Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop

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I first came across the Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George on a list of must-read books for summer. The cover was stunning, and I adored the idea of a story set in a Parisian bookshop. I was about to order it, but then I had the chance to receive a review copy… So, here I am!

The story begins with an air of mystery, centered on the reserved Monsieur Perdu, proprietor of a little bookshop housed on a barge. The shop is called the Literary Apothecary, and Monsieur Perdu spends his days prescribing books for ailments of the heart. All the while, he holds his own heart shut, trying to forget how it was broken two decades ago.

Then a new neighbor, an unopened letter, and a best-selling author with writer’s block upset the bookseller’s predictable life. He hauls anchor on his bookshop barge and travels south, hoping to find the answers, peace and adventure that have so long evaded him.

The first thing I noticed about this book is the writing style. Each line is infused with poetry and soul. The pages are filled with poignant quotes, and I found myself wanting to read with a highlighter in hand. Monsieur Perdu describes one novel as “infused with enormous humanity,” and that seems the best summary of the Little Paris Bookshop as well.

At first glance, this is simply a story about books, but it delves so much deeper. This novel is a celebration of literature and life, of love and loss, and how each depends on the others for its true meaning. Perdu claims books are the only remedy for countless, undefined afflictions of the soul. As he diagnoses patrons and doles out paper cures, I found myself looking inward. I wondered which titles this bookseller might prescribe to me. While I read, I felt the profound words seeping into me… Tugging at my emotions, making my heart lift and dip. I expected this book to be one that changed me by the end.

Unfortunately, I didn’t reach the end. In order to explore the themes of love and loss, we’re taken on a tour of Perdu’s past… A past involving an affair that is fleshed out far too much for my taste. Initially, I skipped over these sections, but as the story progressed, they appeared with more frequency and detail. I started to dread picking up the book because I knew there’d be another indecent scene awaiting me. In the end, the beautiful writing, lovely setting, and deep characters weren’t enough to keep me. The story could have easily been told without those scenes. Instead, it was spoiled for me. And that right there is a tale of loss.

I give it 2 out of 5 stars, simply because of how well-written it was and because the concept was a good one. I would have dearly loved to rate it for more, but such is life and literature.

I received this book from the publisher for free, in exchange for my honest review. 

Adieu,

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Summer Reading Mission

Hello, Bookish friends!
How is your summer? I trust you’re getting to enjoy lots of spectacular stories!
What am I reading, you ask? Funny you should mention it. This summer, I’m taking part in the Fangirl Initiative’s Summer Reading Mission! I was delighted to put this challenge together, and I’m quite excited to share it here, albeit two weeks into the challenge. Oops.
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Anyway, the rules are simple: Read one book for each category below, until at least ten prompts are completed. If the mission is accomplished by August 30, there’s going to be a fancy certificate and bookmarks to download. Head over to the Fangirl Initiative to read the fully detailed post.
I shared part of my reading list in that original post, but since then, I’ve shuffled it around. I’m still not completely settled on this selection, but as of now, my summer reading plans are as follows:

Read a book…
  1. Written by an author with your first name (or the same first or last initial as you.)
    I’ll be reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, because not only is her name Sarah, she spells it with an H. Oh, and the book looks pretty awesome too.
  2. With a color in the title. I’ve already completed Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard this summer. You can read my review of it here. 
  3. That’s been sitting on your shelf for more than a year. I’m going to finally read Grave Consequences, the second book in Lisa Bergren’s Grand Tour series. I loved the first novel, Glamorous Illusions, and I’m shocked that I haven’t finished the other two books yet.
  4. That is historical fiction. I have a review copy of In Good Company by Jen Turano. It’s set in 1882, and just from the first few pages, I can tell I’m going to enjoy it.
  5. You picked for the cover. Another review copy is fitting into this spot- The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. Maybe I picked it for the title as much as the cover, but it looks like such a touching, whimsical story and I can’t wait to get into it. (Although I have a few other books to finish beforehand.)Cover Collage 1
  6. That’s first in a series. I’m completely late to the party, just like I was with the Harry Potter series, but I’m going to read the Lightning Thief and start the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.
  7. Involving time travel. Somehow, the only books I can think of featuring time travel are the River of Time novels by Lisa Bergren. And even though this post, 14 Reasons You Should Read the River of Time series, makes me want to reread them, I think I’ll be skipping this prompt for now. (Much as I miss my medieval Italy… And my favorite fictional guy.)
  8. Featuring a love triangle. I admit, love triangles can either be really entertaining or really annoying. From the back cover, I gather that there’s one in Defy by Sara Larson. Since I’m super interested in the rest of the story, it just works out for this challenge that there’s a love triangle, too.
  9. Set in the future. My current favorite futuristic books are the Remnants series, by Lisa Bergren. Although they’re dystopian, they put a fresh spin on the genre. I did a full review here. Since I technically finished these books in the spring, I’m not going to count them towards my summer reading. I’ll be reading Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson for this category instead.
  10. With more than 400 pages. I’m finishing the Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd for this category. I’m not crazy about it, but I’m too far and curious to quit now.
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  11. Narrated by a guy. I keep changing my mind about whether to read Hood by Stephen Lawhead, The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, or Eragon by Christopher Paolini… Or I could just continue reading the Percy Jackson series for this category. So many options.
  12. Retelling a fairy tale. I picked up a copy of the Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson for this prompt. It’s a retelling of Cinderella, and although Cinderella isn’t my favorite fairy tale, it’s a story I love nonetheless.
  13. That is a classic. I planned on reading Jane Austen’s final work, Persuasion, but since I’m currently reading Harper Lee’s “new” release, Go Set a Watchman, I’m going to list that one here. It didn’t fit anywhere else, but since I’m not going to give up reading, I want some credit. Technically, I don’t know if it counts as a classic yet, seeing as how it was just published… But by virtue of To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee, I proclaim Go Set a Watchman an instant classic.
  14. Outside your usual favorite genres. I hardly ever read contemporary, and I also don’t read books with romance as the main plot. Since I’ve been seeing it everywhere, I checked out a copy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I surprisingly enjoyed the first chapter, mainly for writing style and characterization. We’ll see what my thoughts are at the end.
  15. Recommended by a friend or fellow fangirl! There are too many books that fit this description. If I don’t read Eragon for prompt #11, I may fit it in here. Since the rules require I only read 10 books, though, I may not even get this far.

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Have you read any of these books? What’s on your summer reading list? If you need some ideas, why not jump in on this mission? 🙂

I’m off to read another chapter! (It would be kind of embarrassing to fail at the mission I assigned everyone else.)

Happy reading!

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Knot Another Book Review

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Is it just me, or is wedding season in full swing? Every time I turn around, it seems like there’s another engagement announcement or invitation arriving! Fortunately, I do love weddings. I’ve been planning imaginary ones since I could marry off my Barbie dolls. Pinterest has only fueled my mild obsession.

This is not a wedding blog, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, this is possibly the only wedding related post you’ll ever see here. The reason being, it’s also a book review. Since my last post was also a review, I apologize for the repetition. You can even feel free to skip this one. However, if you’re curious about The Knot: Little Books of Big Wedding Ideas, do read on.

I first spotted this adorable collection in Barnes & Noble, and I loved the idea of a miniature wedding encyclopedia. The Knot blog is one of my favorite wedding websites, so if the books were equally charming, I knew I’d love them. When I had the chance to review this set, I couldn’t resist.

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There are four little books in the collection: Cakes; Bouquets & Centerpieces; Details; and Vows & Toasts. The printing quality alone is fantastic, with hardcovers, glossy pages and a tidy little box to contain the volumes. Each book is sectioned off in a way that makes reference easy. There are also a lot of lists in each, which pleases me immensely. The books are brimming with vivid images, giving the collection the feel of a magazine. It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words, and so there’s a great deal of inspiration from the photos alone. It’s easy to flip through and see what appeals at first glance. The books are light reading, and would be fun for a bride to browse through with her mom or girlfriends.

