done to beach music, that originated in this area, called, you guessed it, the shag). This book was my maiden voyage into Australian click lit and opened up new avenues to explore.
At first, I was put off by the excessive (to my mind) use of drugs & alcohol and constant parties. It must be exhausting to lead such a life. And when would you find time to read???
But, just about when I decided I'd had enough, I realized I was a little more than halfway through, and that I kind of wanted to see where the author took all this. The second half was much quicker to read. The author has chosen to deal with some pretty heady issues and the book does give you a little tour of Sydney- so for those reasons, and for the description of Tim Tams, I'll bump it up a star....more
I received a copy of this book from the author, to release and get the book travelling via BookCrossing. Reading the book was not required, but I did,I received a copy of this book from the author, to release and get the book travelling via BookCrossing. Reading the book was not required, but I did, and thought it a nice way to encourage maths and reinforce that cheaters never win. Plus it's colorfully illustrated, and has a clever frog. Will be releasing the book shortly. Thanks for sending this my way!...more
This is dense and delicious book, like a one of those chocolate cakes, "Death by Chocolate" or "Torta di Cioccolato", or something French with raspberThis is dense and delicious book, like a one of those chocolate cakes, "Death by Chocolate" or "Torta di Cioccolato", or something French with raspberries around the edges. Definitely layered, and definitely scrumptious.
I hadn't fully realized the time period in which it was set, but a reference to Windows on the World suddenly had me shifting my dread (for I anticipated something big happening) from a looming heart attack of a character to something much bigger and darker.
Glass handled all the characters in this book, and their worlds, beautifully....more
Found this on a book exchange shelf, and took it to possibly register for BookCrossing. After reading, I noticed the book had a Charleston County PublFound this on a book exchange shelf, and took it to possibly register for BookCrossing. After reading, I noticed the book had a Charleston County Public Library inventory sticker and no "discard" stamp, which was odd for something on a book give-away shelf. So, good citizen (and sometimes-library volunteer) that I am, I checked with circulation. Sure enough, the book has been marked "lost" since 2014, and the lose-ee has already paid to replace it. It's a little tattered and battered, with indications that it may have been to the beach or stuffed in a backpack since going missing, but all pages were intact. I wonder what adventures it had while on walk-about.
As to the story itself, I liked it. Lamb has chosen to explore a number of illnesses of the mind, and done it in a loving and thoughtful manner. Almost all central characters are wounded, but not in a "poor pitiful me" way. The exploration of coming back to health (for the main character) after PTSD and after a gastric bypass (and other health issues) was so beautifully handled. What also resonated with me was the artistic expression of so many of the characters, growing into self through art, whether it be knitting, drawing, making chairs, or planting a garden. It's not often that I get teary reading a book, but there was a moment in this one, where the author had me laughing, and my eyes tearing up as my heart swelled, at the same moment. Nice....more
This came into my hands at a somewhat complex time, compounded by a broken rib, which made me sit still and read (ah bliss!). So, it was the perfect mThis came into my hands at a somewhat complex time, compounded by a broken rib, which made me sit still and read (ah bliss!). So, it was the perfect moment to be introduced to this poet. Some of the poems really resonated, some were interesting observations of another's experience. I loved the art. Passed on to a friend deeply involved in our local Poetry Society....more
There was a lot I liked about this book -- the details of running a bakery, interactions between the sisters, the bits of history of Alexandria, the bThere was a lot I liked about this book -- the details of running a bakery, interactions between the sisters, the bits of history of Alexandria, the back story of Susie, a lost ju=ournal, and yes, even the ghosts, but there was a lot that also detracted from my pleasure reading it. The relationships in the back story, and the connection to the front end of things were convoluted, and more complex than I could appreciate as a bedtime read. It was unclear why both ghosts felt the need to haunt. Mrs W's reluctance to speak up on things, thirty years ago or in the present (before she died.) Plus, I didn't fully connect with Daisy. But, all in all, I enjoyed the book, and have studiously avoided looking at the recipes in the back, since I have an allergy to wheat. Why torture myself further?
