Friday, June 9, 2017

Can I get a World War II Novel Please?

World War II novels are trendy. It's sad, I know, but it's also totally true. Just like stories of dystopian societies and men growing vegetables in space, people want to read about life during World War II. Why? Triumph over adversity? Acknowledgement of mankind's recent and shocking display of our capability of being beastly and inhuman? Drama? Whatever the reasons the novels are soaring to the tops of popularity charts, I've boarded the trend train and here are some of my thoughts and recommendations. Enjoy!

Nightingale - by Kristen Hannah

The story of Vianne and Isabelle, sisters living in France when the War starts, one brunette and seemingly weak, one blond and bold and fearless. It's as much a story of family ties and loves and loyalties as it is about Parisian suffering.

Incredible. Hard to put down. Will make you want to hug your sister.

Book Thief - by Markus Zusak

Death is the narrator of this story that tells of foster child Liesel who steals books and shares them with the Jewish man hiding in her parents basement while her father plays the accordion and mother curses at her.

This story breathes tragedy, and it's utterly lovely. Will make you want to read all the books while you can.

All the Light We Cannot See - by Anthony Doerr

Beautifully written with one chapter for her, Marie, Parisian super intelligent blind heroine working with her father on locks in the Museum of Natural History, and then one chapter for him, Werner, German orphaned radio-mechanic-genius in a Hitler youth camp.

Wait the entire book for their stories to finally become entwined and it's so worth it. Will make you wander around your home with a blindfold wondering if you would be anywhere near as awesome at being blind as Marie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Elephants, Darcy Daughters and the French Revolution

That's what's new with me, how about you?

These three stories, while totally different from each other, reached my heart so quickly and so thoroughly. I pretty much inhaled these books and can only wish the same to you. Yes, today elephants, Darcy daughters and the French revolution heartily recommend themselves to you.

Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived
by Ralph Helfer 

Insta-epic, this story begins in a circus town in Germany where a boy and an elephant are born on the same day to one happy elephant training father. The bond between "siblings" is unbelievably strong, the driving force for their adventures at sea, in the jungle, in India and in America.

Life of Pi meets Black beauty with Aladdin and Young Werner, this is a unique sibling love story that I loved.

Mr. Darcy's Daughters
Five daughters later, Mr Darcy and Elizabeth are happy healthy and out of town. Five love-ready, beautiful and talented girls head to London ever so ready for trouble. Camilla a lovely character mix of mom and dad must keep her younger musically gifted and rebellious sister in check while passing the smelling salts to her older drama queen sister while hoping the flirtatious and daring twin sisters will not jump headlong into too wild of situations. 

Fun, especially if you grew up with sisters, like I did.

The Scarlet Pimpernel
Hello, classic. The Scarlet Pimpernel is the hero of the hour in 18th century France. Outsmarting the Rebels, he has saved scores of innocent men, women, and children from imminent guillotine death. Chauvelin the agent determined to hunt him down is close on his trail and you will not be able to put this book down until you know if he gets caught or not. 
Dramatic and waaaaaaay better than I dreamed it would be, you just gotta power through those first few pages.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Books About Books

A true book lover rejoices over books, people who love books and books about people who love books. 

Here are some subjects of my recent bookish enjoyment:


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin 

Despite living in a beautiful location, running a successful bookstore and enjoying the taste of the cheaper wine in life, A.J.'s existence seems empty and sad. Then one night he stumbles upon a spunky toddler left in his bookstore and his world is turned upside down. 
This is a beautiful story of love between father and adoptive child and how a twist in the pattern of one's life can at times result in so much good. 

The Little Paris Bookshop

by Nina George

Frenchman Monsieur Perdu runs a barge bookstore parked on the Seine. He knows which books will treat which broken heart, he sells books that heal broken people, while he seems to be the only man in Paris whose heartbreak he cannot cure.
If you love Paris and if you love books, then you will adore this ode to literature story.

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen

by Charlie Lovett


Monday, June 13, 2016

books in and about PARIS

I'm a total sucker for Paris.
I'd spent about ten seconds in Paris before I decided I could exist there quite happily for the remainder of my life, and ten years later I still can recover nothing but positive thoughts feeling and memories of the place.
When inconvenient in daily life to make the journey to the best city in the universe, the book book book versions look more and more appealing.
So, if you, like me, are in a Paris sort of mood these stories may seem downright therapeutic.

