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Friday, July 27, 2018

5 Books I Want to Read: Provence

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 3191. Yikes.

I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

I have visited Paris and loved it, so it is only natural that I would gravitate to other books set in France. Provence is on my bucket list for traveling, so here are 5 books set there.

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The Provence Cure for the Broken-Hearted by Bridget Asher

Brokenhearted and still mourning the loss of her husband, Heidi travels with Abbott, her obsessive-compulsive seven-year-old son, and Charlotte, her jaded sixteen-year-old niece, to the small village of Puyloubier in the south of France, where a crumbling stone house may be responsible for mending hearts since before World War II.

There, Charlotte confesses a shocking secret, and Heidi learns the truth about her mother’s “lost summer” when Heidi was a child. As three generations collide with one another, with the neighbor who seems to know all of their family skeletons, and with an enigmatic Frenchman, Heidi, Charlotte, and Abbot journey through love, loss, and healing amid the vineyards, warm winds and delicious food of Provence. Can the magic of the house heal Heidi’s heart, too?.

The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell

Present day, San Francisco. During her free time, professional photographer Cady Drake shoots local carousels, a hobby inspired by a gift that transformed her childhood: a wooden rabbit supposedly created by master French carver Gustave Bayol a century ago. And when she's offered a freelance assignment for a book on the antique merry-go-rounds of Paris, Cady can't refuse the opportunity to visit the famous carousels for the first time...

1900s, France. In a small town outside of Avignon, a husband and young wife struggle to keep up their ancestral chateau--and start the family they so desperately desire. For the children they hope to have, the Clements hire the famous Bayol to build a carousel, but as the carver and his apprentice work on the beautiful and whimsical creation, fate will entwine them all in unseen ways--for generations to come...

Present day, Provence. As Cady's research leads her to the dilapidated Chateau Clement and its fabled carousel that was lost to the ravages of World War II, she will uncover a shocking truth in a set of one-hundred-year-old photographs that could guide her in reuniting a family torn apart by petty jealousies over several generations.

Amour Provence by Constance Leisure

A lush, evocative, debut novel set in Provence about the people who grow up and live and remain in two tiny neighboring villages—from the Nazi occupation to the present day—in particular, one man and one woman who have yet to find love.


In the south of France farm life unfolds with the rhythm of the seasons. But the lives of these villagers in Amour Provence reflect the reality that the midi is a place of extremes, the summers of unbearable heat and the winters that are often rude and harsh. Like the climate, the characters find themselves swept away by storms of unannounced and devastating intensity. A vintner’s adolescent son has a passionate romance with his schoolmate’s mother and they suffer different and enduring consequences. A young Arab woman forced into an arranged marriage, learns that life in the land of Liberté and Egalité can be just as confining as in her own country. A French woman who has lived abroad for many years returns home and discovers that certain members of her family are not pleased to have her back. An unexpected encounter with his past brings new sparks of life to a man who believed he had lost everything, including the only woman he ever loved.

In these two small adjacent villages in the South of France, characters lead lives that overlap and intertwine. Many are close neighbors who have known each other from childhood, linked by ancestors who clung for centuries to their patrimony, the land, which had always been poor, but is now a source of wealth drawn from wine, olives, and tourists. They know a great deal about each other’s hidden passions and weaknesses. Age-old resentments and closely guarded secrets retain their hold but are never to be discussed. Amour Provence is a portrait of lives deeply lived, shadowed by the past, against the backdrop of a region and a nation gripped by change.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

The bestselling, much-loved classic account of an English couple enjoying the fruits of French rural living - an irresistible feast of humour and heart.

Peter Mayle and his wife did what most of us only imagine doing when they made their long-cherished dream of a life abroad a reality: throwing caution to the wind, they bought a glorious two hundred year-old farmhouse in the Lubéron Valley and began a new life.

In a year that begins with a marathon lunch and continues with a host of gastronomic delights, they also survive the unexpected and often hilarious curiosities of rural life. From mastering the local accent and enduring invasion by bumbling builders, to discovering the finer points of boules and goat-racing, all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life are conjured up in this enchanting portrait.


Picnic in Provence: A Tale of Love in France, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard

When Elizabeth Bard followed a handsome Frenchman up the spiral staircase to a love nest in the heart of Paris, they thought they had found their perfect home. 

But life had other ideas. Falling in love with a quirky house full of history on a last romantic jaunt before the birth of their first child, Elizabeth and Gwendal decide to move – lock, stock and Le Creuset – to the French countryside; a land of blue skies, lavender fields and peaches that taste like sunshine.

Part memoir, part chocolate-smudged family cookbook, Picnic in Provence is about everything that happens after the happily ever after, and reminds us that life, in and out of the kitchen, is a rendezvous with the unexpected.

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What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: A Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader and A Literary Vacation.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

#CoverCrush: The Magic of Ordinary Days

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


An idyllic farm scene. Trees waving in a breeze, a lone woman, standing in a cultivated field. Who is she? What is her story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

#CoverCrush: The Rent Collector

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


Slums. A garbage pit. And a title called, The Rent Collector? Who is the rent collector? Who are these people who live in such a place? What is their story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Пятница Ponderings: It Takes a Village

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 
Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian

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When a child has a birthday or reaches a milestone, it is common to reflect back on that child's birth. For us, we can't reflect on The Boy's birth without being reminded that his birth was the best and worst day of our lives.

20 years ago. The Boy had open-heart surgery as a newborn. He was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries. The pulmonary and aorta arteries are reversed and so the oxygenated blood doesn't circulate properly. It is a heart defect that is fatal without surgical intervention.

