I love books about bookstores so I was excited to start "The Little Paris Bookshop". Monsieur Jean Perdu's literary apothecary is located on a barge mI love books about bookstores so I was excited to start "The Little Paris Bookshop". Monsieur Jean Perdu's literary apothecary is located on a barge moored on the Seine. Perdu senses people's needs and problems, and prescribes books that are perfect for each customer. Unfortunately, he has been unable to deal with his own heartache since the love of his life left him 21 years ago. His lover had left him a letter when she departed from Paris, but he waited 21 years to finally open it and feels shocked when her reason for leaving him is revealed.
Perdu, whose last name is French for "lost", is feeling adrift emotionally. The bookseller embarks on a healing journey to rediscover the wonderful things in life, using all his senses and letting go of his inhibitions. Perdu and Max Jordan, a young popular novelist suffering from writer's block, travel on the book barge through a series of canals to Provence. Their journey exposes them to all the sensory delights of life--the beautiful French countryside, wonderful food and wine, interesting people, and words of wisdom.
Their trip sounds like a magical journey that most of us would love. Unfortunately, the writing (or the translation) is so syrupy sweet that it starts to cloy after hundreds of pages. I started thinking about speakers I've heard at poetry lectures, art museums, and concerts--people in touch with their feelings--but couldn't come up with any guy so sugary in their speech. I felt that the author had a great idea for the book, and there were parts I enjoyed, but it was just overdone. 3 1/2 stars....more
When Lori was a child, her mother told her bedtime stories about Aunt Dimity. Lori thought she was a fictional character until she received notice thaWhen Lori was a child, her mother told her bedtime stories about Aunt Dimity. Lori thought she was a fictional character until she received notice that she had received an inheritance from Aunt Dimity. Accompanied by the younger lawyer in the firm Willis & Willis, Lori journeys to Aunt Dimity's cottage in the Cotswolds. This is a cute story with a cozy mystery, a light romance, some improbable events, and a friendly ghost (no, not Casper). It was a nice change of pace after reading some heavy books lately. So brew a pot of tea and enjoy a trip to the English countryside....more
Katie, a book editor in New York, has been left by the man that she hoped to marry someday. Matt, a poet from Martha's Vineyard, drops off a diary byKatie, a book editor in New York, has been left by the man that she hoped to marry someday. Matt, a poet from Martha's Vineyard, drops off a diary by Katie's door to help her understand his actions. His first wife, Suzanne, wrote this diary to their son Nicholas, telling him about her move to Martha's Vineyard, falling in love with his father, and the happiness she found in motherhood.
When Suzanne had health problems, a friend told her a story about getting better balance in one's life. Life is a game in which you are juggling five balls--work, family, health, friends, and integrity. You're trying to keep them all in the air. But work is a rubber ball that will bounce if it is dropped. The other four balls are made of glass, and will be harmed or shattered if they are dropped.
The author had the experience of losing a woman he loved when she developed a brain tumor. Years later he married his present wife. In the book Patterson shows that a person can fear to love again, wondering if they are setting themselves up for more heartache.
The book had some good messages about love, and about keeping balance in one's life. But it was overly sweet with a predictable plot. The author seemed to follow a similar formula as Nicholas Sparks, so fans of Sparks' romance novels would probably enjoy this story....more
"Gramercy Park" transports us to Victorian New York City in 1894. Mario Alfieri, a renowned tenor who will be performing at the Metropolitan Opera, is"Gramercy Park" transports us to Victorian New York City in 1894. Mario Alfieri, a renowned tenor who will be performing at the Metropolitan Opera, is looking to rent the home of the recently deceased wealthy Henry Slade. Mario meets Clara Adler, the ward of Mr Slade, a destitute but beautiful young woman. It's love at first sight, and the couple are married within a few weeks. Mario soon suspects that Clara has a terrifying past because she is so frightened, and the truth about her parentage and disturbing childhood comes out layer by layer.