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes

by Elizabeth Bard
An American girl falls in love at first sight twice over, once with the Parisian man who cooks for her and takes her out to one fantastic French restaurant after another and simultaneously with French cuisine.
Amusing living abroad stories coupled with a cute love story and with a selection of recipes that conclude every chapter, this book is an utterly delicious read, especially for anyone who believes lunch in Paris is a very good idea.
How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are
by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas

Flirting with French

by William Alexander

A middle aged American man obsessed with France, French food, and the French language makes readers laugh out loud at his adventures in the county of his dreams.
His dream biking trip leaves him lost in the pouring rain after "understanding" a homeless pedestrian's directions. His French immersion class causes him endless perplexing over breasts being masculine, beards being feminine, and turkey being gender free.
His tales of learning a second language woe, too, are positively enjoyable.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Calling all HSPs

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You


If life frequently gets to be too overwhelming and the answer seems to be crawling into a dark quiet cave and hiding, thank you should probably read this book.

15-20 percent of the population can be physically (case studies), chemically (blood tests), psychologically (interviews) proven to be more sensitive than others. This book describes why that's not always a bad thing (what? my quietness doesn't make me a freak?) and how to deal with the way you are, realize your limits and plan your life accordingly (meaning: party it up on Friday night but then be sure to schedule yourself some quiet down time Saturday).

Aron's writing is convincing and up building.  However, you'll find a bit too much "parent your broken child self", to make it entirely a light read. It actually ends up feeling like an emotional workshop of sorts. That being said I cried by page two because I felt like I was reading a book written about myself.

Sensitive, much?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Interesting Fiction About Illness

The four books listed below are full of life and despite being about sickness, are entertaining, absorbing and fun to read.
In a world full of stress, illness and problems, sometimes it's nice to calmly sit and read about them as a break from living them.
Keep calm and healthy and try reading some interesting fiction about illness.

Fever by Mary Beth Keane

Typhoid Mary was the healthy woman who spread the disease around 1900's New York City. She's a cook for nice Manhattan families whom she unwittingly and tragically murders one by one before she is eventually caught and charged with being contagious and is dumped in prison to be poked prodded and studied while science catches up with the facts of spreading infection.

All the more interesting since it's based on fact.


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

A cute English girl living in the modern-day countryside is desperate to find a job so she can support her family, so she takes a position as an aide for a paraplegic man, who seems horrid at first but due to her optimism and general loveliness she really does make him a happier human.

Very absorbing, this story will suck you in and chew up your heart a little before spitting you out. Loved. It.

Say What You Will by Connie McGovern

A high school student boy with OCD and anxiety issues befriends a handicapped girl in his grade when he is employed by her mother to carry her books for her while she uses her walker to travel between classes. He bursts her bubble, telling her to stop faking being happy all the time, and her slow paced communication via computer calms him down, as she seems to understand his issues for what they really are.

Theirs is an unlikely relationship which is lovely and painful to watch but impossible to ignore.

The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time by Mark Haddon

An autistic boy in love with prime numbers and totally hating the color yellow one day discovers his neighbor's dog Wellington dead in the yard, leading to the treasure hunt/mystery solving adventure of his logical lifetime.

Written by a Psychologist, this story is eye-opening, while being simultaneously hilarious and devastating.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

5 Books to Read While You Wait For the Bachelor to Come Back

Let's be honest, this Bachelor was the best yet. Of course we miss him! (Sigh) 

Find below five books with a Bachelor-feel that I promise are capable of keeping you entertained on Mondays from 8-10 pm. 


The Selection Series - Kiera Cass

The selection - 35 girls chosen from various classes and districts brought to a castle to be pampered and dated - is how the Prince of a post world war 3 dystopian kingdom selects his bride. Prince Maxon is preparing to rule the world while America, one of his bachelorettes, is a mouthy low born redhead who just wants to survive it. 

It's Hunger Games and Divergent mixed with the fluff of TV Bachelor in the style of Cinderella. It was catchy enough to (confession!) get me to read all three of the books. 

Buy The Selection Series On Amazon!


Happily Ever After - Trista Sutton

Remember Trista? She's the "godmother" of the Bachelorette show... Trista is one of the few who successfully turned made for television drama into a permanent stable happy relationship. She talks about how having a grateful attitude about life is her secret to success.  

It's basically a light, happy, sweet and positive book that will convince you to smile and say thank you more. 

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 

Heathcliff is madly in love with Catherine. Catherine marries Edgar. Edgar is the object of Heathcliff's intense hatred and plots of revenge. Its a love triangle extraordinaire. 