It's not that I don't think this book is clever, or well written, or lacks some steam punk/alternative history chops. I just need to put it aside forIt's not that I don't think this book is clever, or well written, or lacks some steam punk/alternative history chops. I just need to put it aside for another day. The cover, alone, is worth reading the book to find out what's going on. I guess I'm a sucker for a airman monkey, with an eyepatch, a cigar and a revolver. (Enough so, so that I checked out this post on the author's blog, Painting the Monkey, which surely must be a euphemism for something.
Anyhow, my mind is too scattered right now to give this the proper attention it deserves, and I've been unable to move out of the origins of Ack-Ack in 1944 to get to the guts of the story set a century later when the fun really gets going. I'll keep this in the pile by my bedside to read. I'm suspecting I'll want to hand it off to one or two folks at this year's JordanCon.
First started December 28, then put aside for another day.
Edited March 2015: Picked it up again, and really enjoyed it. Nice science fiction, with a touch of history and humanity (and a macaque.)...more
I love mysteries. I love noir. I'm just not a short story fan. Despite that, I gave this a good try, ultimately skipping through to read the ones GoryI love mysteries. I love noir. I'm just not a short story fan. Despite that, I gave this a good try, ultimately skipping through to read the ones GoryDetails highlighted. The Red Rose Vial and Midnight at the Oasis were ultimately my favorites (and yes, I am a Poe fan and belly-dance). Still, I think this series is an interesting project, and I suspect each volume holds great delight for people more familiar with the cities involved than I am with Richmond (which I know mainly through reading or driving through on I-95). Off to the bookshelf today!...more
This was sent to me for a BookCrossing book exchange we've started in my building. I'd read almost all of the Southern Sisters series besides this oneThis was sent to me for a BookCrossing book exchange we've started in my building. I'd read almost all of the Southern Sisters series besides this one, most by audio-read. I've enjoyed the unlikely duo of Sister and Mouse, the glimpses of Birmingham, and the peripheral characters that populate these cozy mysteries, southern style. It was nice to dip back into the books, a nice break from the gritty mysteries I've been reading of late. I like the way George fills the pages with everyday tidbits of life: conversations between long-marrieds, walking the dog (with the wonderful name of Woofer), wandering Birmingham's shops and streets, the joys and worries over children and grandchildren, and lots of food, lots of ways. It seems sweet tea and orange biscuits can stand up to the coffee, cigarettes, and open faced sandwiches of nordic noir just fine. And only one dead body, poisoned, not bludgeoned is also a refreshing change. Blackmail, jealousy, and secrets can be deadly too, it seems.
Even though George left her fans with only 8 books in this series before her death, they are delightful. Her other books, outside the series, (or at least the ones I've read) are good, too. She was a talented author and poet. (In fact a poetry collection of hers was nominated for the Pulitzer in 1993 and she was state poet for Alabama 5 or 6 years before her death.) I think I've got one more of the series to read, but I'll wait to do so, and then savor it like a delectable bon-bon.
A slice of life set in a Scottish fishing village. It's the stuff of everyday, with characters you get to know as if they were your neighbors, warts aA slice of life set in a Scottish fishing village. It's the stuff of everyday, with characters you get to know as if they were your neighbors, warts and all. Feistier and bawdier than Miss Marple or Agatha Raisin ever were, but more real as well. Interestingly enough, this is the third book in a row that has illiteracy (and dyslexia) as a plot element.
This book was sent by a BookCrosser for our book exchange here in the building and I decided to read it first, as I was unfamiliar with the author, who appears to have a loyal following....more
I suppose if I found myself at a different point in my life, this book might have been more meaningful for me. It seems, though, that life has alreadyI suppose if I found myself at a different point in my life, this book might have been more meaningful for me. It seems, though, that life has already taught me pretty much all of the lessons that are featured in this book, and that my own story is pretty spectacular and meaningful in its own right, and maybe filled with a bit more fun and laughter along the way. But, it did have some nice flower lore, and a couple of lovely characters, and was set in a small town in Washington state, so that made it worth reading. I kept waiting for the joy to come in, and while it was hinted at, or arrived for secondary characters, I had to wait a long time for something that seemed a little obvious.
