Top Social

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


This book was recommended to me on Amazon about a year ago, after reading Out of Sorts and The Red Notebook. I'm not sure why I was resistant to reading it at first but now I'm so glad that I did. The author was even in town a few weeks ago and I had a feeling that I should have gone but I didn't. Next time though!

Ove is the grumpiest old man one can possibly imagine. He thinks if you don't drive a Saab you're an idiot, if you can't back up a trailer you shouldn't even be driving, and there's nothing worse than a bureaucrat in a white button-up shirt. But, like with most people, there's a reason he is the way he is. And it is a beautiful story. Parvaneh, his 30-year-old Iranian neighbor, is the perfect contrast to Ove and has a certain way about her that brings him out of his hard shell.

I listed to the audio version of this book and I'm so glad I did in order to hear all over the pronunciations correctly. I thought "Ove" was pronounced like "stove" without the "st" but it's actually "ooo-vuh."

5/5 Stars

Wednesday Whimsy #8


Bonjour mes amis! Happy mercredi and welcome back to another installment of Wednesday Whimsy.


Today I found out about a new Paris-themed book on Anne's Instagram called Don't be a Tourist in Paris. It sounds DELIGHTFUL: "...find the most eccentric architecture, get cozy in hidden cafes, party in the catacombs, tour the city with a broken heart, and wander like a true bohemian. A lively, eccentric and esoteric guide to the hidden Paris of your dreams, from an outsider who's made it her home." Yes, please! I already have a hold on it at the library. It is set to be released on September 7th.


Here's guide from French Girl in Seattle on Boston. I can't wait to put these tips to use in October.

I love this alternative view on What Parisians Do Instead of Self-Care.

A guide to Paris for repeat visitors.

An always fun 11 French Beauty Secrets.

Voilà! came out yesterday! I am eagerly awaiting mine to be delivered as I type.


Have you heard of the blog French and Parfait? The cheeky blog is written by Cecile, the author of the Voilà! cookbook mentioned above. I love how she starts every post with, "My poor non French people." I haven't tried any of her recipes yet (I KNOW!) but I sure will when I get my hands on her new cookbook. She does cooking videos across many platforms and they are very fun to watch.

Will You Ever Change? by Aurélie Valognes


The latest book by Aurélie Valognes, Will You Ever Change, is a look inside the Le Guennec family: Martine, Jacques, and their three sons and respective significant others. The girls aren't completely innocent, but Jacques does nothing to help the strained relationship between the girls and their in-laws. He doesn't make things easy with his wife, either. They have a very old fashioned relationship where he worked to bring money home and Martine did absolutely everything else.

Martine is tired of being taken advantage of by her husband and of not having great relationships with her daughters-in-law so she gives Jacques an ultimatum: be kind and considerate to his family or leave it.

Out of Sorts is the first book I read by this author and I really loved it. These books are similar in that they focus on a really grumpy person changing themselves for the better. Another book of this type, A Man Called Ove, I finished today and may have had tears in my eyes at work.

 4/5 Stars

What We Did in Paris


Despite it being horrifically cold, we really did get to see and do some very awesome things. We took a bike tour where we got to see ancient Roman ruins and explore a new-to-us neighborhood, St-Germain. We did a walking food tour of Montmartre with Clotilde Dusoulier (my main bday present aside from actually going to Paris). We got to see and touch the most beautiful Iron Lady. We went to Musee d'Orsay and see beautiful paintings. I got to see the magical steps from Midnight in Paris. We went to the top of the Sacre Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe.
Now I know why it's taken me so long to finish these posts of Paris: the trip is over and I don't know when I am going back. When I look back though these pictures I can feel what I felt standing on the bridge looking back to the Orsay museum. I remember how excited I was to sit down in the cramped little creperie in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and order a ham and cheese crepe and an Orangina. I can still feel how numb my feet got on the Montmartre tour because it was so cold. I can feel the awe I felt when visiting my first Paris cemetery; all the cats, the blue, the beauty, the urgent feeling of never wanting to leave. I remember our first morning there and how it felt like a fairy tale because it seemed like just moments ago (more like 10 hours) I was in Seattle kissing Nora and Jacques goodbye but actually I was in Paris walking along the Seine. It doesn't even seem like a place that exists when I'm not there but I can feel that it does.
Each time I've visited Paris I've had inspirations for living. My first trip gave me the taste of travel and Paris. The second trip was with Joe and we picked a name for the long haired black cat we knew we wanted while in Notre Dame. And on the third trip I got a great idea for a book while in Montmartre Cemetery. It won't be my first book but it's one I want to write one day.
I hope for next time we can go long enough that I can spend a day sitting inside wherever we stay, just feeling what it feels like to be in Paris. I hope to visit the Père Lachaise Cemetery and Galleries Lafayette and Sezane and Claus and buy more goodies from the pharmacy.
Whenever next time is, I can't wait.

