Short Reviews of Long Books

So the summer definitely took me away from the computer.  I did not post nearly as often as I had intended (though, to be fair, I had grand aspirations about daily posts), but I read far more than I thought possible.  This bookworm was apparently verrrrry hungry.

Here’s the thing.  I would love to do a beautiful, happy post for every book read or movie viewed over the summer, but I’m not going to.  It’s too overwhelming.  In fact, it has kept me quiet for the past week as I struggle to even begin talking about my summer.  Instead, I will give you a description of the book or movie in under 11 words or less and my thoughts in 20 words or less.  Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.

The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Lee.

Summary: Sad woman and sadder man have affair in Hong Kong.

Thoughts: This historical backdrop (Hong Kong during WWII) was intriguing, but I didn’t like any of the characters.  Meh.

The Twilight Saga Collection by Stephenie Meyer

Summary: Bella must choose between creepy vampire and not-as-creepy-but-still-superhuman werewolf Jacob.

Thoughts: It teaches teenagers that the best kind of love is obsessive, controlling, and dangerous.  No thank you.

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Summary: 3 witches, one a fairy godmother, must stop a happy ending.

Thoughts: Hilarious.  This is my first Pratchett novel and I now want to read the entire Discworld series.

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Summary: 3 photographers and their relationships as they photograph the Vietnam war.

Thoughts: Well-written and intricate storylines.  The background and the characters are fascinating.  I want to study photography, or go to Vietnam.

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal

Summary: Sweet valley twins, 10 years later.  Sex, betrayal, and swearing.

Thoughts: So bad.  I read it because I loved the series.  It makes no sense and I hated both twins.

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Summary: Love triangle in Greece during WWII.

Thoughts: Loved it with 15 pages to go.  Then almost threw it across the room.  Still love it.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Summary: Follows two friends through school, love, and duplicity.

Thoughts: I may have used up an entire tissue box on this.  Read it if you want a good cry.

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mirielle Guiliano

Summary: The title pretty much says it all.

Thoughts: Commonsense advice aside from drinking leek broth for three days and purchase enough champagne to have at every dinner.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (for the fifth time, at least)

Summary: Big brother knows all.

Thoughts: Love it.  Love it.  Love love love love it.  It gets better with every read.  Read it.

 

Phew!  Now that I have those out of the way, I can get back to posting on what I am reading right now!  Trust me, I have an awesome one coming up 🙂

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Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes

The chocolate centre flows like dark lava onto the whiteness of the plate. The last ounce of stress drains from my body…. I have discovered the French version of Death by Chocolate.’ Part love story, part wine-splattered cookbook, Lunch in Paris is a deliciously tart, forthright and funny story of falling in love with a Frenchman and moving to the world’s most romantic city – not the Hollywood version, but the real Paris, a heady mix of blood sausage and irregular verbs. From gutting her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen) and battling bad-tempered butchers to discovering heavenly chocolate shops, Elizabeth Bard finds that learning to cook and building a new life as a stranger in an even stranger land have a lot in common. Along the way she learns the true meaning of home – and the real reason French women don’t get fat … Peppered with recipes to die for, this mouth-watering love story is the perfect treat for any woman who has ever suspected that lunch in Paris could change her life.

– Back Cover

Now, if you have been reading at all lately, you will have noticed two important things.

  1. My posting speed is slowing to a trickle.  I suppose the reason for that is this pesky problem called “life.”  I have started taking night classes so I now officially work full time, take night classes, maintain my blog (meaning that I have to continue reading and cooking), and keep up some sort of social life so that I don’t go completely insane.  I decided I would rather have fewer posts of quality that I can be proud of, rather than many icky posts.
  2. I have already posted about my dining experiences in Paris.  What do I have to talk about now?

Well, I’m going to tell you. Continue reading

Living The Sweet Life in Paris

Croque Madame: Ham and cheese, more cheese, and an egg on top!

A few weeks ago, I spent some time in my favorite city in the world (so far): Paris.

I had been there twice before, once for a high school trip and the other for a more extended study-abroad program.  I adored it both times and dreamt of a time that I could return.

Last August, I decided that since I actually had my life planned far enough ahead of time to book plane tickets, I would schedule my Parisian adventures for my school’s April break.

While I have seen all of the “touristy”  parts of Paris, I wanted to tackle all of the hidden gems that the locals know about and keep secret from us foreigners.

Nutella Crepe for the Latin Quarter

I turned to David Lebovitz, American expatriot in Paris, who has authored several cookbooks as well as the man behind the popular blog davidlebovitz.com.

Like me, he has a keen interest in food and has explored Paris by following his nose to the best bakeries, pastry shops, and bistros.

When I am not in Paris, I live vicariously through him.  When I am there, I follow his recommendations.

A few years back, he penned the book The Sweet Life in Paris.  In this book, he spins tales of Paris, its people, and (perhaps best of all) its food.  I love this book.

Continue reading

My Favorite Things: Part 3

Spring Flowers

When flowers start to bloom, I know that Spring is finally here.  When I think of this season, I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, smell suntan lotion, taste cold smoothies and smell grilled food.  When I walk out in the morning to my car, the moisture of the dew in the air tickles my skin.  The echoes of kids playing outside begin to permeate the background noise of my daily life.

This is what flashes in my mind when I see the first tulips of the season.

I have always loved tulips.  Perhaps I was first drawn to them because they were easy to tell apart from other kinds of flowers and even easier to doodle (which, for a poor artist, is saying something…).

My love for them renewed on my first trip to Paris, 7 years ago now, when I saw that the city adorned itself with them.  From then on, tulips were linked in my head with Paris, my favorite city in the world.

This past visit to Paris, I took my fair share of photos of Parisian tulips and other flowers.  Here are some of them:

Of course, it seems like every rose (or tulip) has its thorn. This time of the year, when all of the flowers bloom, is the one time that I really experience allergies. Every morning, I wake up feeling like I’m inside a bubble that mutes all of my sense AND applies pressure to my head. Great.

For some reason, that does not stop me. This past week found me tromping through a park to take a look at the local tulips that are currently blooming. Did I feel well the next morning? No. Did I regret it? No.

Some sights are just worth it.

My Favorite Things: Part 1

I find joy in many aspects of life, most of which are rather tiny.  Sure, my main sources of happiness derive from family, friends, job,etc., but the tiny pinpricks of true, unexpected delight excite me the most.

Every weekend, I am going to highlight for you something (or several somethings) from the past week that has given my life a small but mighty burst of sunlight.

Favorite Thing # 1:  Breakfasts in Paris

Yes, I spent the last week in Paris and my life was a whirlwind of trying to remember my French, going everywhere I haven’t already been, spending time with my mom and an awesome friend, and…well…eating.

Continue reading