The book is a glimpse into New York high society, a Gothic romance, and a mystery with the dashing Mario saving Clara from the evil villains. The plot of Clara's backstory has as much intrigue as the operas at the Met. It's good storytelling written in a Victorian style, full of suspense, with likable romantic main characters....more
The Matchmaker is a summer read about family, romance, and island life. The author is obviously fond of Nantucket making the main character, the vivacThe Matchmaker is a summer read about family, romance, and island life. The author is obviously fond of Nantucket making the main character, the vivacious Dabney, the head of the Chamber of Commerce. Dabney has a special magical talent of matchmaking, seeing a rosy pink aura when a couple is perfect for each other. Unfortunately, things are not going so smoothly in her own family who have emotional and health problems. This light book is a bit predictable, but would be fun to take along on a beach vacation....more
The author was inspired by the true story of a group of fourteen people from an Irish village who traveled on the Titanic in 1912, hoping to find a beThe author was inspired by the true story of a group of fourteen people from an Irish village who traveled on the Titanic in 1912, hoping to find a better life in America. The fictional Maggie Murphy, a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, was so traumatized by the terrible events that she had been unwilling to share her story, even with her family. As she reached her 90th birthday, Maggie opened up to her great-granddaughter and showed her the journal she kept during the fateful voyage.
The novel concentrates on a group of Irish friends who traveled steerage class, rather than the rich and famous first class passengers, although they are also mentioned. The surviving passengers were rescued by the ship "Carpathia" and brought to New York City. There were conflicting lists of survivors with many passengers in shock or suffering from hypothermia, and unable to communicate. The heartbroken survivors faced life in a new country without their loved ones who had perished in the disaster.
The novel was composed of regular chapters, journal entries, letters, and telegrams. The first half of the book was very repetitious with many events in the regular chapters mentioned a second time in the journal or letters. Some more editing would have improved this part of the book. Fortunately, the last half of the book, about the sinking of the Titanic and its aftermath, was very engaging. The back of the book also contained some interesting historical information and material for reading groups....more
Xinran was a journalist who had a radio program about the lives of Chinese women. In 1994 she received a call from a listener asking her to interviewXinran was a journalist who had a radio program about the lives of Chinese women. In 1994 she received a call from a listener asking her to interview a woman with a fascinating story. She spoke with Shu Wen for two days, but was never able to contact her again. The copyright page calls Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet a book of fiction, but Xinran indicates in the preface that the novel was based on her conversations with this old Chinese woman. Shu Wen spent over thirty years in Tibet, hoping to locate the man she loved.
Newlyweds Shu Wen and her husband were both Chinese doctors. Her husband was sent to Tibet with the People's Liberation Army during the unification period after the Chinese invasion. In 1958 Shu Wen received a death notice without any other information about her husband's cause of death. To find out if he might still be alive, she also joined the PLA and traveled into Tibet. During the trip Shu Wen saved the life of a Tibetan woman who also spoke Chinese. When the two women were separated from the soldiers they were taken in by a Tibetan nomad family. The nomads traveled to the safer regions of the country to avoid the clashes between the Chinese army and Tibetan guerrillas. Shu Wen was exposed to the Tibetan lifestyle, language, traditions, and spirituality. She eventually found out why her husband disappeared.
This was a beautifully written story that transported the reader to the isolated areas of Tibet. Buddhist spirituality is a part of daily life in Tibet. The title "Sky Burial" refers to a tradition where vultures feed upon a corpse in a religious ceremony--the body returns to nature and the spirit is sent on its way. Life and death are part of the process of reincarnation. Not all burials are treated in this way.
The subtitle "An Epic Love Story of Tibet" is a good description of the tone of this novel. Since the story was set in the remote areas of Tibet, it avoided telling of much of the political unrest that was present in the country during the Cultural Revolution. Shu Wen did not return to the more populated areas of Tibet and China (which had undergone great changes) until the end of her thirty year quest. This book is highly recommended for its look at Tibetan culture, and its engaging story of love and devotion....more
Abel narrates a story about his mysterious past in the "green mansions" of the Venezuelan rainforest. When he was a young revolutionary, he had to goAbel narrates a story about his mysterious past in the "green mansions" of the Venezuelan rainforest. When he was a young revolutionary, he had to go into hiding in an Indian village in the Parahuari Mountains. He went exploring in a nearby forest where the Indians refused to walk, fearing the presence of an evil spirit, the Daughter of the Didi. She was a half-wild girl named Rima who lived close to nature, hiding while singing with soft warbling sounds. "Again and again as I stood there listening it sounded, now so faint and apparently far off as to be scarcely audible; then all at once it would ring out bright and clear within a few yards of me, as if the shy little thing had suddenly grown bold; but, far or near, the vocalist remained invisible, and at length the tantalising melody ceased altogether."