Brimstone by Cherie Priest


Brimstone follows Alice Dartle, a clairvoyant from Virginia, and Tomas Cordero, a suit designer from Ybor City. Alice has moved to the small community of Cassadaga, Florida, a city known for it's mediums and spiritual leanings, to learn more about her abilities. After a series of fires both in Ybor City and Cassadaga, Tomas and Alice come together with the spiritual community to find out who is behind the fires and how it can be stopped.

I was skeptical going into this book because Cherie Priest's books are very hit-or-miss for me: I either love them or hate them. I was happy to discover that I absolutely love this one and once it really got going I couldn't put it down. She does a great job of writing the points-of-view of Alice and Tomas. They consistently alternate chapters without getting any unnecessary overlapping. A few parts of dialogue throughout the book could have been better, but that's really my only complaint about this book. Part magical realism, part historical fiction, part fantasy, this book has a lot going for it.

I also found it neat to find out that this is a real town in Florida that is less than an hour from where I spent much of my childhood.

5/5 Stars

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

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain


The Portrait is another amazing book by Antoine Laurain. This makes three out of four of his books that I absolutely love. Pierre-François Chaumont is a lawyer and antiques enthusiast who comes across an 18th Century portrait of someone who looks just like him. His wife and their friends insist it looks nothing like him, which only causes him to obsess over it more until he finally identifies the man in the picture and makes the three-hour trip to his estate. I won't spoil the twists at the end, but I will say that he is related to the man in the picture. 

My favorite thing about Laurain's books is that he manages to take actions that would seem obsessive and weird in real life and turn them almost whimsical in his books. At the very least he usually makes the actions acceptable. It makes me think that the characters are really owning what it means to be themselves while at the same time embracing their passions, whether that be a notebook and finding love, music and finding success, a hat and feeling powerful, or a portrait and finding yourself.

5/5 Stars

See my reviews for his other books here:

And buy them here:

Wednesday Whimsy #7

Bonjour Mercredi! I have been extra obsessed with French things lately so I have a full post of things to share.


The new book by Antoine Laurain, The Portrait, came out last Tuesday. It's the most recent published in English but was actually his first book in France. It is a very short book at 128 pages but I feel like it is just the right length for the story. I'm publishing the review tomorrow so check back if you're interested.


Virginie from French Truly is our awesome French-woman-turned-Seattle-local. She does French classes, has great short (usually 2-3 minutes) videos on French language, a lot of other things, and hosts a monthly "French Truly Salon" at SIFF in Lower Queen Anne. She gives a presentation based on the movie of the night, there's a break with French pastries and wine, and then you watch a movie. Here's the info for the upcoming season (starting next week!). I'm always looking for someone to join me...

Lindsey Tramuta has an article on Conde Nast Traveler about what to buy in Paris right now.

There's a great interview with Clotilde Dusoulier on Hardly Snarky.

Making notes for my next trip to Paris on how to do it like Hemingway.

In honor of booking my plane tickets to NYC, here are 45 things French people think when visiting New York for the first time and how to do NYC like a French girl.

A fun read noting when different people knew they had become Parisian.

Anyone who has been reading the Wednesday Whimsy posts knows I'm a big Rachel Khoo fan. She worked with a developer renovating a large retail/restaurant/hotel space and she helped create a Parisian-style cafe called Cafe Sou. Now I really want to go back to London!


