Tag Archives: January Recap

January Reading – Week 3 recap

I’m a few days late on this recap, but I also didn’t really get very far with reading either. My library had a Friend’s of the Library Booksale on Saturday and I picked up a wonderful selection of books all for $6. Seriously, I live off of book sales like these.

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I also picked up a copy of these two books, but they didn’t make it into the group photo shoot.

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France

What I finished:

The Ingredients of LoveThe Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau
Format: book

The summary and the cover are what attracted me to this book. As well as a sneak peek into the author’s newest book coming out in March Paris is Always a Good Idea. Ingredients of Love is a cute little love story based on a massive, self-serving deception of a naïve restaurant chef, Aurelie, by a book publisher, Andre. One sad and lonely day after being dumped by her boyfriend Claude, Aurelie goes for a long and thoughtful walk and finds herself in a charming little bookstore. Unsure of what to do, the bookseller directs her to table covered with novels. The first one she picks up is somehow about her and her restaurant. After that, her search for the author leads her to Andre and madcap hijinks ensue.

Its kind of nice reading a contemporary love story set in Paris that is not a memoir with biting or thoughtful social philosophy and observation. Its just a story of a guy and a girl and how they “fell in love.” Its very cheesy, but I liked the author’s writing style. He’s no Antoine Laurain, he’s still my number 1 for French fiction. But I did enjoy this book, despite the lackluster heroine (she’s quite dull). Andre was very entertaining in his determination to keep the ruse of his double personality. Its very reminiscent of a 1990s Meg Ryan Rom-Com.

Casino Royale (James Bond, #1)Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (James Bond Book #1)
Format: eAudio

I went back to the audiobook version of Casino Royale. Although I liked the book, it just didn’t live up to the hype and the myth that surrounds the theatrical version of James Bond. This book is our first introduction to Bond. Like the book itself, or maybe the book is like Bond, both are very dry and matter-of-fact. Bond is more sexist than charming, and not very clever despite being a good gambler. I wasn’t very impressed, but it was a quick read at only 187 pages, so I might give the follow-up novels a try to see if he gets more exciting. I kept waiting to see if Vesper would do something besides being kidnapped and looking pretty. I think my modern feminist view clashed with the sexism of the 1960s. As Bond put it, women were only good for cooking and sex. They had no role in espionage. How he became a 007 agent was someone disappointing too. It was revealed during a quick mention of him having killed a couple of people. That’s it. A quick two sentences and viola. The book was a nice step away from the hard-boiled crime novels I was reading. Now I’m ready for something more exciting, like books about espionage, and government level conspiracies.

What I’m Reading Now

The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, #2)The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock book #2)
Format: Print

It’s an 87 page story, but because it’s on my bedside table, I only read 2-3 pages before I go to bed. I hope to finish it this week though. It’s quite a juicy story and I’m loving watching Watson and Mary fall in love with each other.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Format: Audiobook / Read by Jim Broadbent

Unassuming and mild manner Harold wakes up one morning with a letter from a former co-worker informing him of her battle with cancer. After spending some time thinking of a reply to her letter, Harold finally puts the pen to paper. But when he walks to the post to deliver it, he has an overwhelming sense that a letter is not enough. So he walks to the next post box, and then keeps going. He makes a decision that if he walks the 500 miles to Berwick upon Tweed, then he can save Queenie Hennessy from her cancer.

This book is amazing. The narrator is amazing and I never want it to it. Harold is one of those super flawed characters that you cheer for anyway. He’s a coward, a bad father (detached, not cruel), but he’s sensitive, vulnerable and his travel is more of a philosophical look into his life than it is about saving Queenie. It’s wonderfully introspective and I love being on this journey with Harold.

This quote is from The Ingredients of Love, but I feel it applies very well to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

“Sometimes you go out in order to get somewhere. And sometimes you just go out to walk and walk and go farther and farther until the clouds clear, despair calms down, or you have thought a thought through to the very end”

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January Reading – Week 2 recap

I like this little weekly summary of what I’m reading. If you’re really curious as to what books are going through my revolving door of interest, follow me on Goodreads.

What I finished:

Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn (Daisy Dalyrmple Book #1)
Format: e-audiobook

I’m not sure why, but I’ve fallen into a historical murder mystery fiction mode. I really enjoyed Death at Wentwater Court, at least I did until the ending. Daisy Darlymple is a new journalist, writing columns about the homes of the England’s wealthiest and finest aristocracy. During a stay at a friend’s estate, Daisy and her companions stumble upon the corpse of one of the house guests. Now Daisy is entangled in solving the mystery with the local detective. The book was fun, although the author was very heavy-handed with the slang of the era towards the beginning of the novel. I enjoyed the mystery, the twists and the guesses as to who-dunnit. The only bell that really rang false for me was how the eventual murder was solved and Daisy’s attempts to convince the murderer to escape to Brazil.

Moonlight over ParisMoonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson
Format: Print

Near death due to the influenza, Helena Parr promised herself that if she survived, she would make sure to really live her life. After a miraculous recovery, she decides to leave her gossip-riddled life in England and go to France for a year to live with her eccentric aunt Agnes, studying art. Along the way, Helena makes a motley cru assortment of friends and meets and greets the various literary and artistic elite of this jazz age of Paris’s past. This book was fairly boring from start to end. I still don’t understand the concept or reasoning for the character of Louisette. She’s meant to be a chaperone for Daisy Fields, one of Helena’s classmates, but she’s never actively a part of the story and then she’s quickly swept away at the end. Although, the story and romance is very predictable and there is little to no plot in the story. Just Helena going to school and being chummy. I think the only thing that kept me engaged with the story was Robson’s writing style and the ease of which I felt transposed back to Paris of the 1920s. She has a great talent with description and setting. I just wish her book had some more depth and character development to it. All the characters were flat, minus the tropes of the eccentric aunt and flamboyant artist friends.

What I’m Reading Now

Return of the Thin Man Return of the Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Format: e-Audiobook

Although this is penned as two novellas covered the tale of Nick and Nora Charles following the hit novel The Thin Man, this comes across more as a screenplay than a novella. Which is fine, but I think what I loved most about The Thin Man was Hammett’s setting and use of descriptive writing to really bring the characters alive. And Nick and Nora are possibly by favorite literacy couple. The story is definitely dated though, with blatant racism and sexism in its depictions of certain characters. It does take away from the story. Although the audio is still fairly entertaining as its read by a full ensemble cast of narrators.

Casino Royale (James Bond, #1) Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (James Bond Book #1)
Format: Print

I have yet to venture in the James Bond world. I’ve seen a couple of the newer movies, but I thought I should give the books a try as they fit in quite perfectly with my murder mystery theme of the month. I did start on the audiobook, but I couldn’t concentrate on the narration, so I’m giving the print version a try.

The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, #2) The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock book #2)
Format: Print

Fresh off the tails of the Sherlock Christmas special, I’m back into the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I did read A Study in Scarlet a while ago, but have stagnated on reading the rest of the Sherlock books because I honestly have no clue in what order they need to be read. There are the 4 novels and various essays and short stories and mini novels. A co-worker recommend I spilt the works into groups, pre-death Sherlock and post-revival Sherlock. In either case, it doesn’t matter too much in which order I read the stories in those two groups.