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My Birthday Trip to Paris


In my defense, it was a trip for my 30th birthday. Oops, did I say that out loud?

Originally I was thinking of going to Disneyland in California but then decided it wasn't quite big enough for the big 3-0. I did a little research on flights to Paris and found some via Icelandair for $600 per person round trip and got Joe on board. We found an affordable Airbnb (the studio we stayed in is here) and suddenly my dream birthday trip was a go.

We did many wonderful things I had never done before, like ascend the Arc de Triomphe and Sacre Coeur, visit the Musee d'Orsay, Laduree, and Montmartre Cemetery, and wonderful things I had done before, like browse Shakespeare & Co, take a bike tour of the city, and go to the Louvre. We even spent an entire day going to the Normandy coast to visit Mont Saint-Michel.

I have a few posts planned splitting up what we saw, what we did, what we ate, and one just for the Montmartre Cemetery. There are two reasons why it takes me so long to process trips: 1) there's a lot of (good) emotional baggage attached to them (AKA my heart tries to explode) and 2) if I'm editing pictures and writing up the posts that means it's over. I'm still slowing working on what we did in Florida last September!

Any special details you'd like from the trip?

Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin

This is one of the most disappointing and most misleading books I have read in a very long time. Actually, I don't think I have ever been so mislead by a book before. The full title is 

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London but very little of the book is actually about the art of walking. Really, this book is a history of several women writer's lives of the past with a mishmash of topics thrown in between them, including but not limited to: immigration, feminism, writing, protests, marching, travel, and romantic relationships. There was even a section that had page after page of a detailed retelling of a movie. WHY???

There is a ton of quoting the featured women's books or book about them and most of it is regarding the rights and freedoms (or lack thereof) of women in the particular decade that they came from.

What I wanted going into this book - a first-person view of "flâneusing" - we actually got very little of. There are a few paragraphs of the author's time spent in Paris or Venice that I quite enjoyed but 90% of the book was page after page of history and information about these women and none of it has anything to do with FLANEUR. Not only was it not about the flâneur, what it is comprised of is such a mishmash it's hard to make sense of anything. 

2/5 Stars (I have given it 2 stars because I did enjoy what few words there were on the title topic)

I was given a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg


When I started A Homemade Life, I was a little disappointed. It is laid out as a short (around 3 pages) essay/story with a recipe or two to follow. Rinse and repeat. The first few were okay, but I had been hoping for something more like another book of hers I read, Delancy.

However, a few stories in I changed my mind. Molly has such a charming way of writing that it makes me want to be a better writer and I just can't help but get pulled into her stories. So I was convinced and converted to liking this new-to-me book when I came upon the FRENCH STORIES. Much to my surprise, she has a French degree (one of her many) and has spent several chunks of time in Paris. Her stories of her time there are absolutely magical and I can't wait to try the recipes she shares to go along with them.

A truly great memoir on her childhood, schooling, family, and falling in love.

4/5 Stars

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger


Romancing the Inventor is a novella involving one of my very favorite parasol protectorate/parasolverse characters: Madame Lefoux! In it you will find an almost-200 page dose of my favorite author and all the wit and humor that comes along with her books. I truly adore each one of them. 

The book takes place post-Parasol Protectorate when Genevieve is serving her indenture with Countess Nadasdy. Imogene accepts a position in the hive house as a parlourmaid. There is an obvious attraction between the two but Madame Lefoux has to get over her last love before they can get anywhere. 

This definitely has some sexy scenes and what I love about them is they don't get too detailed. There's enough to know what's going on and what body part they may be using, but each detailed description is not shared with the reader. Some things are best kept private :-) If you're a fan of the parasol verse books, I highly recommend the novellas that have been released to go along with them.

5/5 stars

The Dim Sum Field Guide

Ever since a few good friends took me to Din Thai Fung a few years ago, I've been pretty head-over-heels for dim sum. My co-worker and I love to take management visiting from our home office there for lunch when they're in town and I love to see new locations popping up all over the Seattle area.

The Dim Sum Field Guide seems to be a pretty extensive (at least to my little American brain) collection of the types of food you will find at a dim sum restaurant, complete with the origins, popular ingredients, and sides that often come with the dish listed along side of a drawing of the food. Sections range from steamed and pan-fried to sweet and "extras" (think noodle and rice dishes). Not only will I be re-reading this before I go to my next dim sum dinner, I may even sneak it in with me.

My main complaint about this book though is that when I've been to dim sum in the past, the star of the show seems to be so many different kinds of dumplings and there were very few entries on dumplings in this book.

3/5 Stars

I was sent a copy of this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

The Obituary Society's Last Stand by Jessica Randall


When reading one of Charlaine Harris's mystery series earlier last year, my eyes fell on a perfect description for what this type of story is... a "southern domestic cozy" mixed with magical realism. It makes me feel like I immediately have to move to a small town and always have baked goods and sweet tea ready for any surprise guests.

This is the third book in the Obituary Society series and I just have to say that I really really love Jessica Randall's writing. She is the most underrated author that I know of. Her books have such a quiet and quaint magic to them.
The Obituary Society's last stand (The Obituary Society-I love it!) follows Juniper (love the name) who we first met in the first book in the series. In the other books there was a quiet ghost or two but all of a sudden there are so many people back from the dead trying to pick up where they were when they died. And the trouble seems to be coming from the pond behind Juniper's house. Will the town be able to pull together to save itself? SO GOOD! This is one of my favorite trilogies. 