This romantic fantasy show the author's love of the natural world of South America. It portrayed an allegorical ideal world where man lives in harmony with nature. Although Hudson's writing is very descriptive and flowery, the book kept my interest because of its imaginative quality. Published in 1904, some parts of the book would be considered offensive by today's standards concerning native people. It mentioned the superiority of the white man even though the native Indians provided help to Abel, and kept him from starving to death many times during the course of his adventures.
Graeme Simsion has written an entertaining sequel to The Rosie Project. Don Tillman is an exceptionally intelligent, but socially inept, genetics reseGraeme Simsion has written an entertaining sequel to The Rosie Project. Don Tillman is an exceptionally intelligent, but socially inept, genetics researcher. He and Rosie have moved to New York City to work and study at Columbia University. After ten months of marriage Rosie announces that she is pregnant. As Don adjusts to the idea of becoming a father, one mishap after another occurs. While I enjoyed the original Rosie book a little more, the sequel was also very humorous and fun. 3 1/2 stars.
3.5 stars The Last Letter from Your Lover is a romance complicated by family obligations and missed opportunities. In London in the 1960s, Jennifer is3.5 stars The Last Letter from Your Lover is a romance complicated by family obligations and missed opportunities. In London in the 1960s, Jennifer is recovering from a serious auto accident and has severe memory loss. She does not remember her wealthy husband who treats her like a possession. She finds some hidden passionate letters, signed only with a B, and tries to piece together her secret life. Who was B?
Forty years later, a journalist Ellie comes upon several of B's romantic letters stored in the newspaper archives. Involved in a relationship with a married man herself, she sees a spark in the letters that is not present in her own life. Ellie investigates what happened to Jennifer and her lover, and also has to make some difficult personal decisions.
In addition to passion, the story also showed the problems that an affair can bring--a devastated spouse and hurt children. Historically, the book also illustrated the difference in communication from the wonderful 1963 love letters to the quick 2003 text messages. I've read two other books by Jojo Moyes, and found she was an engaging storyteller again. She has the ability to express emotions so well that I genuinely care what happens to the characters....more
Jeremiah Wakefield had a dream of buying a farm in Nebraska. When the call went up in his upper New York town to join the Union army, he enlisted to eJeremiah Wakefield had a dream of buying a farm in Nebraska. When the call went up in his upper New York town to join the Union army, he enlisted to earn the money needed. His newlywed wife Rosetta was a strong girl who had grown up helping her father on their farm since he had no sons to work the fields. She loved working outdoors, preferring it to traditional women's work. A few days after Jeremiah left for training, she decided to disguise herself as a man and join him as a Union soldier. The book is both a Civil war story, and a story about the deep love between Jeremiah and Rosetta.
There were over 250 women pretending to be men that fought in both the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Rosetta's character was based on the real Sarah Rosetta Wakeman who served in the 153rd New York State Volunteers from 1862-1864. Women also acted as spies for both sides. When she is on guard duty in the Old Capitol Prison, Rosetta encounters the incarcerated "Rebel Rose" Greenhow, the colorful Confederate spy, sending Morse Code messages using a candle. Women also served as nurses and laundresses for the troops. They worked hard on the home front running the family farms and businesses while the men were away at war.
The horrors of war, especially at Bull Run and Antietam, are intensely visible. After they bury the dead, including another disguised woman soldier, Rosetta falls out of formation as they pass a creek and immerses herself in the water. "I can't keep on with all this death on me....I ain't going one more step until I've got my fingernails clean, at least....I ain't going to my death unclean like this!"
There was quite a bit of detailed historical information woven into the book. Rosetta and Jeremiah were compelling characters with an emotionally touching story. ...more
A beautiful portrait entitled "The Girl You Left Behind" connects two engaging love stories in a historical novel full of moral ambiguities. The bookA beautiful portrait entitled "The Girl You Left Behind" connects two engaging love stories in a historical novel full of moral ambiguities. The book opens in 1916 in a German-occupied French village. The villagers are hungry and cold, and they are not sure which of their neighbors are trustworthy. Sophie Lefevre and her sister are told to cook dinner for German soldiers in their hotel's restaurant every evening. Sophie's husband, an artist who is now a soldier in the French army, had painted her portrait which hangs in the hotel. The German Kommandant appreciates art, and he is fascinated by the painting of Sophie--and by Sophie herself. When Sophie receives a letter that her husband was captured and sent to a German labor camp, she wonders if she can risk asking the Kommandant to help her.