Recently on Instagram I have come across several popular blogs with a surprising twist: lots of French things! I've been having fun scouring A Cup of Jo, Gal Meets Glam, and Rach Martino for their Frenchy posts. I usually search for "French," "France," "Paris," or "Parisian" when looking for books, posts, or general news articles.

A Paris Year by Janice MacLeod


A Paris Year is part of the OMGThereAreSoManyNewParis/FrenchBooksBeingReleasedThisYear extravaganza. I did, ultimately, very much enjoy this book, but I have a lot of problems with it. My main one is that it is not quite what it is described as. Here's a portion of the description:

"Part memoir and part visual journey through the streets of modern-day Paris, France, A Paris Year chronicles, day by day, one woman’s French sojourn in the world’s most beautiful city."

Firstly, there are not actually 365 days represented here, Close to it, but there is not an entry for each day. When I realized this I flipped through the book to make sure I didn't have pages missing.

Secondly, there is not a single entry for each day. Many are, but many span more than one day and they are not necessarily consecutive days. It's like they picked the order of the entries they wanted, picked the days they wanted represented, and let them fall in the order they were both in. Aside from the days not making sense, I was hoping for separate and (mostly) unique entries for each page. Instead, much of the time one page will be a pretty picture of a store, say a fromagerie, with a blurb about how nice the owner is, and the next page will go into more detail on the owner. Thus dragging this one day into several. I didn't like that; instead of expecting to leave each thought on the previous page, you had to check to see if it continued or not. One story goes on for 8 pages!

Thirdly, on page 135 "you're" is used instead of "your." HELLO, editing! Hire me?

Fourthly (is this a word?), the visuals come as Janice's illustrations as well as her photographs. Her illustrations are absolutely beautiful and I could stare at them for a large chunk of time each. I'd put up wallpaper with them on it. They're really wonderful. Her photography...not so much. The photos that were crisp and not blurry were fine, no complaints there because it is Paris after all, but a surprisingly large amount of the photographs were very blurry. In a bad way. I feel that with how beautiful the rest of this book is, the outside included, only the very best photographs should be used.

Fifthly (this was really hard for me to spell), on page 161 there is a picture of the Degas mausoleum (which is in the Montmartre Cemetery) under one of the pages dedicated to Père Lachaise. This is incorrect! And bothersome! !!

These 5 examples made the quality feel like it was put together independently with no professional editing, which is not up to my standards for a $25 book. And it was not published independently, so that reflects poorly on the publishing house in my opinion.

All these irks and errors said, I still did enjoy reading the rest of the book. The above really bothered me though. Aside from the beautiful illustrations, there were two pages that really stuck out to me as my favorites. Page 185, titled "Michel de Montaigne," is about a writer who died in 1592 and who is "known for legitimizing the essay as a form of literature." My favorite excerpt from this page is, "In India, people rub the truck [another error I just found! I'm sure this is supposed to be "trunk." WHO PROOFREAD THIS BOOK?????????] of Ganesh... for good luck. In Rome, people will rub the foot of St. Peter. But in France, they rub the shoe of a writer." *heart eyes*
On page 194 there is a lovely description about how many chairs you find together in a park and what mix of people was likely to have been there before you.
And I really did love reading about important people and events in French history mentioned.

Up until writing this review and the last paragraph, I was set at rating this book a 3.5 and being generous with a 4 for online purposes. After finding even more errors and proofreading mistakes, I don't feel good about any higher than a 3. Email me next time and I'll proofread it for free.

TL;DR Beautiful illustrations, fun facts, horrendous (or no) editing and proofreading was done.

3/5 Stars

Ascending the Sacre Coeur


Before planning for this trip, I didn't even realize you could go up into the Sacre Coeur. After having a light lunch of soup around the corner, we went up the millions of steps to the top. We were rewarded with darling gargoyles and spectacular views. The weather was pretty gross for most of the trip but cleared up for a little while while we were up there. It was neat to learn that sixteen nuns live in one of the buildings right next to the church. It is definitely worth the hike to the top - as all Parisian attractions are - so go if you get the chance.