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review 2017-12-17 06:24
The Black Count
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo - Tom Reiss

So the cover picture is quite dashing and despite the fact that I listened to it in audiobook format, Scribd displayed the picture quite prominently on my screen... which resulted in an amusing moment where another person caught a glimpse of it before I could hide the window and I am sure they thought I was reading some trashy romance because their face scrunched up and they started laughing. Whoops! (^_^)

 

In reality, this is about the father of French author Alexandre Dumas, père (AKA that guy that wrote all those books they make movies based on). It encompassed his entire life from his childhood in the Caribbean to his death in semi-exile in France. The family's ancestry is discussed along with the complex sociocultural issues of the time in relation to attitudes about slavery, the effect of the American Revolution, the Napoleonic wars... Honestly, it is so fact-heavy that it was mind-boggling at times as my personal knowledge of history had to be rearranged in my head to make new connections with somewhat obscure topics like the French founding of Egyptology or Parisian theatre traditions in former French colony islands, etc.

 

As for the audiobook: male narrator, neutral tone with just enough inflection on the ironic points but not particular stand-out in any other way.

 

(I listened to this months ago and wrote up this review in June and it's been languishing in my drafts till now, but I stand by the 4.5 star rating.)

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review 2017-12-08 18:52
I Savored This Book
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories - David Lebovitz

I had so much fun reading this cookbook/memoir over the past week. I didn't hurry, just enjoyed the recipes, the little stories, and the vibrant pictures that David Lebovitz included. 

 

I will say that I found the recipes intriguing and thought everything sounded great. I am now addicted to salted butter and found out things that I never knew before regarding duck fat. Also I now want to buy all the duck fat and make it with potatoes. Mmmmmm.

 

I would say that I wish that we had more stories included. The recipes are great, but the book comes alive for me when Mr. Lebovitz gives readers an intimate look at his life in Paris. Whether it is finding out where to get kale or how to purchase cheeses, he makes everything seem like a fun adventure. 

 

One warning. Do not read this book if you are even a little bit hungry. 

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review 2017-11-24 05:30
Accessible adaptation of a classic tragedy
By Victor Hugo Manga Classics: Les Miserables Softcover - Victor Hugo

I quite liked this adaptation. I've always found Les Misérables to be pretty tough going, and the tragedy tended to overwhelm its beauty, so the stripped down format and much faster pacing of a graphic novel/manga version works much better for me. It still touches on the tragedy and fits in much of the complexity, while exposing the story structure more plainly. Also, it's pretty. Great way to introduce a classic in a more accessible way.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-07 07:09
Madeline and the Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans
Madeline and the Bad Hat - Ludwig Bemelmans

Title:  Madeline and the Bad Hat

Author:  Ludwig Bemelmans

Genre:  France / Friendship / Manners 

Year Published: 1956

Year Read: 1993

Series:  Madeline #3

Publisher: The Viking Press

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+  (Some Mild Violence and Mischievous Behavior)

 

Bad

“Madeline and the Bad Hat” is another book created by Ludwig Bemelmans’ famous “Madeline” collection (and was also transformed into an episode for the “Madeline” cartoon series) that details Madeline’s adventures in France. This time, Madeline meets up with Pepito, the Bad Hat, who causes trouble for Madeline and the other girls. This book might be the darkest of all the “Madeline” books, but its exciting storyline and cute illustrations make up for that. 

Ludwig Bemelmans does an excellent job on both illustrations and writing Madeline’s newest adventure. Ludwig Bemelmans writes the story in a rhyming text, the most memorable lines being: 

“And lo and behold, the former Barbarian, 
turned into a vegetarian.” 


Ludwig Bemelmans chooses his words carefully to make sure that the story moves along smoothly without making the rhyming text sound like nonsense. Ludwig Bemelmans’ illustrations are also highlighted in this book as he draws the characters in simplistic yet colorful images. I especially like the way that he makes some of the images be shown in yellow and white coloring and some images where he uses all types of colors such as the image where he shows the landscape of Paris. 

Bad

Parents should know that there are some violent and sad scenes in this book. Children might see the scenes where Pepito cuts off the chickens’ heads and eats them (even though we do not see the chickens’ heads being cut off but we do see a guillotine and chickens being dragged by their necks towards the guillotine) and the scene where he is attacked by dogs (this is more graphic as we see dogs jumping on top of Pepito) as both sad and violent. Parents who do not want their children to be exposed to this type of violence might want to skip these pages to avoid any discomfort from the children. 

“Madeline and the Bad Hat” is one of the most deep and darkest of all the “Madeline” books, but is also a cute story about the consequences of being bad and how one can redeem his or herself if they have done horrible things to other people such as Pepito trying to make things right after his bad behavior. I would strongly recommend this book to children ages five and up due to the smaller children being a bit worried about the violent and sad scenes displayed in this book.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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text 2017-11-02 18:36
Tannat: Buddy Read Fran├žais

... we're good to go.  Or, well, I am.  They got here much quicker than expected, and even both on the same day.  Your call now -- whatever is easier for you to track down at the library.

 

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