Jul 29, 2023

WWII Novels: The Last Masterpiece and The Forgotten Bookshop of Paris

 TBR List

I couldn't resist these WWII historical novels, since I love Morelli's other historical novels on art and any novel with the word Bookstore in the title 

Publication, August 1, 2023 by William Morrow & Company

Genre: WWII, historical fiction, art history novel, Italy

In a race across Nazi-occupied Italy, two women—a German photographer and an American stenographer—hunt for priceless masterpieces looted from the Florentine art collections.

In 1943, Eva Brunner is taking photographs of Nazi-looted art hidden in the salt mines of the Austrian hinterland. Across the ocean in Connecticut, Josephine Evans is working as a humble typist at the Yale Art Gallery.

When both women are called to Italy to contribute to the war effort, neither imagines she will hold the fate of some of the world’s greatest masterpieces torn from the Uffizi Galleries and other Florentine art collections in her hands.

My review of The Last Masterpiece on Goodreads and NetGalley.

The Forgotten Bookshop in Paris by Daisy Wood

Published October 22, 2022, Avon Books UK

Genre: historical fiction, WWII, Paris

From an exciting new voice in WWII historical fiction comes a tale of love, loss and a betrayal that echoes through generations…

Paris, 1940: War is closing in on the city of love. With his wife forced into hiding, Jacques must stand by and watch as the Nazis take away everything he holds dear. Everything except his last beacon of hope: his beloved bookshop, La Page Cachée.

But when a young woman and her child knock on his door one night and beg for refuge, he knows his only option is to risk it all once more to save a life…

See my review of The Forgotten Bookshop in Paris on Goodreads. 


The Wide World by Pierre Lemaitre

To be published December 5, 2023; Little Brown and Company


The sweeping saga of one prominent French family in postwar Paris, Beirut, and Saigon—an electrifying novel of passion, greed, murder, and revenge....Epic in scope, a vivid depiction of French life in the booming postwar years. (publisher)

What's on your reading schedule this week and/or the rest of the month?injuly202

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Jul 22, 2023

Sunday Salon: Soon to be Published Asian Literature

 What I'm reading

Nails and Eyes by Kaori Fujino
Publication: September 12, 2023; Pushkin Press
Genre: horror, novella and short stories, Japan


Tense, subtly disturbing Japanese literary horror perfect for fans of Tender is the Flesh and The Vegetarian

An unforgettably creepy child narrator weaves uncanny tales about her new stepmother in this feminist horror novella + short story collection that introduces a unique new voice in Japanese literature. (publisher)

This is not my usual genre to read, but I'm curious about what a Japanese author has written for a "feminist horror novella."

Publication: December 5, 2023; Ecco
Genre: Cambodian-American literature, essays, stories

A collection of sharply funny, emotionally expansive essays and short fiction exploring family, queer desire, pop culture, and race. Author So explores community, grief, and longing with inimitable humor and depth. (publisher)

“one of the most exciting contributions to Asian American literature in recent years” (Vulture"An astonishing final expression by a writer of “extraordinary achievement and immense promise” (The New Yorker).

I read his short story collection, Afterparties,  and was very impressed by his vibrant and vivid depiction of the Cambodian community in a Southern California town.

Anthony Veasna So was a graduate of Stanford University and earned his MFA in fiction at Syracuse University. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, n+1, Granta, and ZYZZYVA.

What's on your reading schedule this week and/or the rest of the month?prisinjuly2023

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

Jul 18, 2023

Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge

 For Paris in July 2023 Reading Challenge 

Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge, audiobook narrated by Polly Lee
Published April 25, 2023; Kensington
Genre: mystery, historical

I was so delighted with this audiobook about a post-WWII murder mystery in Paris, that I gave it five stars. First of all, the narrator was excellent; her French accents were perfect, as was her American accents. And the story's interest includes budding chef, Julia Child, during her early days in France taking cooking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu.

Julia, along with her fictional friend, Tabatha, and Tabatha's French grandfather and uncle, all collaborate, if only by offering tips, to solve the murder of a woman found murdered in the cellar of Julia's building. Tabitha does most of the sleuthing and investigating, taking risks to discover the truth about the murdered woman, whom she had met briefly after Julia's dinner party.

