Jun 24, 2023

I'll Never Be French by Mark Greenside: Sunday Salon

Currently reading -

a book from my shelves that I rescued from my give away boxes. Why didn't I read this when I first got it? It's funny and informative, and very French!
Published: November 4, 2008; Atria
Genre: travel, memoir, nonfiction, humor, France

Mark Greenside and his girlfriend decide to live in a small French village in Brittany for about eight weeks. Mark fell in love with the place, the people, the customs, the food, and was encouraged by a neighbor to buy a house there. 

I'm enjoying his humor in telling the story of his growing love for Brittany and all things French, and the pitfalls of a foreigner trying to buy a home, open a bank account, and pay for a mortgage in France. 

I'm reading this in English, the author's language, but the memoir reminded me of the excellent French novels I've read over the years by mystery author, Michel Bussi. 

Here are a few I've read:


I finished a mystery set in Claude Monet's Givenchy, Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi, February 7, 2017, Hachette. Translated from the French. I enjoyed it so much, I went on to read a previous novel of his, After the Crash, a mystery set in the Jura mountains of France.

My comments: After the Crash has an amazing plot. The only survivor in a horrific plane crash in the Jura mountains of France is a three-month-old baby girl. She was one of two baby girls of the same age on the plane, and none of the four parents survived the crash. 

There is no way to identify the baby, in the days before DNA testing was available. Two sets of grandparents claim her, the wealthy de Carvilles, and a working class family, the Vitrals.

The court awards the child to the Vitrals, but Mrs. de Carvilles hires a private detective to prove the baby Lyse-Rose is really hers, and not Emilie, the Vitrals's child. She gives the detective eighteen years to prove the case. The baby grows up to be called Lylie, a combination of both names, Lyse-Rose and Emilie, as neither family is one hundred percent sure who the child really is.

The book follows the two families and Lylie as she grows up, the story given in a detailed notebook written over eighteen years by the detective, Credule Grand-Duc. What he discovers after eighteen years is stunning. There are plot twists that makes riveting reading. I enjoyed it very much.

Black Water Lilies/Les Lympheas Noir by Michel Bussi, February 7, 2017, Hachette. Translated from the French.
Genre; mystery, crime novel

This is an unusual crime novel set in Giverny, France, the town made famous by the artist Claude Monet and his water lilies. The lives of an old woman,  an attractive young teacher, and an 11-year-old girl intertwine in a mystery involving art, artists, talent, Monet's water lilies, and romantic as well as an obsessive love that change their lives. 

I enjoyed the mystery as well as learned a lot about Monet and Giverny, and found interesting the rendition of how he created his famous water lily paintings. 


translated from the French

Don't Let Go/Ne lâche pas ma main by Michel Bussi
Published March 7, 2013. Pocket 
Genre; mystery, suspense, Reunion

It was challenging reading this in French, before the English edition was printed, but I enjoyed the suspenseful plot, the description of Reunion, a beautiful mountainous island in the Indian Ocean, and the main character, a gutsy young policewoman.

Publisher: On an idyllic resort on the island of Réunion, Parisians Martial and Liane Bellion are enjoying the perfect family moment with their six-year-old daughter....Then Liane Bellion disappears from her hotel room. Her husband Martial becomes a suspect when blood is found in the room. But then Martial also disappears, along with his daughter. An all-out manhunt is declared across the island. 

Just published: 

Trois Vies Par Semaine by Michel Bussi
Publication: March 2, 2023; Presses de la Cite
Language: French
Genre: thriller, mystery, France

About: the body of a man is recovered in the Ardennes,  his car containing three different passports suggesting he had three different aliases. The police must determine if his death was suicide, an accident, or murder and try to discover the truth behind his triple lives.  

What books are you reading? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Jun 17, 2023

Sunday Salon: Bookish Books Reading Challenge 2023


Blogging About Books has started the Bookish Books Reading Challenge 2023. The focus is on reviewing only books whose main themes are related to books! Read host Susan's description here.  

I can think of 
 Carlos Ruiz Zafon and the four books in his series, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books: The Shadow of the Wind (review), The Angel's GameThe Prisoner of Heaven (review), and The Labyrinth of the Spirits.  

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. And The Book Thief are others.

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, published September 2015 by Harper is all about writing books, namely your memories. 

Book's beginning, Ch. 1, The Past's Vigor

At unexpected points in life, everyone gets waylaid by the colossal force of recollection. One minute you're a grown-ass woman, then a whiff of cumin conjures your dad's curry, and a whole door to the past blows open, ushering an uncanny detail. There are traumatic memories that ride u unbidden and dwarf you where you stand. But there are also memories you dig for: you start with a clear fix on a tiny instant, and pick at every knot until a thin thread comes undone that you can follow back through the mind's labyrinth to other places. We''ve all interrogated ourselves -- It couldn't have been Christmas because we had shorts on in the snapshot. Such memories start by being figured out, but the useful ones eventually gain enough traction to haul you through the past. 