An older Anne Perry Christmas offering, featuring Charlotte Pitt's mother, Caroline and her actor second husband. The kind of book you can breeze throAn older Anne Perry Christmas offering, featuring Charlotte Pitt's mother, Caroline and her actor second husband. The kind of book you can breeze through in an afternoon. Some nice insights into putting on a play about Dracula, but if you're looking for depth, or horror, this won't do it for you. It barely even does Christmas, and I have no idea what the Homecoming in the title is referring to....more
We listened to this during a car trip. It was the first Patterson experience for javaczuk and my first exposure to the Women's Murder Club segment ofWe listened to this during a car trip. It was the first Patterson experience for javaczuk and my first exposure to the Women's Murder Club segment of his writing. (I've read some stand alones, and also the Maximum Ride series.) We tend to read authors such as Mankell, Nesbo, and the late James Thompson, so this was a decided break from Nordic noir. It was good for the trip, but I'm afraid there were a number of plot inconsistencies (most of which could have been caught by a good proof/consistency edit) and on the whole, we were left feeling a little disappointed. I don't know if this was because it was a co-written book, or that the characters didn't grab us. It just seemed a little thin and a little obvious in some places. I may try Patterson again, but I doubt javaczuk will....more
This was entertaining in many different ways. First, the story/premise was intriguing. That neither universe matched our San Francisco was amusing. ThThis was entertaining in many different ways. First, the story/premise was intriguing. That neither universe matched our San Francisco was amusing. The characters were fun, and that there was a bit of a mystery added interest. On the whole, it was a nice romp, and it gave me a new term: yapbut, which, though I can't find the page I marked with the actual definition (bookmark fell out, which is entirely annoying ): Imagine the universes that one event could have created) means something like yet another possible bifurcation universe time/theory.
The Salem Witch Trials were a blot in our American, indeed our Human, history. Mass hysteria and teenage angst run amok, influencing a crowd frenzy inThe Salem Witch Trials were a blot in our American, indeed our Human, history. Mass hysteria and teenage angst run amok, influencing a crowd frenzy in people who probably ended up wishing they'd known better. This is a well thought out novel about one family caught in the jaws of accusation. There were parts and descriptions I liked a great deal, parts that were wearisome for me. I grew tired of wondering what was the "great secret" of Sarah's father, and grew instead, to admire the character of the man, even though the book focused more on his wife and was told from the point of view if his daughter....more
Started this, but just can't fall into the story. My mind is racing too much to settle into the time period I guess. (We sold our house! We are houseStarted this, but just can't fall into the story. My mind is racing too much to settle into the time period I guess. (We sold our house! We are house hunting! We are moving! Soon!)
Anyhow, I'm releasing all BookCrossing books that I stumble upon so we don't have to pack/move/unpack them in whatever we find. We're downsizing, so the book collection gets thinned again.
And what is it with all the novels that are the something-or-other's wife or daughter? ...more
I often felt the lack of a sister in my life. Having brothers is wonderful, and they each brought women into their lives as wives, who, I feel, have bI often felt the lack of a sister in my life. Having brothers is wonderful, and they each brought women into their lives as wives, who, I feel, have bridged the "no sister" gap of my childhood. But my wish for a sister was more of the idealized best friend version, not the nitty gritty realism of complex relationships. Just because my mother and her sister had a wonderful fit wouldn't guarantee that if I had a sister from birth, we might get along about as well as I did with my elementary school arch enemy.
The sisters in this book, each named after one of Shakespeare's leading ladies, are as different as chalk and cheese, or maybe as different as Hermia and Helena. Yet they work together, clash, love, and forge ahead in a wonderful fashion, united in their different views of how to make life work for their parents, when illness rears its unwelcome head.
One of the things I liked the most about this book was the fluid p.o.v. of the narrator -- the weird sisters themselves, sliding easily from sister to sister, or sisters, never identifying who was speaking, but always sister. I've never read a book with this type of constant, yet changing narrative, always "we" and "our", never in the singular....more
I started this book, really couldn't get into it, so put it aside. In the meantime, a friend read it and loved it. At her urging, I picked it up againI started this book, really couldn't get into it, so put it aside. In the meantime, a friend read it and loved it. At her urging, I picked it up again -- this time, I really liked it.
The title is perfect, in so many senses, some that become clearer as the book progresses. What starts out to be two isolated, clearly broken "Eleanor Rigby" women gel into a family, along with the rag-tag recruits who affix themselves into their lives. But that's the cheater's description. The book is so much more, in such unexpected ways.
