Thursday, June 24, 2021

Paris in July 2021: A Reading List


It's almost time... Paris in July begins in a week. This event has been a blogger favorite since 2010. Hosted once again at Thyme for Tea, Tamara says:
Here, at Paris in July blogging central, we are connecting you with other lovers of Paris through the month long blogging event. Over the past 10 years, participants have used this event to post about new recipes, favourite holiday memories, best books on Paris, set in Paris, about Parisiennes, music from Paris, best cocktails found in Paris, favourite walks in Paris.... almost anything about Paris or France. 

We cant really go to Paris right now, but here we will share many different sides of our love of french things, and Paris. 

July will be a busy month for me. I'll be visiting family for the first half of the month, so my participation may be minimal. However, I still hope to try a new recipe and read a book or two for this event. 

My List of Reading Possibilities:

Fresh Water for Flowers by ValĂ©rie Perrin,  translated by Hildegarde Serle
 Added to my tbr list after reading Diane's review

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
This classic has been on my list for years.

The American by Henry James
Another classic that has been on my list for a long time...

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes
A short story by Jojo Moyes should be fun.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 
...because I must be the only person who hasn't read this book!

The Pleasing Hour by Lily King
Writers & Lovers  will be one of my favorites this year... this is King's debut novel.

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac
A recommendation from Sara at Fiction Matters

by Alexander Lobrano
This is a new memoir sounds delicious!

Will you be spending Paris in July this year? The sign up post is here.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Father's Day Sunday Salon

Hello, friends and welcome to another weekly wrap-up. It's been mostly cloudy here for days with on-and-off rain, less-than-impressive sunsets, and plenty of mosquitoes. Yes, "rainy season" is officially here. I was still able to walk most mornings and managed to finish two audiobooks along the way. 

Last week we got ready for our trip north - the car was serviced, I stocked my FIL's freezer with a variety of his favorite soups and baked goods, and we finalized plans to see fully-vaccinated friends along the way. The only thing left to do now is pack!

Finished last week//

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by the author

My annual foray into YA literature, this book is brimming with family, food, and a dash of magic! Emoni is a high school senior. She lives with her abuela, has a preschool daughter, and dreams of becoming a chef. Over the course of her senior year, she struggles with decisions that will effect the course of her life. The book is very real, beautifully written, and the author does a fabulous job narrating the audio edition. In fact, she won the 2020 Audie Award for author narration.  

Since I usually only read one YA novel each year, I select one that comes highly recommended. Thanks to Vicki and to Kaytee, from Currently Reading podcast, for pointing me in Elizabeth Acevedo's direction. If your library offers hoopla, the audio is available there for immediate download.

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

If you're searching for a vacation read that will keep you turning the pages, look no further. From Philadelphia's Main Line to the outer reaches of Cape Cod, this #MeToo novel is populated with great characters. It's a story about friendship, coming to terms with the past, and forging a way forward. It even delivers a twist or two. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did... couldn't put it down! 

by Eunsun Kim, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

So, it turns out I started listening to this book thinking it was something else... the cover similarities are striking. I found it in my audible account (must have been free with audible plus), likely added after reading Nothing to Envy.

This is one young woman's story of her nine-year journey to escape North Korea, through China and eventually to South Korea. It is a harrowing tale of strength and bravery, and one which is important to share with the world. Although the book was not especially well-written, I am glad to have listened to it. And I'd still like to read The Girl with Seven Names at some point... 

About to start//

by George Packer, narrated by the author

I enjoyed Packer's The Unwinding  a few years ago and am curious to hear his take on our current situation. I used an audible credit to download this book.

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

I won a kindle edition of this new release in a goodreads giveaway and am planning to get started later today...

Later today//  

We're planning a Father's Day brunch here at home. Later this afternoon, we'll take Father's Day dinner over to my FIL.

The week ahead//

Will be all about final preparations and packing for the trip north... we hit the road Saturday. I may post again before we leave, but will likely take a blog break while we're visiting family. Look for me again sometime after mid-July.

How was your week? What are you reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

A Mid-June Sunday Salon

Another week has passed and somehow it's mid-June already. Highlights of the week include browsing at the library for the first time since March 2020, having new friends over for a glass of wine on the lanai, and some beautiful sunsets on the beach.

Finished last week//

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney 

There's nothing I like more than a novel about families and relationships. Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's debut novel,  The Nestwas a favorite a few summers ago and I've eagerly awaited her sophomore effort. I was on the library hold list before it was even released and Good Company did not disappoint!

Once again, I found a well-written novel with fully developed characters and complex relationships. The women are lifelong best friends, the two couples become like family to each other, and Sweeney fully explores the marriage of Flora, our main character, and her husband Julian, an actor. A theater company, named Good Company, is a connecting presence throughout the novel. 

Overall Good Company seemed quieter and more complex than The Nest, and it felt more substantial, too. It's safe to say that I will read anything Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney writes!

After borrowing the book from the library, I discovered that Marin Ireland (a new favorite) narrates the audio version. I used an audible credit to make it a read/listen combination.