The plot of the story is also very well thought out. The setting of Paris and the time period just after the war are all important in this mystery. In addition, stories of Julia's cooking and her efforts to perfect her homemade mayonnaise add interest to this French mystery novel. (Hint: use warmed bowls to make the mayonnaise.)

I don't have a Julia Child cookbook, but I did learn how to make a simple omelet, French style, with butter and herbs. I tried it and it was delicious. What a difference cooking with butter makes!

Jul 15, 2023

Murder Visits a French Village by Susan C. Shea: Sunday Salon and July in Paris Challenge


Murder Visits a French Village by Susan C. Shea, published March 7, 2023, Severn House

Genre: cozy mystery, France, Burgundy

About: Ariel Shepard is devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, but nothing could have prepared her for inheriting the rundown French château they'd visited on their honeymoon four years ago. With finances tight she has no choice but to swap her Manhattan apartment and city lifestyle for a renovation project in a peaceful French village. (publisher)

I was in the mood for a cozy mystery and found this one on my ebook shelf. It's a good choice as it also is set in France, which makes it a candidate for the July in Paris 2023 Challenge.

I enjoyed the book, even though much of it has to do with renovations and rebuilding, as so many stories of expats in France do. The chateau is old, but Ariel's husband secretly bought it for her some time before he died, leaving her to do all the changes by herself. She finds it a refreshing challenge, nevertheless.

Of course, there are other expats and many French people who work on the chateau. But this book is a mystery, not a travel memoir, and  there is a murder on the chateau grounds that Ariel has to solve. The mystery also involves the French laws of inheritance, which gives any offspring of the owner, legitimate or otherwise, the right of inheritance. The question remains whether or not Ariel legally owns the chateau, or if there is a son or daughter somewhere who would be the rightful owner. 

As she is a widow, Ariel had me waiting for a new romance to show up, but it turns out her real loves are the chateau and the memory of her deceased husband.

An enjoyable cozy, overall, but the wrap up takes some time. A four-star read overall. 

What's on your reading schedule this week and/or the rest of the month?#prisinjuly2023

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox MondayParis in July 2023

Jul 13, 2023

A Paris Odyssey by Axel Forrester: July in Paris 2023 Challenge

 For Paris in July 2023 Reading Challenge 

A Paris Odyssey by Axel Forrester
Published April 1, 2023; NetGalley
Genre: travel fiction, Paris, France
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At first I thought this was a memoir, the details sounded to true and the narrator so authentic. Then I realized that the book was actually fiction - a novel about Grant the photographer on his first trip to Paris, written by a female author! This really didn't matter, in the long run.

The details of how Grant is robbed by professional pickpockets of his wallet, passport, and other IDs, and how easy it was to have them replaced at the American Embassy, rang so true. I had heard about pickpockets in all the major cities of the world.

I enjoyed the character's candid comments on visiting the famed catacombs, the underground tunnels of Paris filled with human bones from over the centuries. It's a place I have decided I'd never visit, as I hate anything speaking of horror!

The visit to the Louvre was also interesting, especially as Grant was in the company of a motley crew of street impersonators whom he spent most of his time with during his three to four week stay in Paris.

The people he decided to hang out with on the streets of Paris - the impersonators - seemed to be not only bizarre, but almost homeless, and Grant had to feed them most of the time. They seemed unreal yet authentic at the same time, and I wonder how much of what the author wrote in this novel is close to the truth of the streets of Paris, away from the tourist spots.

An enjoyable read, nevertheless, so much so I've decided to read Forrester's previous novel, A Chinese Odyssey.

Jul 12, 2023

Resource for Living, Traveling, Visiting, Vacationing in France: The Good Life in France

For Paris in July 2023 Reading Challenge. 

Author of three books on living in France, Janine Marsh has gone on to produce the magazine, blog, podcast, weekly newsletter entitled The Good Life France.

All the images on their website are protected, so I can't show any of them here, but the informative site is well worth at least a couple of visits. 

Her books:

My Good Life in France: Book 1 of 3 by Janine Marsh, published August 25, 2017
Genre: travel, memoir, biography, France

About: One grey dismal day, Janine Marsh was on a trip to northern France to pick up some cheap wine. She returned to England a few hours later having put in an offer on a rundown old barn in the rural Seven Valleys area of Pas de Calais. This was not something she’d expected or planned for.

