Tag Archives: adult

The Little French Bistro (Nina George)

21 Jun

I was excited to read The Little French Bistro because I enjoyed The Little Paris Bookshop a lot. I really felt for Marianne at the beginning of the novel when some man rescues her from her suicide attempt. Why couldn’t he just leave her alone? Then, we get more information about how loveless her marriage is (husband leaves her to make her own way home!), so I’m happy that she finds some courage to make it to the coast of Brittany and start a new life.

 

Little French Bistro Squinklethoughts

1.  The author does a great job portraying the small-town charms of the small town that Marianne finds herself in. There is an interesting (but large) cast of secondary characters that envelop Marianne in their lives. I felt that some of the friendships came a bit too easily. Maybe it’s because I don’t reveal myself as easily as Marianne does, or maybe it’s because I don’t live in a small town, but that part felt a little unrealistic. So, too, does the fact that Marianne is able to find a good job and place to live within a day or so of landing at the coast. Is it really that easy? Especially considering Marianne is now in her 60s, I think? I am happy that she is able to reinvent herself, but I would have liked a little more struggle — a few more obstacles besides the sometimes dark thoughts that run around her head — before she could settle in to her new routine.

2.  The ending was definitely a surprise, and I think it saved the story for me. As the novel progressed, I sort of got lost in all of the names of the characters, which meant that there were a few too many for my liking. I liked being alongside Marianne as she grew in her role at the restaurant, but all the other stuff outside of the day-to-day, which is usually what interests me more, didn’t do it for me this time round.

3.  I’d recommend the book for anyone who likes stories about the French seaside, women’s growth, and happy endings … with the caveat that they’d have to adopt a little willing suspension of disbelief, and wade through lots of interactions with Breton neighbours before getting to the good ending.  I’d say that this was just under 4 stars for me.

 

3.5 Squinkles

 

Nina George’s Online Corners
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Thank you, First to Read, for sending me a copy of
The Little French Bistro in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between (Lauren Graham)

15 Mar

Reading Lauren Graham’s memoir is like reconnecting with an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long time but have loved nonetheless through the years.  If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan like I am, you’ll love every bit of this book, and will undoubtedly fall in love with LG even more.

 

Talking as Fast as I Can

Squinklethoughts1.  When I saw that my husband had given me a book for Christmas, I thought, “What book could I possibly want but not already have?”  Turns out, he actually realized that in all the hustle and bustle of November and December at school, I hadn’t yet managed to pick up Talking as Fast as I Can.  Best Christmas gift ever (because his gift also included some Tsum-Tsum blind bags, and, really, he just gets me).

 

Talking as Fast as I Can - Gym  

2.  I devoured the original series of Gilmore Girls.  I saw so much of myself in both Lorelai and Rory – a fast talker, a book nerd, a self-confident student who didn’t care much about what others thought, a quirky friend, and a complete coffee addict.  This book brought me back to happy (and not-so-happy) memories that coloured my young-adulthood.  It was cool to know how Ms. Graham’s childhood and young adult-hood also developed.  Did you know she used to live on a boat?

3.  The best parts of the memoir are the two sections that discuss her life during the original and follow-up series.  Graham does a great job correlating what we saw on the screen to what was happening behind the cameras.  I loved learning more about the cast and their real-life relationships with one another.

4.  It would have taken a lot for me not to love this book, but even objectively speaking, anyone who liked Gilmore Girls or Parenthood would enjoy reading about Graham’s voice in her own words.  Her prose is humorous and a little self-deprecating, from time to time, which I really loved because I like that kind of personality.  I don’t usually buy audiobooks of stories I already have in print, but this is one that I’m really eager to get.  Can you imagine having Lauren Graham telling you her life story in her own voice, talking as fast as she can?  I’m sure it’s awesome.

 

5 Squinkles

 

Lauren Graham’s Online Corners
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All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Coming Soon: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition

14 Sep

Hello, Squinks!  I hope your first week back at school was great and that you’re settling in with your classmates and teachers nicely.  What books did you pick up over the weekend?

I’m here today to whet your appetites about a book I’m super excited for.  It really needs no introduction, except to tell you to expect a few copies in our library when it comes out on October 6!

 

Harry Potter - Illustrated Edition 

If the cover is this awesome, can you imagine how much cooler the pictures on the inside must be?  Hypable has a great article with some of the other wonderful illustrations by Jim Kay, so check it out here.

And if you want even more, Bloomsbury’s got a 15-page preview for all of us!

Once you’re done oohing and aahing over the gorgeous images that accompany J.K. Rowling’s words, head on over to Bloomsbury UK’s site for fun stuff like:

 

  Harry Potter - Name Generator      Harry Potter - Best Friend

 

I can’t wait to share this new book with you all in less than a month!  And if you haven’t gotten sorted into your houses yet, what are you waiting for?

Eight Hundred Grapes (Laura Dave)

8 Jun

Eight Hundred Grapes

 

It’s no surprise that Laura Dave has found success as a writer across all platforms. Her experience writing for the big and small screens shines in this novel. Eight Hundred Grapes is the perfect marriage between the written word and moving pictures: It’s got likeable characters that are both flawed and believable, a gripping central conflict that many people will both understand and not be enviable of, and bite-sized scenes that are perfect for keeping the pace moving.

In Eight Hundred Grapes, Georgia is all set to marry Ben, a truly lovely bloke in all the ways that matter … except for the one mistake he made – he kept something from Georgia. Or, rather, he kept someone a secret. Hooked? Yeah, it didn’t take me very long at all to read Dave’s story. Her characters are totally engaging – all with their own set of delicious problems, all putting on brave faces even (and in some cases especially) when in front of family, all silently burning in torment.

