Review: The Paris Winter

Paris Winter

  • Author: Imogen Robertson
  • ISBN: 9781250051837
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 360

The above ISBN is for the hardcover edition, but I listened to the audiobook I purchased.

Maud Heighton came to Lafond’s famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle Époque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels’ world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. Before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light. – Goodreads synopsis

I’m glad I listened to the audiobook instead of reading the book.  Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.  I would have quit reading after fifty pages.  While the story was good, the first half of the book was like watching a turtle.  For that reason, I had difficulty paying attention to the story, and I probably missed a few details as it unfolded.

Once things picked up a bit, I enjoyed it, but because the first half was so dull, I wasn’t very invested in the main character, Maud.  If there were any book to compare this one to, it would be Villette by Charlotte Brontë, at least in style.  However, Villette was better, and I cared more about Lucy than I did Maud, despite Maud’s involvement in a more interesting plot (at least in the second half).

If the plot hadn’t taken so long to build, I would probably give The Paris Winter four stars.  However, because the first half was on the edge of completely boring, I can only give it three.  If you loved Villette, or you enjoy a modern take on the classic Gothic novel, I would recommend borrowing this one instead of buying.  If you insist on purchasing a copy, you might want to go with the audiobook, but regardless of the edition, just know that the story plods along for well over a hundred pages before it gets anywhere interesting.

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#FitReaders Check-In

FitReaders2016
  • This check-in is for February 5th – 11th.
  • I didn’t meet any of my goals this week, so I’ll be trying for an average of 6K steps per day again.
  • I start my new full-time job on Tuesday, so I’ll have some adjusting to do to figure out how and when I can workout during the week.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had a regular full-time schedule, but hopefully having that sort of normal work week will allow me to get some regular exercise.
  • If you’d like to add me as a friend on FitBit, you can find me HERE.
  • Yoga Workouts: 0/5
  • Steps: 30,224/42,000
  • Miles: 12.41/17.5
  • Flights of stairs: 22/35
  • Active Minutes: 111/210
  • Monthly 5K Races Completed: 1/10
  • Monthly 1 Mile Fun “Runs” Completed: 1/10
  • Total Money Donated: $6.20/$100.00

Friday’s Fairy Tales: Blue Beard

Blue Beard - Plashing Vole
Image: Plashing Vole

Some believe that Blue Beard was a “woman’s story” about the risks of pregnancy and childbirth, or, alternatively, about the dangers of not following their instincts in regards to men, and therefore inherently Feminist.  My first experience with the tale and this opinion was in Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ book Women Who Run With the Wolves.  While it is true that Blue Beard was already a popular tale by the 17th century, and it’s possible that it was originally a “woman’s story”, Perrault’s version is based on the combination of two gruesome, and, unfortunately, true, stories.

The first one was about Conomor the Cursed, a Breton chief who it was predicted would be killed by his son.  To avoid the prophecy coming true, he murdered his wives as soon as they became pregnant.  That’s horrible enough, right?  Well, the second is a much more gruesome story, even when compared to Perrault’s tale, and is about Gilles de Rais, a wealthy nobleman who lived during the 15th century.

Gilles de Rais was Joan of Arc’s protector on the battlefield and considered a hero for helping to drive the English out of France during the Hundred Years’ War.  However, he also developed the reputation of practicing alchemy and black magic and being a pedophile and murderer of young boys after he left the military.  Supposedly, he earned the nickname “Bluebeard” from his horse’s fur, which appeared to be blue when seen in daylight, and the original folk tale was told as a way of deterring children from going onto his land.  During his trial, after the remains of fifty boys were discovered near his castle, he confessed to killing over 140 children and described in great detail how he preyed upon and tortured them.  He was burned alive while being hung at the same time.

Regardless of whether the story of Blue Beard is a Feminist tale or a story to frighten children away from an evil man, here are some modern retellings:

Thursday’s Things: Watch Out For Those Arrows

heart-beating

  • Feminist-Friendly Romance Novels – I’m not much of a Romance fan, no matter how Feminist; however, if you’re looking for a love story or two to read this month, you may want to give some of these a try.
  • 13 Times Books Perfectly Described Heartbreak – If you’re like me, and Romance isn’t your thing, here’s an entirely different list of books.  Maybe you recently had your heart broken, or you’re so head over heels that you want to remind yourself that not everyone is so lucky.  Either way, the books on this list and the quotes that go with them are perfect.

