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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Dear Thirteen Year Old Me

dear thirteen year old me

Last week, I celebrated my last teenage birthday. Realizing I only have year left of being a teenager made me stop and think about the year I started being one. I remember wanting to avoid it, but at the same time savoring the new world of adolescence opening up to me.

Six years later, on the other side of teenage-hood, I’m very much different than when I first entered this territory. Yet underneath, I still see that thirteen year old. I still am that girl, in so many ways.

Looking back, there’s so much I wish I could tell my thirteen year old self. I wish I could take that eighth grade girl out for a hot fudge sundae and a heart to heart.

I haven’t perfected the art of time travel (yet), but some things still deserve to be said. This is what I would tell my thirteen year old self.


Dear Thirteen Year Old Me,

Being a teenager is scary, isn’t it? It means that you’re getting closer and closer to adulthood… Which seems even scarier. Right now, in eighth grade, you’re already stressing over figuring out college and a career. Please don’t. Those things will come soon enough, sooner than you’ve even factored into your plans. When the time is right, they’ll fall into place. Until then, enjoy your now. Celebrate every second of your life and don’t try to be a grown up too soon! Those moments tick by faster than you expect. Even though you feel stuck right now, and scared you’ll be that way forever, I promise you won’t be.

freely-10108You know those Scriptures you’ve read, about how God has a plan for you? Those words aren’t just pretty quotes. They are life, and they are truth. You have a future, outside of and in spite of all the details you’re trying so desperately to hold down.

You don’t have to figure everything out. You can’t figure it all out, and that’s perfectly okay. Do the best with what you have, where you are. Take the time to explore and try new things. Let yourself make mistakes. Messing up might be embarrassing or even painful, but the lessons you learn will outweigh all that. Finding yourself is a process of trial and error. And as far as I can tell, it’s one that lasts a long time- maybe even a lifetime.

You’re going to set out on ventures and realize they aren’t for you. You’re going to put your heart out there and have it come back broken. You’ll have days when you feel like you cannot do this, and you’d really like to run away. It’s okay. It’s life, and it’s not perfect. It wouldn’t be truly living otherwise. Embrace that mess, but more importantly, remember that you are not a messSure, you’ll have messy days and weeks, even months. But you are not defined by that.

You are not the incomplete math assignments, the fragile dreams, the missed devotions, the overslept mornings. You are not the image you criticize in the mirror, the acne you can’t get rid of, the skirt you can’t zip, the people who ignore you or the emotions that feel out of control. You are not the lies the world has told you or the ones you have told yourself.

You are smart, even if you have trouble focusing at times. In fact, you have trouble focusing because there’s so much going on in your brain. Your creativity is what causes you to dream big. Don’t ever stop.

Consistency will be a virtue you have to fight for. Even at nineteen, you’ll miss devotions some days. But God will not shut you out, even when you don’t make time for Him. His love is deeper and stronger than anything you’ve imagined. He will carry you when you can barely crawl to Him; He will understand the language of your tears and rejoice in your songs. You know those Narnia books you love so much? Aslan the Lion is still one of the best representations of Jesus’ character. He is not tame- you’ll never be able to box Him in- but He is good. So truly good. Hold onto that. His grace is about the great gift of salvation, but also about daily strength. It covers every flaw; it’s strongest when you’re weakest. There is nothing you must do to earn it, even though you try to do exactly that; there is no place it will not reach you. No day is too bad to be touched by it, and no situation is too insignificant. All of God’s grace is for all of your life.

freely-10019Speaking of grace, give yourself some. Stop standing in front of the mirror and focusing on everything you need to “fix.” You are beautiful. The family and friends who compliment you aren’t lying or just being nice. Don’t brush off what they tell you.

It isn’t vain to be confident. Insecurity is what’s trying to turn you vain, by pinning all of your attention to your appearance. Love your skin, red spots and all. Stop letting the number on the scale weigh your happiness. You wouldn’t believe it, but in six years, you’re going to weigh more than what you currently consider “too much”. And you’re going to be happy. So embrace what God has created you with now. Take care of yourself; be healthy, strong and confident. Live like you are beautiful, from the inside out- because you are. More importantly, live like you are loved, because more than anything, you are.

As you’re already discovering, there will be people who try to make you forget that. Not everyone will understand or even like you. Some of them won’t even bother to be polite. Be nice anyway. Pray for them. But don’t give them any space in your head. Their actions and opinions are on their shoulders. They have no bearing on you. I know it’s difficult, because you have a sensitive heart and wonder if you’ve done something to make them behave this way; if somehow, you deserve this. Keep that soft heart, but get rid of the idea that you’re to blame. Jesus dealt with more rejection and hate than any other person on the planet; none of us can be 100% popular in this world. Try not to take everything personally. A lot of the time, it actually isn’t personal, even if that’s the way it feels.

You’ve always been the shy girl, so you fret about making friends and being alone.
You don’t need to worry about that, though. Concert crowdLook at all the people in your life who already love you so dearly! Cherish them. Life’s meaning is love. As the years go on, you’ll meet many other incredible individuals. Some will stay only for a season; others will mean more than you ever expected. Both ways are part of this journey. Not everyone or everything is meant to last forever, even though goodbye is always hard. When you do find something lasting, don’t let fear keep you from giving the love you have to offer.

In fact, don’t let fear keep you from anything. It’s a daily lesson, but choose courage. Don’t let fear have the final say; that belongs to faith.

Don’t be afraid to grow up, dear girl. Yes, it’s scary. Even at nineteen, sometimes I’d like to just hide in a blanket fort. But if there’s one thing I wish I could tell you at thirteen, it’s simply this: It’s going to be okay; you’re going to be okay. Better than okay, even.

All my love,

Your nineteen year old self.

P.S. Mom told you most of this when you were thirteen, remember? You should have listened. 😉

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What would you tell yourself at 13 (or any specific age), if you could??

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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