The second part of the book occurs 90 years later in London where Liv Halston is grieving the death of her husband. David Halston had bought the painting for Liv when they were on their honeymoon. Liv is dating Paul, an art-thief investigator who tracks down art looted during the world wars. In an unlikely coincidence, Paul recognizes her painting as one of the treasures that he is trying to recover. Liv does not want to give up the painting since it is a connection to her beloved David. As the case goes to trial, and discoveries are made about the history of the painting, Sophie's and Liv's stories are connected. Moral gray areas are shown as the legal case progresses.
The book held my interest throughout both Sophie's and Liv's stories, although the World War I story was more emotionally intense. The author has created strong, interesting characters that have to make tough, questionable decisions. After reading two of Jojo Moyes' books, I look forward to picking up another soon....more
"Fangirl" is a coming of age story about Cath as she starts her first year of university in Nebraska. Cath's more outgoing twin, Wren, is living at a"Fangirl" is a coming of age story about Cath as she starts her first year of university in Nebraska. Cath's more outgoing twin, Wren, is living at a nearby dorm, and has big plans to party and meet the frat guys. Cath is an avid fan of Simon Snow, a literary character similar to Harry Potter, and has many followers who read her fanfiction. She is so caught up with writing Simon Snow fanfiction that she is not moving on with her life. Her quirky roommate, a special guy, and a persistent professor help her see her potential. Cath and Wren's parents also have individual issues that add to the story.
This is a YA book with humorous dialogue that shows the different sides of the freshman college experience. Cath initially seemed extremely isolated and unfriendly to others. This was the first time she had to navigate the world without her twin, so even going to dinner at the cafeteria seemed daunting. The college students were realistic, especially Wren who doesn't know how much alcohol she can handle.
Along with Cath's story, there are sections of the book with Simon Snow's adventures from both the "original author" and from Cath's fanfiction. Although I had heard of fanfiction before, I did not realize how many writers there were online using published authors' characters, and creating their own stories. Since I only read the first Harry Potter book, I can't evaluate how closely the Simon Snow experiences mimic Harry Potter's. The book is fun in many ways--as a coming of age story, as a cute "first love" romance, and as a window into the world of fanfiction....more
Laura feels trapped in her marriage to Dan who has been withdrawn and negative since losing his job almost two years ago. They live in Maine with a daLaura feels trapped in her marriage to Dan who has been withdrawn and negative since losing his job almost two years ago. They live in Maine with a daughter who is approaching her senior year of high school, and a son off at college. Laura feels a sense of relief when she has the opportunity to go away for a weekend to attend a radiology conference in Boston.
At the hotel, she meets a salesman, Richard. They feel a connection due to a mutual love of words and literature. Soon, they are letting each other know the secrets of their lives including unhappy marriages, loneliness, and regrets for paths not taken. Is it possible to fall in love in 24 hours? Are they courageous enough to make changes in their lives? How will their decisions impact their families?
The book did not end the way I expected, but it was an ending with hope for Laura's future. Although there were a few parts that could have been edited down a bit, it was an interesting contemporary read about characters who had to make some difficult decisions....more
"The Rosie Project" is a very humorous romance written from a male character's point of view. Australian Professor Don Tillman is off the charts in te"The Rosie Project" is a very humorous romance written from a male character's point of view. Australian Professor Don Tillman is off the charts in terms of intelligence, but has a hard time with personal interactions. He's not quick to pick up on verbal and facial social clues due to Asperger's. Most of the humor revolves around Don's inept behavior with women, but the genetics professor is also presented as an intelligent, handsome guy with a good social conscience. He decides to make a questionnaire to filter out unsuitable women in his search for a wife, and calls it the Wife Project. When he meets Rosie, a bartender who contacts him for genetics advice in tracking down her biological father, he agrees to take on a new task--the Father Project. Rosie does not meet the requirements of his questionnaire, but he has the best days of his life when he's with her.
Although Don is presented as a stereotypical person with Asperger's for the sake of humor, there is also a chapter when he lectures about the syndrome noting, "Asperger's isn't a fault. It's a variant. It's potentially a major advantage. Asperger's syndrome is associated with organization, focus, innovative thinking, and rational detachment."
As I was reading the book, I was thinking what a great movie or situation comedy "The Rosie Project" would be. So I was pleased to see on the last page that the author's screen adaptation has been optioned by Sony Pictures. The book is engaging, heartwarming, and humorous....more