I love, love, love awkward moments (in literature, in case the universe gets any big ideas), and there’s no shortage of grapes to make a bottle of fine awkward wine in this novel. There is no right or wrong when it comes to what Georgia should do, and what drives this novel is the choice she has to make. White? Red? Maybe a Zinfandel will do. All equally appealing, but she needs to decide which one is better for her. I’m glad Dave allows her protagonist the opportunity to waffle between her choices because life is like that: It’s rarely neat and never easy. I really enjoyed the mess that Georgia has to find her way out of. I also enjoyed the storyline between Georgia’s parents. As children, we forget sometimes that our parents had a love story before we ever came along, so it was exciting to read Dave’s exploration of love in a marriage many decades in the making.

And if that’s not enough conflict for you, revel in the mixing vat that is Georgia’s brothers’ conundrum. You’ll need a glass of wine to help the medicine go down. Speaking of which … Squinks, if you’re reading this, close your eyes for a paragraph while I talk to your parents for a minute …

Parents, Laura Dave very kindly gave me a copy of her suggested wine pairings for this delectable book. If/when you get your hands on Eight Hundred Grapes, she suggests having by your side a glass of La Marca Prosecco (for the first part), Lynmar Chardonnay (for the second and third), and Ridge Zinfandel (for the fourth and fifth).

Okay, a last word from me: DON’T read this book if you’ve only got a few minutes here and there. That may be enough to read a chapter or two, but you’ll definitely want to carve out an afternoon for this one. And that afternoon will lead into a book-club meeting or a girls’ night in of discussion. Also, DON’T read this story if you’re not into witty one-liners or charming characters. Lastly, DON’T read this book if you like things orderly and resolved. If you can’t stand bittersweet awkward encounters, mosey on along.

Have you read Eight Hundred Grapes yet? What did you think?  I’m looking forward to reading Dave’s other stories!

 

4 Squinkles

 

Laura Dave’s Online Corners

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Thank you, Simon and Schuster Canada, for sending me a copy of
Eight Hundred Grapes in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Vanessa and Her Sister (Priya Parmar)

23 Feb

Vanessa and Her Sister

 

17 Bookworm Lane
Chapterville

 

23 February 2015

My dearest Squinks,

And so, the cold weather lingers on. I do hope that it has yet overstayed its welcome where you are. Winters do seem dreadfully long if they are especially cold, n’est-ce pas? When the temperature dips below 20° C, I sometimes recall those moments of my childhood during which we trudged 20 miles to school … walking barefoot … in the snow … with nary un chapeau to keep our têtes protected from the wind.

Et alors, I write to you today to tell you about the most delightful novel I have just finished. It is written by one Priya Parmar, a very talented author who hails from Mother England. Vanessa and Her Sister is a unique and lovely literary tableau of the heydays of the Bloomsbury Group, told through the wise eyes of Vanessa Bell (née Stephen). Wonderful things about this novel abound; I hope one of the copies in our library will someday find its way into your hands.

Are you wondering if this story really is worth your time? Maybe you’re not particularly keen on immersing yourself in the lives of these Bloomsbury authors, artists, and critics, whom some have undoubtedly labelled as equally the epitome of intelligence and the pinnacle of pretentiousness? Peut-être reading Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse has given you a perpetual, irrevocable, indomitable refusal to ever read anything related to her ever again? If so, dearest Squinks, I beg you to let me plead my case.

Read this novel for Parmar’s writing. Read it for the pure joy of hearing her witty words spoken aloud because saying them in your head once is simply not enough. It is facile enough to read the curricula vitæ of these beaux amis, but Parmar’s writing brings them, especially the Stephen sisters, to life. Told from Vanessa’s perspective, with the occasional welcome interruptions from friends, Vanessa and Her Sister affords its readers an extended glimpse into the lives of this coterie from the rare point of view of someone living within it. Parmar’s Vanessa is an intelligent and perceptive heroine, keenly aware of her place as a woman, wife, and artist in the England of the early 1900s. I think many of you will truly appreciate recognizing that she was both a product of and participant in her time, and that she handled herself with aplomb even in the most trying of circumstances. Some would undoubtedly admonish her for her seeming passive-aggressiveness, but dear Squinks, as you read this novel, I hope you, too, come to comprehend and applaud the quiet but steady trail that Vanessa blazed. And what of Virginia Woolf? I’ve never loathed her nor understood her as much as I do now that I’ve seen her through the eyes of her sister. Vanessa’s forbearance of Virginia haunts me in the same way that Virginia’s beauty haunted her.

If, by the time you reach her journal entry dated 20 November 1906, you still have not found the lure that draws you into the turbulent English Channel that was the Stephens, I encourage you, then, to simply admire Parmar’s talent with me. Her words are eloquent, and her turns of phrases capture the voices of this time period. Rather than seeming tentative or contrived, Vanessa’s wit and humour flow freely across the page as a testimony to the author’s deft. Parmar makes me want to write and paint and read to feel the same passion that permeated throughout the Bloomsbury Group.

Please, my dear Squinks, please put me out of my misery. Venez me voir dans la bibliothèque et demandez-moi ce nouveau roman incroyable.

Amicalement,
Ta professeure

PS: My favourite line of the entire novel is the last line.  Let me know when you get there!

 

5 Squinkles 

Priya Parmar’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, Random House and Ballantine Books, for sending me a copy of Vanessa and Her Sister.  All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own; I received no compensation for them.

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