5/5 Stars

Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull


Just because you're not in middle school doesn't mean you can't enjoy a middle grade book! Ok, I'll be honest, I really loved this book. I love all of Brandon Mull's books. I judged the first Fablehaven book by it's cover many years ago and the rest is history.

I was nervous yet excited to start reading Dragonwatch. It picks up not long after the final Fablehaven book, Keys to the Demon Prison, ended, with the demons having been defeated by Kendra, Seth, and all their friends. Now the dragons, who helped put the demons in their new prison, are staging an uprising so they can be free of the preserves. The problem is that the last time they roamed the earth they tried to take it over.

Seth and Kendra are asked to become the new caretakers of Wrymroost because when together they can speak to dragons when most people become "petrified" in front of them and are unable to speak or move. This book has all of the great adventure and realistic dialogue (the kids going back and forth with each other is really fun) that I've come to expect from Brandon Mull. This is a fantastic follow-up to Fablehven and I can't wait for more books in the series to come out!

5/5 Stars

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Books Read in 2016


Here are 11 of my favorite books I read last year and the tiniest of blurbs to go along with the titles.

1. The Red Notebook
Amelie in book form. Whimsical and romantic, set in Paris. My review here.

2. The French Don't Diet Plan
This book helped me get my snacking under control and lost 10 lbs without trying very hard. I need to give it a re-read... My review here.

3. Written in Red
The first book in the Others series by Anne Bishop. Set in an alt-present day American continent with really interesting relationships between humans and the "Others."

4. The Obituary Society
A whimsical cozy with the tiniest hint of magic. If there is a word for these kinds of books I need to know it and if there isn't there needs to be one. My review here.

5. Glory
A "superhero" comic written by Joe Keating. I say "superhero" because, like with all of his comics I have read, how a person is portrayed and the setting are only a means to get out a really awesome story he has to tell and do not necessarily define the entire comic. A must-read. Please read it.

6. The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Another whimsical cozy with a hint of magic. More of these please. My review here.

7. Every Heart A Doorway
This book is about kids who have visited other worlds and what it's like for them when they get back. Completely amazing. This should be a mandatory read for all who are literate.

8. To Capture What We Cannot Keep
A romantic story with Paris, Ireland, and the Eiffel Tower. My review here.

9. A Curious Beginning
Such. A. Good. Book. The closest I've read to my favorite author, Gail Carriger. My review here.

10. Moon Called
The first in the Mercy Thompson series written by Patricia Briggs. These books are so good I got them all from the library and read each one within a 24-hour time frame.

11. The Flower Arrangement
Originally this list was 10 books but I had to make it 11 to include this book. Cozy without the mystery. Several separate people who are tied together in a beautiful way at the end. My review here.

Etched In Bone by Anne Bishop (Early Review)


For those unfamiliar with the series:
I listened to the audiobook for Written in Red, the first book in this series, a year ago last month. I had purchased a second hand copy of of the actual book months prior but after it being recommended to me so many times I decided to get the audiobook so I could get to it sooner. I instantly fell in love with it and the unique world Anne Bishop has created for us.

The Others books follow Meg Corbyn, a cassandra sangue (AKA blood prophet) who sees the future when her skin is cut, escapes the horror that most of her kind live in. They are basically used a prostitutes - nasty people pay for their future to be told to them and sex if they are willing to pay enough. The girls are kept very sheltered because exposure to too many things will overload them, so they are taught things a little at a time and only what they may need to know to give a prophecy. If they speak the prophecy they forget it immediately and experience a euphoria. If they do not speak it they remember it but experience an awful pain in place of the euphoria.

Meg finds sanctuary in the Lakeside Courtyard, a special community run by the terra indigene (they are the "Others:" werewolves, vampires, werecrows, elementals, and so much more). History has shown that humans and the terra indigene do not get along but Meg finds a place in the Courtyard and a special place in everyone's lives. For the first time in their history, she brings terra indigene and humans together to genuinely care for each other.

I think what I like most about this series is that it explores relationships in the most unlikely ways. It is similar to a squirrel and a goose falling in love with each other, but neither one knows anything about the customs of relationships so they're creating a new path for themselves. I don't want to give too much away, but read the books! They're great!

My review:
Etched in Bone was so exciting to read that half of the time I couldn't read fast enough and the other half I wanted to read so slowly that the book would never end. I feel like this is the first book in this series where we see how the relationship between the humans and terra indigene may pan out, and also a real glimpse at what everyday life in the Courtyard is like. The big upset comes from Monty's brother, Jimmy, rather than from within the courtyard or an organization against the Others.

One of the most interesting parts to me is Meg learning more about using the tarot cards to give prophecy rather than by cutting. She has inspired other cassandra sangue that she's in contact with to try to express them in other ways, such as by drawing.

There are several really funny parts that made me laugh out loud (cukkies, anyone?). So many of the characters are dear to me. I love the crows that are obsessed with shiny things, the pony elementals that are SO dangerous and powerful but love Meg because she gives them treats every afternoon, and Skippy, the little wolf who mentally "skips" and can't turn into his human form. And the fact that the wolves really love dog treats but everyone has to call them wolf cookies because they can't have anything to do with dogs. I really enjoy this unique world and seeing all of these interesting relationships play out. I believe that this is the last book with this story line, but there should be more in the same world just in a different part of the country.

5/5 Stars

Etched in Bone comes out on March 7, 2017. I was given a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.