Monthly Archives: February 2013

Blogging hiatus

Due to some rather wonderful changes in my life, namely the birth of my son, I’ll be taking a break from blogging here for a while. I haven’t really been updating as much I should anyways, and I don’t see myself finding much time to devote to this site in the near future, although I’ll try to post the occasional review when I do actually finish a book. 

If anyone is interested, I may start paying more attention to my other blog, Librarians Crossing where I review children’s books and resources. That will probably be my focus in the near future, so feel free to stop by. =) 

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Lessons in French – Hilary Reyl

Lessons In FrenchLessons in French by Hilary Reyl
Age: Adult
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication: March 2013

 

 

This was a book I bid on, and won through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer’s for the very obvious reason that it is a book set in Paris. The novel was sold as a story of a young college graduate living in Paris in 1989 during a world of political upheaval, working for an over-bearing boss. Despite all of the materials and history available to the author, and despite her exceptional knowledge of France and literature, this book fell short on many levels.

1. Location. Although the book is set in Paris, hardly any of the characters are actually French. In fact, this book and its various plot-lines could have taken in any city in any country. I’m not exactly sure how the title fits into the story, as the main character, Katie, has very little to learn in French. Which the author makes clear from the very beginning. Katie’s French accent is perfect.

2. Character Development. All of the characters, even the soul-searching Katie are shallow and unappealing. There is little background provided for the characters and even less that makes them endearing. I think part of the problem is the author’s writing style. She doesn’t show or reveal character traits or growths, but instead tries to pass along the knowledge through Katie’s musings of her surroundings. With everyone constantly telling Katie how “naive” and innocent she is, I found her to be an unreliable narrator. Although she was determined to fit into the glitz and glamour of being an assistant for a world-famous photo-journalist, I didn’t see or get a feel for any of the glitz or glamour that Katie so desperately clung to.

3. Devil Wears Prada lite. This book reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada in a number of ways, with the number one spot going to the misunderstand yet bitchy boss, Lydia Schell. Her relationship with her husband is messy at best, but I found her to be void of any depth in the novel.

4. Author’s prose. While Reyl is incredibly well-read and knows Paris inside and out, her writing style needed more work. Again, she tells rather than shows her points. The characters fall flat, the various love triangles are boring and feel forced, and all the resolutions at the end of the novel feel too clean-cut. Katie dragged her feet developing into her person while working for Lydia in Paris, and I think this held the novel back some. Her relationship with Olivier and her acknowledge of her cousin Etienne’s troubles at the end of the book came too late to really make much of an impact to the story. Despite her “growth” she still played the role of the desperate doormat for the Schell’s attention and affection.

The book is a quick read. It’s too heavy to be chick-lit, but by most accounts meets the criteria. In regards to books set in France, this book didn’t hit the mark and there was not enough in the novel to satisfy.

Paperman

Have you all seen this year’s Oscar nominated short  Paperman? Its a very sweet and charming romantic short film set in 1940’s New York. Watch it here if you have 6 minutes to space.

A new use for the library

Talk about giving back to the community! This is such an awesome idea, instituted by the small town library in Basalt, Colorado.

The seed library is a partnership between the Basalt Public Library and the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. Seed packets encourage gardeners to write their names and take credit for their harvested seeds. 

Here’s how it works: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others.

Read the full article here at NPR news