 Janine eventually gave up her job in London to move with her husband to live the good life in France. Or so she hoped. While getting to grips with the locals and la vie Française, and renovating her dilapidated new house, a building lacking the comforts of mains drainage, heating, or proper rooms, and with little money and less of a clue, she started to realize there was lot more to her new home than she could ever have imagined.

 These are the true tales of Janine’s rollercoaster ride through a different culture—one that, to a Brit from the city, was in turns surprising, charming, and not the least bit baffling. (publisher)

See The Good Life France podcasts for a colorful and informative look at France.

Beginning French by Les Americains: July in Paris 2023 Challenge

  Paris in July 2023 Reading Challenge. My first contribution.  #

xxx Bego
I was delighted to find this book hidden in my NetGalley shelf, perfect for the July in Paris 2023 Reading Title: Beginning French: Lessons from a Stone Farmhouse by Les Americains, published June 1, 2016

.I was delighted to find this book hidden in my NetGalley shelf, perfect for the July in Paris 2023 Reading Challenge I just joined.

Things may have changed since 2016 when this book was published, and I'm glad to see the archive date for this book has not yet been set on NetGalley!

I laughed out loud many times at Marty's wit in telling his story of finding and fixing and living in a stone house in Dordogne, France. The multiple fixes the old house required would have made others sell the house and move home to the U.S, permanently, but Marty and his wife persisted because of the million dollar views the house afforded.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the night markets in neighboring towns, the food, the camaraderie and the stories of the helpfulness of the French people in giving advice and fixing the old house time and again over the years. I also was amazed that there are so many English, Canadian, Australians and American expats who live full time or part time in France.

The book made me want to experience what the authors did, at least on a visit sometime.

The authors:
Les Américains is the nom de plume of Eileen McKenna and Marty Neumeier, an American couple who divide their time between California and France. Eileen is the kind of person who can predict an entire plot from the first line of a novel or the first scene in a movie. Marty is a design consultant who has written six bestselling books on innovation, creativity, and branding. Their daughter Sara, who appears in Beginning French and contributes the recipes, is a New York food stylist who began her career at Martha Stewart Living. The trois Américains meet every summer in France—to cook, write, and share photos and travel tips with their followers. (2016)

Take a virtual walk in Paris: A Walk in Paris on YouTube.

Paris in July 2023 Reading Challenge. stime.

Jul 10, 2023

It's Monday: What Are You Reading? My Nemesis by Charmaine Craig

 Newly Discovered book:

 I was interested in the different versions of what is acceptable femininity.  

My Nemesis by Charmaine Craig
Published February 7, 2023; Grove Press

Publisher information:

An intellectual affair and its reverberations across the lives of two couples

Tessa, a successful writer, develops a friendship with Charlie, a  handsome philosopher and scholar based in Los Angeles. Sparks fly as they exchange intellectual ideas —but there are obstacles to their developing friendship. 

Tessa’s husband Milton enjoys Charlie’s company, while Charlie’s Asian wife Wah’s traditional femininity and subservience strike Tessa as weaknesses. Tessa scoffs at the sacrifices Wah makes as adoptive mother to a Burmese girl, Htet, once homeless on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. The conflict leads to Tessa’s declaration that Wah is “an insult to womankind.” 

An exercise in empathy, an exploration of betrayal, and a charged story of the thrill of a shared connection—and the perils of feminine rivalry—

Charmaine Craig
is the author of My Nemesis; Miss Burma, longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction; and The Good Men, a national bestseller. She received her MFA from the University of California at Irvine, and is a faculty member in the Department of Creative Writing at UC Riverside. 

Jul 8, 2023

Paris in July, 2023 Reading Challenge: Sunday Salon

 Words and Peace is hosting the Paris in July 2023 Reading Challenge. ##parisinjuly2023parisinjuly2023

Paris in July 2023
(Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest)

During this month,
our goal is to embrace and honor our French encounters
by immersing ourselves in various activities
like reading, watching, listening, observing, cooking,
and indulging in all things French

The books I've chosen for the challenge and the descriptions from NetGalley/publishers

A Bakery in Paris

Historical novel set in nineteenth-century and post–World War II Paris follows two fierce women of the same family, generations apart, who find that their futures lie in the four walls of a simple bakery in a tiny corner of Montmartre. (publication August 30, 2023)

The Paris Assignment

A courageous wife, mother, and resister confronts the devastation of World War II in a heartbreaking and hopeful novel by the bestselling author of The Venice Sketchbook and The Tuscan Child. (publication August 2023)

The Paris Mystery

Intrepid reporter Charlotte "Charlie" James arrives in Paris in 1938 eager to make a fresh start, but little does she know the trouble that awaits her...