There is a point, where a character is cooking and the following passage occurs, where he is describing how his grandmother taught him to cook:
"'Slow down, boychick' she was always saying. 'Cooking is not to rush. It's a prayer. A gift of love. It's a family. It's standing in the company of your ancestors and feeling their hands, helping you.'" Bruce started weaving the strands into braids. "When you're Jewish, everything that matters happens in the kitchen."
Despite the fact that I was en route to my nephew's Bar Mitzvah, I didn't expect to be poleaxed by a fundamental truth of my Jewish heritage. Nor did I expect to stumble into the creation of art that matches very much some of my artistic tendencies, or a philosophy of giving I've always wished to be able to carry out. I didn't expect to see one of the characters break in so many ways, and resurrect into something that could take "broken" and make it beautiful. I just didn't expect...
I passed this book on to my cousin, simply because of the above quote. Glad I picked this up again and finished it this time....more
A gentle, sad, funny, insightful memoir. No parent wants to outlive a child. Yet, the author speaks openly about his grief, anger, and his unfailing lA gentle, sad, funny, insightful memoir. No parent wants to outlive a child. Yet, the author speaks openly about his grief, anger, and his unfailing love for his daughter and her children. Two things that struck me over and over was the fame of the people in the author's circle of friends, and his incredible sense of humor/playfulness. Bopo the great, indeed. ...more
This is one of the saddest books I have ever read. Beautifully written (and the audio is read by the author), but beautifully sad. I have avoided it fThis is one of the saddest books I have ever read. Beautifully written (and the audio is read by the author), but beautifully sad. I have avoided it for years because of the topic, but read it this year for the Stanford Book Salon. I both listened to it on audio and read the book. There were some bits where I was uneasy to have my car window down when listening, but the writing was phenomenal....more
Dorothea Benton Frank is kind of hit and miss with me. I'll like one book, get frustrated with the next couple, promise myself never to pick up anotheDorothea Benton Frank is kind of hit and miss with me. I'll like one book, get frustrated with the next couple, promise myself never to pick up another one, weaken, and she then hits one out of the park. To be fair, most of my frustrations come when there are inaccuracies about my beloved lowcountry. I know novels are fiction, but there are some things with which I just can't tolerate liberties being taken. So, when a friend gave me a copy of Folly Beach I almost didn't read it, because the last DBF book I'd read had been one I'd enjoyed. By all rights, then, this one should have made me shriek and throw it across the room (in a very lady-like manner, mind you.)
This story is told in entwining two parts. That drives some folks crazy, but I like parallel stories. And I particularly liked the thread that was presented as the script of a one-woman play about Dorothy Heyward, wife of Debose Heyward (and author, playwrite in her own right). The other segment was pure Frank: a widow coming home to the lowcountry to heal and grow. That the second tale involved not one, but three cameos by people I know, gave me a bit of a chuckle. I was less tolerant about some errors in location, distance, etc, but hey, I got Gershwin, and Porgy and Bess. (I do have to say that I'd always been told the house Gershwin stayed in was washed away in a hurricane sometime before I first hit Folly in the 1970's, not with Hugo in 1989. And the legend I know is that the bells of St Michael's inspired the first notes of "Summertime". But still, there's a lot of history and legend told in this book that I've heard, too.) I'm always a little surprised at the Yiddish that occasionally slips into these books, too. I can see people furiously googling "ungapatched" (which is not how I would have spelled it, but recognize it as the same as "ungepatchke" which I learned meant too much of anything, in an un-pleasing over-the-top way.) I'm still wondering about"fachalata" and if it's a play on farkakt aka fakakta. (Look it up.)
I think that the information I learned about Dorothy and Dubois Heyward is what carried the book for me, and what bumped it to a 4 star in my enjoyment. That, and the mention of my dear friend Harriet MacDougal Rigney in the acknowledgements. ...more
If Lincoln didn't keep a set of secret diaries, he should have. Brilliant minds like that should have many outlets. Loved the mix of fact and fancy, tIf Lincoln didn't keep a set of secret diaries, he should have. Brilliant minds like that should have many outlets. Loved the mix of fact and fancy, though there were a couple of historical documents I wish I had the oomph to look up to see how they actually read.