Let Me Love You

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kisses

Wednesday’s Words: Wuv, Twue Wuv

Princess Bride

My original plan was to share the few favorite “love” quotes from various books I have copied down in my book journal, but then I remembered that I’ve never written a “Wednesday’s Words” about The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  While these quotes aren’t all my favorites (there’s too many to list), they are my favorite love-related ones.

Kissing Book

“Is this a kissing book?”

You know me.  I’m not big on Romance.  When I get a book recommendation from someone who I know loves the kind of Fantasy that is more Romance than Adventure, this is the question, in the exact same tone, I want to ask.

true love

“This is true love — you think this happens every day?”

The confidence in this line is what gets me.  Every once in a while, the Boyfriend says something about our relationship with that kind of assuredness.  It makes me weak in the knees, and my stomach does that weird little flip thing.

Humperdink

“She loves you,” the Prince cried. “She loves you still and you love her, so think of that–think of this too: in all this world, you might have been happy, genuinely happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, not really, no matter what the storybooks say, but you could have had it, and so, I would think, no one will ever suffer a loss as great as you.”

This quote reminds me of a scene in Gilmore Girls when Lorelai’s Father ends up in the hospital, and Emily demands that she gets to die before he does because she couldn’t handle losing him.  I don’t believe in soul mates, but I do believe in the kind of love that when one of a couple passes away, the other can’t go on living.

Best Kiss

“There have been five great kisses since 1642 B.C…(before then couples hooked thumbs.) And the precise rating of kisses is a terribly difficult thing, often leading to great controversy…. Well, this one left them all behind.”

Sometimes kissing books are ok 😉

As You Wish

“As you wish…”

*Sigh*

Tuesday’s Tunes: Literary Valentines

It’s been several months since I last did a “Tuesday’s Tunes.”  Since this is the one month of the year when everyone is supposed to be sappy and romantic or the complete opposite, or celebrating Galentine’s, I’ve put together a playlist of love-related songs mentioned in books or on the soundtracks of movie adaptations.  The only exception is “Where You Lead”, the theme song to Gilmore Girls.  However, Rory was a true book addict, so I consider the song to be just as much a “Literary Valentine” as the others.  There’s something to listen to, no matter your feelings about Cupid, relationships, or those chalky heart-shaped candies.

Literary Valentines

Bonus Life Hack: If you’re a chocoholic like me, wait until the day after Valentine’s Day to hit the stores and stock up on enough clearance chocolate to last until Easter.

Monday’s Minutes

“Monday’s Minutes” is a weekly post in which I track my bookish life.  All book covers are linked to Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

  • An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
  • Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch – This is on hold until March since it’s an ebook and I’m participating in Feel the Paper Love February.
  • Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge – This is a book club read.

 Echo Bad Magic Cupcakes

Challenges:

Total pages read: 100

Total # of books for the year: 9.  This week has been so busy.  I accepted a full-time job offer on Tuesday, but since I’m not starting until the 16th, I’m still working my part-time job until then.  I’m also still doing freelance editing work.  As soon as the Boyfriend and I knew that I’ll soon have a steady income, we began looking for a new place and figuring out budgets and how much it will cost to move when our current lease is up in April.  There’s a bunch of other stuff going on as well, and it all added up to us feeling overtasked and a little overwhelmed.  We went out to breakfast on Saturday after looking at yet another place and had a long talk to hash everything out, and then made an agreement to do no more adulting for the rest of the day.  I think we both feel better and are more prepared to handle all the changes coming up within the next few months.  Before that, though, there was Harry Potter Book Night.  I put a lot of work into it, so I was a little disappointed that only one lovely person participated.  However, we both had a lot of fun, and I’m glad she came over to the blog to show her support.

My Top Commenter: Is Litha from Victorian Soul Critiques.  Thank you! 🙂

What are you reading this week?

#ShelfLove – My Ships

Shelf Love Challenge 2016
This month’s discussion for the Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge is supposed to be about our Book Boy/Girlfriends.  However, I don’t have any.  I was going to bow out of posting anything this month, but then I read one of Terri’s posts over at Second Run Reviews.  It was about her lack of a Book Boyfriend because her Husband already possesses the qualities she admires in Jamie Fraser.  After that, I saw this week’s Five Fandom Friday topic was OTPs.  I didn’t (and still don’t) have enough OTPs to participate in FFF, but it did give me the idea to write about my favorite Ships in place of a Book Boyfriend.