It truly does take a village to raise a child and we have had an amazing village of doctors and nurses who have treated, cared for and loved our son over these past 20 years.

Thank you to the surgeon who performed open-heart surgery when The Boy was 6 days old. An arterial switch; a complicated, delicate surgery that saved his life. We were never able to speak with you because we were told you didn't talk with parents. But we are incredibly grateful to you and for your knowledge and skill.


Thank you to amazing nurses who have loved and cared for The Boy, both in the NICU and in so many doctor's offices. And most especially, to nurse Carolyn, who saved his life when she noticed that his color wasn't good. She suspected a heart problem because he was slowly turning blue, but didn't tell me that when she took him to the nursery for the doctor to check him, because she didn't want me to worry. He was just 6 hours old. He'd weighed 8 lbs 11 oz and was huge. We had no reasons to suspect any problems. But Carolyn noticed, and acted, and she saved his life.


Thank you to pediatricians who cared for The Boy and who allayed parent fears with good humor, counsel and attention.


Thank you to pediatric cardiologists who have monitored progress and answered questions and counseled and advised, and who have reassured a worried Mom that her son could hike a 50 miler with his scout troop in the White Clouds.


Thank you to specialists and a family doctor who examine, monitor, order tests, explain results and counsel with us as to The Boy's health.


Today The Boy is a tall, strong 20-year-old college sophomore. He has no significant medical restrictions. He is healthy. He brings immeasurable joy to our lives. He is here today because of a village of medical professionals. Doctors and nurses who have worked as a cohesive team to monitor, mentor and care for him.

I am so very grateful to each and every medical professional who has touched our lives. It really does take a village.

Edited. Originally published August 2016.

Neonatal Nurse's Day...Our experience

Thursday, July 12, 2018

#CoverCrush: lake como

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


I have a bucket list like most people. One of the things on my list is to visit Lake Como. I've been to Italy, but there is so much more to see. I loved this cover the minute I saw it. The beautiful lake, gorgeous mansions and a lone woman, sitting at the bottom of the steps. Who is she? What is her story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical  Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered PagesA Literary Vacation.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

#CoverCrush: I've Been Thinking

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


Maria Shriver is someone I have always admired. I appreciate her drive to better the world and help people. I've wanted to read her book and I just love the cover. What is she contemplating?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Books I Have Forgotten

Each month I revisit some of my past reviews. One of the reasons I started this book blog was to remember what books I have read. My memory isn't the greatest anymore and I found that I would read a book and then not remember if I liked it or what it was even about.

Maybe one of these will prompt you to seek out an older, but amazing book. Or, if you've read one of these and your review was different, please share!

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Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd
3/5 Stars
11/2008

"Definitely chick-lit. Light and fluffy with very little depth or substance. Lexi is a college graduate going from job to job. Her degree is impractical, having something to do with French culture and literature. She moves back home, only to find that her parents are in the midst of preparing to sell their home and move to a retirement community. Predictably, Lexi's choices disappoint them. However, Lexi loves all things French and is determined to find employment that will indulge her.

When a casual conversation with the manager of a French bakery leads to a job offer, Lexi jumps in only to find that the pay is inadequate and the staff are difficult. The story is fairly predictable, but Lexi is likeable. She's real, there is nothing fairy-tale about the story. She says the wrong things at times and makes mistakes. Her family is annoying, but whose isn't at times? The story is Christian, without being preachy or religious.

Overall, a light, enjoyable read. "

I don't remember anything about this.

Going Down South by Bonnie J. Glover
1/5 Stars
10/2008

"Most reviews I've seen call it "wonderful" and a great book for and about mothers and daughters.

It's meant to be a thought-provoking, coming of age, multi-generational book. A young girl becomes pregnant and her mother takes her down south to her grandmother's home. Mom and grandma are somewhat estranged, mom and daughter are somewhat estranged. Most of the men are losers. Secrets are shared and ideally everyone comes together at the end.

I couldn't even finish it. I didn't care about the characters. I couldn't relate to any of them and they inspired no compassion in me whatsoever. The book jumped around a lot, it wasn't a smooth read. It was too raw, with profanity and s*x scenes: and a vulgar edge that was uncomfortable. I'm sure it was "realistic" for many, but I didn't like it."

I have no memory of this one either. I didn't finish it, but I did link to several, more positive reviews for a different perspective.

One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling
4/5 Stars
10/2008

"Nora wants the perfect Christmas with her family. Jenna wants a miracle for her daughter. One snowy day, right before Christmas a tragic accident changes both of their lives forever. The story alternates chapters between Nora and Jenna. Nora struggles with grief and depression after the loss of her child. Jenna struggles with accepting the miracle of a new heart for her daughter, knowing that somewhere, another mother is grieving.

Beautifully written. Lauraine Snelling is a captivating storyteller. She captured the emotions of each mother so well and so believably. I haven't lost a child, but I've lost a parent and I know all too well how encompassing that grief feels. I haven't had a child who needed a heart transplant, but I have a child who was born with a heart condition that required open-heart surgery. I remember being in the NICU and seeing so many babies who wouldn't go home, and feeling guilty because mine would. I can only imagine how one would feel knowing that because one person died, your child lived. The mix of gratitude and grief could be overwhelming.

I'd never read Lauraine Snelling before, but you can bet that I will in the future. A lovely, touching story."

Apparently I enjoyed it. Quite a bit.

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What about you? What are some of the books you've read in previous years?