Best thing I liked about this vampire story? The hot and sexy card isn't played.
As the story moved into the later years of Lincoln's life, I was struck again by how much tragedy he endured personally, beyond the near shattering of the country. It's no wonder his shoulders sagged and his face grew more haggard before his encounter with John Wilkes Booth.
Plot is described elsewhere, but if you're into history, alternate history, and fantasy, maybe give this one a whirl. Some people are too interesting to die, it seems, and Lincoln lives on in this book and the film of the same title.
(Rating is more of a 3.5, but I rounded up because of exceptional cover art.)...more
I picked this up thinking it was a memoir. It took me a little while to catch on it was a novel, and for some reason I was disappointed that it was fiI picked this up thinking it was a memoir. It took me a little while to catch on it was a novel, and for some reason I was disappointed that it was fiction not fact. That disappointment and shattering of expectation colored my perceptions, I think.
Still, the book takes an interesting premise -- a white, western woman raised as a Muslim. The story careens around to different parts of the world: Morocco, Ethiopia, finally leaving Africa for London. It touches many aspects of life, including political upheaval, rebellion, faith, bigotry, health, tradition, and of course, love. The health care bits, particularly interested me.
Well written, well paced between the present day, and the past, informative, it was an interesting book, even if it wasn't a memoir....more
We had a garage/jumble sale today and between customers, I read this little book. Reminded me of my days on LiveJournal, reading snippets of thoughtsWe had a garage/jumble sale today and between customers, I read this little book. Reminded me of my days on LiveJournal, reading snippets of thoughts of friends. A nice way to spend the morning. Will release at an OBCZ soon, probably tomorrow. This copy was sent to me by the author....more
Paris: City of Light, macarons and perfect baguettes. Transplant a New Yorker to Paris and you get the the juxtaposition of madelein to muffin, gateauParis: City of Light, macarons and perfect baguettes. Transplant a New Yorker to Paris and you get the the juxtaposition of madelein to muffin, gateaux to cupcake. Each has a place in the orbit of the universe (most readily in my tummy.) Amy Thomas takes the reader along as she lives abroad, in what could be viewed as the perfect job, and explores the city of her dreams, one bakery at a time. Yet she also loves New York, and having lived, written, and nibbled there, invites the reader on that journey, too.
The book folds Amy's memoirs into a layered delight with exploration of places to find the most tempting taste treats in both cities. Her own story is the ganache between the two, with a decorative flourish of some of her favorite establishments in each city,capping the end of each chapter like a perfect dark chocolate swirl.
I'll admit it: there were moments when the memoir grabbed me more, others where my stomach lusted for sipping chocolate, or a rich, buttery, flaky croissant. I even put down the book and baked a batch of cookies at one point. But I came away less satisfied, in general, than I thought I would at the beginning of the book. Perhaps if tucked between the pages were tickets to either city? Or perhaps if I had the opportunities to retrace some of the travels? I've never been good at reading guidebooks for places I couldn't visit, so this was a bit frustrating. However, I live in a city of gastronomic wonders, and I have plenty of exploring left to do....more
Ran out of books on a trip and picked this one up at a book exchange shelf. So, "How perfect is that?" As to the story, not high on the perfect list.Ran out of books on a trip and picked this one up at a book exchange shelf. So, "How perfect is that?" As to the story, not high on the perfect list. Couldn't stand the characters, didn't find amusement where I think it might have been intended. Abandoned the book after reading a good hunk of it, grateful to find something else on the shelf at our destination. Don't ask me to rate it, because it wouldn't be fair since I didn't finish it. ...more
I picked this novel up at a Friends of the Library book sale. When it actually came to reading it, I kept putting it off, thinking it would be depressI picked this novel up at a Friends of the Library book sale. When it actually came to reading it, I kept putting it off, thinking it would be depressing and sad. What it turned out to be was actually a study in hope. I like how the tale unfolded: back-story and two separate strands of current day. The story of three sisters, one of whom goes missing at age 5. Fifteen years later, the story starts again. It's also the story of choices and the way our live diverges every time we make one. It was a good book to cozy up with on a day when I really didn't feel like doing much besides reading....more