Drama, intrigue, unrequited love, and it all happens in a big mansion. 

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

2 Books That Will Inspire You to Run

I love to run (with audiobook, of course). I am not a great runner (3 miles max), I am not a fast runner (snail speed is a thing, right?), and I am not a Japanese genius or Mexican Indian (sad, I know). 

The great thing about running is that just about anyone who wants to can be a runner. It's easy to learn (hello, two years old), requires little or no equipment and can be done almost anywhere. Also, it prevents heart disease the number one killer of Americans, so... here is what inspires me to get up and go for a run. 


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

by Haruki Murakami

Hands down, one of the best books I read last year, this memoir/story/marathon training log still comes to mind whenever I put on my runners and hit the sidewalks.
This author by trade started running to stay healthy and progressed to accomplishing THE Athens to Marathon marathon, the New York City Marathon and an Ultramarathon in Japan.
He attributes running to fueling his writing, which is inspiration enough for any creative or wannabe creative person to give it a try.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

by Christopher McDougall

What books inspire you?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

3 Books That Might Just Make You A Better Person

Who is not interested in being a better human?

Getting ahead? Reaching goals?

Or at least seeing an improved version of the wonderful person you probably already are?
These books have the potential to help improve your memory, streamline and personalize your daily routines, and even increase mental clarity and decrease stress by helping you to de-clutter your life.  I've found them inspirational, conversation-starting and am confident that you will, at the very least, find them to be intriguing reads.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

by Mason Currey

I've been talking about this book basically nonstop since reading it. It's like looking through a window into the lives of famous and incredible creative people, and learning about the boring stuff that made their days so spectacular. Beethoven spent time each morning air bathing, Hemingway used a stand up desk, Louis Armstrong was addicted to laxatives.

Con: Only one or two pages per person!

Pro: You can read a mini-bio of someone's daily routine in a just a few minutes, imitate it or laugh at it, and then go on to talk about it for days, weeks, and maybe months afterward.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

by Marie Kondo

This book describes the "KonMari" method used by a professional declutterer, and the joys you might discover by using her methods to organize your home and your life!
Does it "spark joy"? Keep it!
Look at and feel nothing.... Toss it!
A philosophy that could be applied to so many things in life!!!

Con: It was a little slow starting for me, and seemed to demand a moderately overwhelming amount of work.

Pro: The promise of being a happier, smarter, less stressed and more healthy person!

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

by Joshua Foer

This is the story of a regular forget your car keys, where'd I put my coffee, what's his name, just-like-us man, who spent a year spent training for the U.S. Memory Championship. Instead of being like the average person who wastes forty days a year compensating for things they've forgotten, read this book, learn from this memory champion, and maybe even improve your own noggin.
Con: This guy spent 6+ hours a day working towards his goal... that's not a realistic schedule for most of us.
Pro: Self-help book that reads like a novel.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Same Place, Different Time

Lately I've thoroughly enjoyed being transported back to the 1880's, the 1930's as well as the 1940's. Each of the novels below are lovely, and expressive. The stories remind me of what my Grandmother's early days might have been like when she enjoyed the big city or a fun adventure, though perhaps drinking a bit less gin :-/ Sometimes, it's fun to time-travel, within the safe confines of the pages of a book, of course.










Against the Tide - Elizabeth Camden

Orphaned Lydia works in 1880's Boston as a (genius) translator where Bane, an annoying customer, insists upon disrupting her desk and interrupting her day. When she loses her job, Bane is there once again to offer her a position working with him, which eventually drags her into an unexpected adventure in fighting crime.
Could. Not. Put. It. Down.

Rules of Civility - Amor Towles

Katie Kontent and her roommate meet Tinker at a party in New York in the 1930's, and promptly both fall for him. Running from party to party, reading nothing but classics, sharing ready and strong opinions, and answering the many demands of her secretarial job, this girl is special though it takes a while for us all to figure that out.

Dramatic, glorious, and will make you want to put on heels and party.

  At the Water's Edge - Sara Gruen

Maddie is dragged away from 1940's New York to Scotland by her husband and his friend in their hunt to finally discover the elusive Loch Ness monster, and save their non-soldier dignity. While the men are off each day to find the monster, she makes friends and enemies, runs from wartime bombs and eventually discovers who she is and wants to become.

Mildly devastating, but oh so fun.


Where have you time-traveled to lately? Do share.