On the summer solstice eve, the Circus Ball is in full swing, with the Parisian elites entranced by burlesque dancers, tightrope walkers, a jazz band . . . and a horrific murder. A wealthy but unscrupulous investor is dead, and the list of suspects is a veritable who's who of le haut monde. As Charlie tries to determine who the murderer is, she finds herself drawn into the magical parties, couture houses, and bohemian wine bars of the City of Lights. ( publication September 2023)

A Paris Odyssey

Genre: novel, travel, France

American Grant Decker is in Paris on a photography assignment.

When he arrives at Gare du Nord train station, he discovers just how unprepared he is to navigate this new world where the language is both vaguely familiar and baffling. ‘”Vous ne parlez pas français?” My brain turned around three times and then went to sleep!’

Determined to get his bearings, Grant explores the length and breadth of the city on the metro. But it is when he makes new friends among some street performers that he discovers a different Paris. These off-beat characters help him sharpen his eye and open his heart to the many love stories that weave through ‘the city of light.’  (published April 2023)

A provocative and stylish literary noir about two female war correspondents whose fates intertwine in Europe.

Paris, 1938. Mielle, a shy pacifist and shunned Mennonite who struggles to fit in with the elite cohort of foreign correspondents stationed around the city; the other, Jane, a brash, legendary American journalist, who is soon to become a fascist propagandist. (publication November 2023)

My book choices: These are ARCs that are on my TBR list. Some have yet to be published. The Paris Odyssey was published in April and is the only nonfiction, and not set during the war. 

I will be trying to read some but maybe not all of the books for the challenge. #p#parisinjuly2023arisinjuly2023

What's on your reading schedule this week and/or the rest of the month?#parisinjuly2023

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday. Paris in July 2023

Jul 1, 2023

The Which of Shakespeare's Why by Leigh Light: Sunday Salon

After last week's Sunday post, I've been rereading the three books I featured there by Michel Bussi, French thriller writer, and have neglected all my TBRs. I'm almost finished (good reading all over again), and have to decide my next read. 

I've been ignoring the library as I have a stuffed Kindle, full of the ARCs I have to read. 

 In the meantime, a more literary novel came in the mail yesterday: 

The Which of Shakespeare's Why: A Novel of the Authorship Mystery Near Solution Today, by Leigh Light, publication September 19, 2023, City Point Press. 

The book dallies with the age old premise that the real Shakespeare could have been Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, an Elizabethan peer and courtier  (1550-1604)

 The controversy over who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays has been around almost since they were written. Was the genius behind the plays really that obscure glover’s son from Stratford? Or was it someone else entirely—a man whose class, background, education, and peculiarities make him a more than plausible candidate?

In The Which of Shakespeare’s Why, a 21st-century playwright named Harry Haines makes the case for a major contender via a play he himself is writing for a struggling New Jersey theatre company. Faced with strong disapproval from the “Stratfordites” and with the backing of supporters that sometimes takes some unusual forms, Harry attempts, against great odds, to get the play written and staged.

In the process he has to overcome his own doubts, stay on the right side of the right people, keep his romantic life under control, and deal with not only a difficult actress or two but a flock of opinionated Rockettes. Part hilarious farce, part serious critical examination, The Which of Shakespeare’s Why provides a thought-provoking look at a controversial puzzle with a surprising, ingenious, and wholly satisfying ending that Shakespeare—whoever he was—would have given a standing ovation.

Would you pick up this new novel about the Shakespeare controversy? 

Thanks to Wiley Sachek Publicity for a review/feature copy of this  intriguing book. 

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

Empresses of Seventh Avenue by Nancy MacDonell: Historical Novel

 Fashion in Paris and New York City during WWII   Empresses of Seventh Avenue World War II, New York City, and the Birth of American Fashion...