IThe Art of Memoir, Mary Karr synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre. (publisher)


This is a book for bibliophiles, readers, reviewers, and those who collect books. It's also for those who don't read and are sceptical about the value of books.

And contemporary romantic comedy with a book loving heroine: Book Lovers (review) by Emily Henry. The main theme is romance, but books feature prominently.  

Setting for a romance: Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. On vacation, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. (publisher)

What bookish books have you read or are reading? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Jun 10, 2023

Sunday Salon: No Two Persons: Stories by Erica Bauermeister, and Two Thrillers

 Not much reading done this past week, but I finished one and started on two new books. 

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister

Publication: May 2, 2023; St. Martin's Press, NetGalley
Genre: literary fiction, contemporary fiction, adult fiction 

My comments:

No Two Persons - the premise is that no two people will ever read the same book. In other words, a book will affect different readers in different ways.
This is a series of stories about various readers of a book written by an introverted young woman, Alice Weir. The book, Theo, tells of a young boy surviving a childhood with a strict and abusive father.

The vignettes in the novel show this one book altering different people's perspectives and actions. The characters in the stories are all going through some conflict at the time they read the book. One I remember used the book as part of her artwork. She was the only character that didn't actually read the book, however.

Overall, the stories are of interesting personalities who find some inspiration or message in a story that helps them in dissimilar situations. 

On a thriller binge, I'm currently reading:

What the Neighbors Saw by Melissa Adelman, 
Publication: June 20, 2023; Minotaur Books
Genre: adult fiction, mystery and thriller 

PublisherSometimes the darkest acts occur in the most beautiful houses…

When Alexis and her husband Sam buy a neglected Cape Cod house in an exclusive DC suburb, they are ecstatic. Sam is on the cusp of making partner at his law firm, Alexis is pregnant with their second child, and their glamorous neighbors welcome the couple with open arms. Things are looking up, and Alexis believes she can finally leave her troubled past behind.

But the neighborhood’s picture-perfect image is shattered when their neighbor Teddy – a handsome, successful father of three – is found dead on the steep banks of the Potomac River. The community is shaken, and as the police struggle to identify and apprehend the killer, tension in the neighborhood mounts and long-buried secrets start to emerge.

I'm Not Done With You Yet by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Publication: August 22, 2023; Berkley
Genre: adult fiction, mystery and thriller 

Publisher: Some friends—and friendships—are worth killing for in this dark, twisty suspense novel by national bestselling author Jesse Q. Sutanto.

Jane is unhappy.  A struggling midlist writer whose novels barely command four figures, she feels trapped in an underwhelming marriage, just scraping by to pay a crippling Bay Area mortgage for a house—a life—she's never really wanted. 

There's only ever been one person she cared about, one person who truly understood her: Thalia. Jane's best and only friend nearly a decade ago during their Creative Writing days at Oxford. Now, years later, Thalia comes back into her life. 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Jun 7, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday: Three New ARCs


Can't Wait Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings, highlights books you are eager to read 

Here are a few that came in the mail that I've not yet started. The book descriptions are from the publishers.

by Leonie Swann
Publication: August 29, 2023; Soho Crime ARC

A quirky group of seniors attempts to solve one murder while covering up another—with the help of an enterprising tortoise—in this twisty, darkly funny mystery from the author of Three Bags Full

I Hear You're Rich: Stories by Diane Williams
Publication: August 10, 2023; Scribe UK

In Williams’ stories, life is newly alive and dangerous; whether she is writing about an affair, a request for money, an afternoon in a garden, or the simple act of carrying a cake from one room to the next, she offers us beautiful and unsettling new ways of seeing everyday life.

Second Best by David Foenkinos, Megan Jones translator
Publication: September 7, 2023; Gallic Books

A fictional boy's life is shaped forever when he loses out on the role of Harry Potter. It's 1999. Martin Hill is ten years old.... he makes it to the final two in the casting for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. When the other boy is picked, a devastated Martin tries to move on with his life. But how can he escape his failure, especially when it's the most famous film series in the world?  

A playful, poignant story about fate, loss and how the lives we wish we’d led might not be all they’re cracked up to be . 

What books are you eagerly anticipating? 

Jun 4, 2023

Sunday Salon: Two Books for AAPI and Two Suspense Novels

 Two more books for AAPI Heritage Month and Beyond...and two new thrillers

The Queens of New York by E.L. Shen

Publication: June 6, 2023; Quill Tree Books
Genre: Young Adult, Asian American Literature, romance

Three young Asian American friends in New York are pondering their future after high school. They are from different ethnicities, but that this does not affect their friendship - Jia is Chinese; Everett is Vietnamese; and Ariel is South Korean- but they are in fact, all New Yorkers.