I Ship:

  1. ♥Jamie and Claire♥ – Like Terri, if I were going to have a Book Boyfriend it would probably be Jamie Fraser.  However, I’ve already got an IRL man that has many of the qualities I admire in Jamie.  Also, the Boyfriend is a Scot from a well-known clan with a verra long history.  So, I think I’ll keep him instead of pining for a fictional man.  Besides, Jamie belongs to Claire, and they’re perfect for each other.  Their marriage is the kind of marriage I hope to have, and before meeting the Boyfriend, Jamie and Claire gave me hope that it’s possible.  I don’t ever want them to lose each other.
  2. ♥Eleanor and Park♥ – While I loved the book by the same title for more reasons than E and P’s relationship, this is young love at it’s finest.  I hope that their love for each other blossoms into the kind of relationship that lasts a lifetime, but even if it doesn’t, the time they have together in the book is full of those moments that any of us who experienced our first romance in high school will never forget.  I shipped them so hard I started reading the book a second time as soon as I finished it because I just couldn’t handle the book hangover.  I also now have an E&P playlist chalk full of the Cure, the Smiths, and so many other great bands and songs the two of them listen to together.
  3. ♥Ceony and Emery♥- While I haven’t yet read the third book of the Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg, I already know that these two get each other on a level that a lot of couples never reach.  I have difficulty writing about them without getting all spoilery, so I’m just going to stop there.

Why do I only have three Ships?  My “Read” shelf on Goodreads is a pretty good indication that I rarely read books involving a romance.  When I do, they’re usually not major parts of the story.  So, while Harry and Ginny’s relationship resulted in marriage and kids, it wasn’t developed enough before the epilogue to make much of an impression.  Ron and Hermione’s relationship is a little more developed, but they spend more time arguing than anything else, and Ron was never my favorite.  Other series with the potential for a major Ship are ones that I’ve only read the first book, and so the relationship hasn’t grabbed a hold of me yet.

What are your Ships?  Are there any books or series I must read so I can add more Ships to my list?

Review: My Life on the Road

Life

  • Author: Gloria Steinem
  • ISBN: 9780679456209
  • Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir
  • Pages: 276

I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t often read non-fiction, and I’m even less likely to read a memoir.  However, I’ve considered myself to be a Feminist for most of my life, and when I saw Gloria Steinem’s new book on Netgalley, I had to request it.   Beyond a few minor details, I don’t know much about her, and I’ve never read any of her other books.

She’s an excellent writer and story teller.  That alone makes My Life on the Road worth reading.  She’s led a life of travel to the point that I think a better title might be “The Road: My Life.”  So, if you’re looking for a good armchair travel experience, this book is it.  Though the writing style is considerably different, I would say the book as a whole is similar to Henry Rollins’ Smile, You’re Traveling.  The only issue I had with My Life on the Road was Steinem’s very biased portrayal of political events.  Not having known much about a couple of the events she wrote about, I later learned through some research that, though she was factually accurate, she didn’t give the full story, and her incomplete version was a bit misleading.  With that being said, I wasn’t expecting a bias-free book.  This is still a memoir, and, therefore, mostly her personal opinions and observations.  Besides, when have politics ever been unbiased?  Ultimately, the result is that I became interested in learning more about the subjects she discussed, and that’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

A lot of celebrity memoirs have been released within the past couple of years, and it seems to be the new trend.  Even if you’re not a Feminist, but you love a bit of armchair travel, this one is an excellent choice.

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#FitReaders Check-In

FitReaders2016
  • This check-in is for January 29th – February 4th.
  • I met my step and mileage goals, so I’ll now be working towards an average of 6K steps per day.
  • If you’d like to add me as a friend on FitBit, you can find me HERE.
  • Yoga Workouts: 0/5
  • Steps: 38,900/35,000
  • Miles: 15.98/14
  • Flights of stairs: 20/30
  • Active Minutes: 126/175
  • Monthly 5K Races Completed: 1/10
  • Monthly 1 Mile Fun “Runs” Completed: 1/10
  • Total Money Donated: $5.58/$100.00