As I read over these bitty books, I was fascinated by all the details. There are a great many ideas presented for each topic. More eclectic brides may have to employ their creativity, as these books tend to focus on a rather traditional, lavish style. The ideas here aren’t all budget friendly, but with some adaptation, they could be used as DIY inspiration or mimicked for less. Even if the specific examples are not used, they’re excellent for sparking more inspiration. Each design idea comes with an array of photos, so the details aren’t left to unclear imagination. The options presented are also various enough that most brides will find something to suit them- including a chocolate section in the Cakes book. 😉

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Besides inspiration, there are practical helps included. There’s lingo breakdown and definition sections for cakes, flowers and stationary; questions to ask during planning; and lists to simplify organization. My favorite part of the collection was the book on Vows & Readings. It includes a very useful ceremony order, and an excellent selection of both traditional and modern vows. I liked seeing the different options written out, and having suggestions on how to personalize vows and the ceremony. There’s also an excellent section on toasts and speeches, to make that aspect of the reception painless for the wedding party!

Although not (knot?) everything will apply from these books, they’re fabulous for inspiration. There are so many little details that go into the big day, and this collection does a terrific job of gathering those tidbits into a tidy set. The Knot: Little Books of Big Wedding Ideas can be referenced over and over, whether for the definition of dais or a checklist for invitations. It’s a wonderful collection, and well worth buying for yourself or as a gift for a newly-engaged friend.

Best wishes!

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Book Review: To Win Her Favor

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Tamera Alexander has long held a place on my list of favorite authors. It was one of her novels that made me a true fan of inspirational fiction. Whenever she releases a new book, I’m excited to meet another set of her engaging characters. To Win Her Favor was no exception.

This is the second of the Belle Meade Plantation novels, but I wouldn’t call it a sequel. It could easily be read without any knowledge of the first book, To Whisper Her Name. Some of the characters from To Whisper Her Name do get mentioned in To Win Her Favor, though, so if you’ve read the first Belle Meade book, it gives the second that much more depth.

The story follows Maggie Linden and Cullen McGrath, two individuals from opposite worlds but with similar spirits. Both are struggling to make their dreams a reality, without success. Then they’re thrown together in an arrangement that could either save or ruin them. Neither is thrilled by the circumstances, or the outlook of their future, but can they find a way to work things out?

(There are very slight spoilers below, but most of them are revealed on the back cover anyhow 😉 Proceed.)

Cullen and Maggie are both strong, fiery characters, with their fair share of merits and flaws. Personally, I sympathized a bit more with Cullen. It took me a little longer to connect with Maggie, but after getting to know her, I was cheering her on, too. There’s a lot of tension between the two of them, and it was fun to read a story where love takes time and effort rather than happening at first sight.

{I will pause to mention, since most of the plot unfolds between married characters, the romance is less reserved than it typically is for inspirational books. It wasn’t enough to deter me from reading To Win Her Favor, and I would still recommend it to more mature readers. Since I’ve seen other reviewers who were shocked by this element, though, I wanted to give a fair alert. This has been a public service announcement.}

To Win Her Favor

The contrast between Cullen and Maggie’s backgrounds brings greater depth to the story, beyond just romance. I was especially interested in how the novel explores some of the social issues of its time period. Although we’re far past 1869, the themes of prejudice and judgement are not so far removed from the struggles we face today.

The story is completed by a varied and vibrant cast of secondary characters. Their mixture of personality and purpose creates the feel of a Southern community. (At least, my imaginings of one. I have yet to travel that far south.)

Setting plays a great part in this story, from the post-Civil War time period, to the rich backdrop of Tennessee and the hints back to Ireland. Tamera is so skilled at painting a scene with words like brushstrokes. From her vivid descriptions, I could see the spanning plains and wide porches. As the book progressed, I was drawn further in to the setting, until opening each chapter felt like coming home.

At times, the story can be a little slow-paced, but I was never bored while reading. This was the sort of book I’d like to read on a porch while sipping sweet tea. It avoids being dull without becoming too intense. Since I read a lot of fast-paced, adrenaline-laced books these days, I enjoyed having a more relaxing read, and one that still captured my heart.

If you’re searching for a sweet, ultimately heart-warming story to read this summer, pick up a copy of To Win Her Favor. I’m confident it will win your favor, as it did mine!

I received this book from the publisher for free, in exchange for my honest review. 

What are you reading this summer? Leave the titles or names of your favorite authors  in the comments! 🙂

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