I found the themes intriguing and timely: Everett experiences discrimination and stereotyping of Asians at a theater production in Ohio; Ariel helps her family by discovering the details of the sudden death of her adventurous and non-traditional older sister in Korea;' and Jia decides whether her future will be separate from her restaurant owning Chinese family. What is heartwarming about this novel is how the three band together to support each other in their crises, and how they help solve Everett's soul crushing experience in Ohio.

I was surprised by the novel, in a good way, as the cover of the book prepared me for a different kind of story.

Publication: May 9, 2023; Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: romance, Chick Lit, contemporary fiction

An enjoyable Chick Lit romance set in Toronto and Seoul, with stressed out lawyer Ariadne Hui connecting with her roommate's cousin, Choi Jihoon, who turns out to be South Korea's most famous contemporary star.

That Ariadne doesn't know who Choi really is adds to the drama of the story, and their romance leaves the reader wondering how things will end for two people from such different worlds. The romantic suspense was worth the read, also the info about how stars can be overwhelmed by their young fans and how they protect themselves while catering to their young audience.

I'm back to reading thrillers!

The New Mother by Nora Murphy 

Published: May 30, 2023; Minotaur
Genre: thriller, suspense, mystery, contemporary, adult 

I was impatient with Nat, the new mother, who is exasperated with the new baby - his sleeplessness, his crying, his demands to be fed every two hours. I could understand her frustration, but thought she was over-reacting.

When she accepts her neighbor's friendship and help, stay-at-home dad Paul, she seemed overly clinging and needy, especially when her husband made partner at his law firm and she can think only of how she misses her own law career.

I was prepared to dislike her and the novel all the way through. What changed my mind? The last part of the story was worth reading the first half, as putting up with a clearly unraveling new mother paved the way for a very good ending.

I changed from a 3 star rating to a 4-5.

Published May 30, 2023; Avid Reader Press
Genre: suspense, thriller, adult 

This was an exciting thriller that started when an airplane with over 90 people on board crashes and sinks into the Pacifie Ocean near the Hawaiian islands. The main characters are a small family - Will and his young daughter, Shannon ,and his estranged wife, professional diver Chris - around whose personal lives the drama revolves.

Suspenseful, unpredictable, and filled with many other interesting personalities under extreme stress, the novel looks at human nature and the behavior of individuals facing difficult situations.  It also deals with the physical obstacles in trying to save the passengers trapped under water.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this nail biting adventure.

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Jun 2, 2023

Book Tour: Long Enough to Love You by Kirsten Pursell

 Book Tour

About Long Enough to Love You by Kirsten Pursell

Publisher: Atmosphere Press (January 1, 2023)

Paperback: 252 pages

A coming-of-middle-age novel that challenges the assumption that the status quo is as good as it gets.

A love story of self, of past, of present, of future. One woman’s journey to put the pieces of her life together in the most meaningful way — at times chaotic, at times cathartic, but ultimately beautiful in all its imperfect pieces.

Jenn, fifty-something and empty-nesting, feels like a donut: whole on the outside but missing the middle. The deafening sound of silence in the picture-perfect, oversized home she shares with a husband who does not see her makes the voices arguing in her head hard to ignore. One voice tells her to stay because safe and simple is good; another says leave so you can be the version of yourself not defined by others. The thought of ever after without happily feels like purgatory.

The chance discovery of her long-forgotten diaries unearths memories of a first love long buried, reminders that the most beautiful love is sometimes wasted on the young. Her words become a very real reminder of everything first love had been when she reconnects with Tripp in unexpected ways.

Long Enough to Love You by Kirsten Pursell follows Jenn – a courageous yet vulnerable protagonist – as she dissects and unpacks her marriage in an emotional journey to stay true to herself despite societal norms and middle-age stereotypes that would suggest otherwise.

My comments:

I found that Jenn, in her mid-50s, a new empty nester, became entranced with the freedom that she finds opening up before her. Her re-examining of an unsatisfactory marriage, the death of her mother, and finding her old diaries, have also prompted her to want to spread her wings.

Her attempts to recapture her youthful past might be considered risque in at least one event. That she has a happy landing in her search for happiness is the reader's hope and it seems she will. 

Women in a similar position as Jenn will find her story inspiring and cheer her on towards the happy ending and a second chance at love. 

About the Author

Kirsten Pursell is an American author and sometime blogger. She lives in Oceanside, California. In addition to On Becoming Me: Memoir of an 80’s Teenager, she has published two additional novels: Harvard and Company Clown. Her 4th novel, Long Enough to Love You, a women’s coming-of-middle-age contemporary fiction novel that chronicles one woman’s journey as she challenges the assumption the status quo is as good as it gets in middle-age and explores the reality we are never too old to find happiness and maybe even love later in life. Her books were downloaded over 10,000 times in 2022

Lisa Munley, TLC Book Tours

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