I don't read much poetry, but really enjoyed working my way through this collection over the past couple of weeks. As you can guess from the title, the poems are all about being a woman, our bodies, marriage, and motherhood. I'd hoped to share a poem here, but the collection has disappeared from my kindle. You'll want to check this out for yourself.

Current reading//

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I'm almost done with a read/listen combination of this YA novel. The audio version is narrated by the author and she does a fantastic job. I usually only read one or two YA titles each year, but am enjoying this very much.

Paris in July//

It's almost here! Tamara at Thyme for Tea is, once again, hosting Paris in July! This even has been a blogosphere favorite since 2010. It's also one of the reasons I found myself browsing the shelves at the local library... you can never have too many reading possibilities. You'll find all the details in Tamara's announcement post.

In the kitchen//

My main goal last week was to cook from the freezer. I've been slowly using meat, poultry, and seafood purchased and frozen over the past six months. I always try to empty it out when we'll be away for any length of time... and it's never a good idea to leave a full freezer during hurricane season! 

I made Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup and Shrimp Yaki Udon , which my husband liked even more than the chicken version from a couple of weeks ago. I also tried Ground Turkey, Asparagus, and Basil Stir-Fry, a new recipe from the Washington Post. It was really good, and I prepared the meal in under 30 minutes! I used ground chicken from the freezer instead of turkey, low sodium soy sauce, and apricot preserves instead of jam. We'll definitely have this dish again.

The week ahead//

I almost hate to think about it, but we're making plans for our journey north at the end of the month. The thought doesn't provoke the same pandemic-related anxiousness I felt last August, but there's still a lot to do whenever we leave for a couple of months.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Sunday Salon: Good Reading and "Normal" Activities

 Hello from sunny Florida, where it's beginning to feel a lot like summer! Hurricane season officially started this week and the typical rainy season pattern of late afternoon and early evening storms seems to be here to stay. We actually need the rain and, most nights, still get a decent sunset. So, no complaints yet!

We continue to add more pre-pandemic activities back into our lives. Last week I shopped for lamps to go with the new bedroom furniture, went out for lunch, and took in the fiber arts exhibit at the Marco Island Center for the Arts. Each activity brought an unexpected amount of joy... guess I'd missed things like that even more than I'd realized.

Read this week//

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel since The Lowland in 2013. In 2012, she moved with her family to Rome to experience total immersion in Italian culture and become fluent in the language. Her nonfiction debut, In Other Words, written in Italian was the result. It was translated into English by Ann Goldstein. Now, with Whereabouts, she has written her first novel in Italian and then translated it into English herself.  

This is a short novel, under 200 pages, and there really isn't a lot of plot. Instead, we have a slowly emerging character portrait of an unnamed female narrator. It's told in the first-person through a series of short chapters... almost vignettes. Set in various locations around an Italian city with chapters entitled On the Street, In the Office, At the Trattoria, etc., the narrator relays instances of belonging and isolation. And she seems torn deciding which she prefers... leaving the reader feeling slightly unmoored as well.

As always with Lahiri, the writing is the main attraction. This novel seems especially impressive since it was written in a relatively new foreign language. Give yourself a few chapters to settle into the short, episodic flow... you will be rewarded.

Current reading//

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

As expected, my library hold came in last week. When I realized that  Marin Ireland narrates the audio version, I decided to use an audible credit and make it a read/listen combination. The Nest  was an enjoyable summer read a few years ago and, just over 25% in, this is shaping up to be another.

On the blog//  May Wrap-Up and June Reading Plans

In the kitchen//

The big hit last week was Chicken Yaki Udon from Vinkalinka. This Asian-inspired dish really did take just 20 minutes to prepare (be sure to cut the veggies before you start cooking) and was so flavorful! I followed the recipe exactly as written, using Worcestershire in place of the tsuyu/dashi stock. There were no leftovers, although I would have loved to have some for lunch the following day. I will definitely make this again and plan to experiment with shrimp and tofu, too.


I also made a  One Pan Roasted Fish with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes from the NYTimes  using snapper. You could use almost any white fish, but may need to adjust the cooking time depending on thickness. If you can't get the recipe and would like it, let me know. I'll copy and email it to you.

That's it for my week. How was yours? What are you reading today?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

May Wrap-Up and June Reading Plans

 Before we get too far into June, I'd like to take a quick look back at May. It was our first full month of immunity... and I tried to make the most of every day. We ate at our favorite restaurants (still outdoors since the weather is so nice), visited with fully-vaccinated friends, shopped in stores I haven't visited in over a year, and even managed an overnight getaway to Key Largo.

 May highlights include//

  • beautiful flowers for Mother's Day 
  • Trees bursting with colorful blooms all over the island 
  • Nesting owls (and fledglings!) on the beach path 
  • Overnight trip to Key Largo
  • Bedroom furniture finally delivered, I unpacked my suitcase
  • Gorgeous sunsets on the beach
  • Visits with friends

Books Read in  May//

I didn't really stick with my list of reading possibilities last month, only reading one of them. But I still read five good books and, in the process, rediscovered historical fiction.

My favorite May book//

June Reading Possibilities//

How did your May reading go? What was your favorite book last month?

Key Largo, May 2021


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