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review 2017-10-18 20:07
Murderous Mistral: A Provence Mystery - Cay Rademacher

I enjoyed the author's new detective, Roger Blanc, for the most part and his descriptions of the region in France where Roger lives.

However, sometimes I felt the writing was overthought and overwritten. The sex scene with Roger and his superior? Why? Definitely just page filler for me and not needed at all. I don't even think it went with the character. A man who wondered if he had kissed or not kissed someone right.

A decent read albeit with a lot of unnecessary writing in which I enjoyed learning more French curse words.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2017-04-14 21:04
A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle

"A Year in Provence" won the British Book Awards' "Best Travel Book of the Year" in 1989 and without wishing to be disparaging, it is utterly charming! Month-by-month Peter Mayle describes his gradual assimilation into a new life in southern France and though not without challenges, the lifestyle retains enough of an idyllic quality as to be appealing to many a reader.


For example, the twelve months begins with a New Year's Eve six course lunch with pink champagne. Typically, Brits have been enviously familiar with the obsession with food, which looms large in French culture, from the virtues of olive oil to the daily purchase of bread - vive la difference!  More recently, of course, we are arguably catching up, but regular references to the importance of food and drink and the superior Gallic appreciation of all things gastronomical, does lend the book a sumptuous feel. Still, this is simply garnish for descriptions of the local characters and landscapes Mayle encounters, which form the main course of his book.


Just the idea of a farmhouse with six acres located between the medieval villages of Menerbes and Bonnieux seems exotic, "at the end of a dirt track through cherry trees and vines". And though the author recounts the unexpected difficulties with the climate and getting a series of tradesmen to deliver on the promised renovations, the Spring "evenings of corrugated pink skies..." seem fair compensation for the fact that the swimming pool isn't for all-year-round use!


However, for me, the highlight of the book is undoubtedly the rather genteel descriptions of a host of local people, with whom Mayle develops a seemingly genuine affinity and who in turn, appear to accept the Englishman seeking to share in their slice of the 'better life'. Indeed, the incessant visitors from home almost became intruders, inhibiting Mr & Mrs Mayle's desire to luxuriate in their new home and be seamlessly absorbed into the community.


The lasting impression is that our neighbour's  grass is inevitably greener, though it wouldn't necessarily be everyone's cup of tea. C'est la vie! 

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review 2017-02-28 09:53
One Sip at a Time- Keith Van Sickle

   This is a series of anecdotes, penned by an English-speaking American dabbling in life in France. It is an easy to read, short book with the capacity to raise a smile, if not to add a great deal to one’s own understanding of the entente cordiale. The author’s joie de vivre is infectious, even if one is sometimes left a little nonplussed about quite why.

   As the author points out himself, his and his wife’s, um- no actually, his, difficulties with a very different culture and language, provides the colour to this book. Note well, that the author declares himself as anything but some bilingual Québécoise superhuman. Van Sickle is the average, and more usually male, voyager who struggles in anything but a native lingo. Well, that’s the picture he paints. I suspect that in reality, he is the sort of person that brings enough of himself to any social situations to compensate for those that make little positive impact, whatever language is being manipulated. He certainly has the confidence to point out his insufficiencies to his reading audience, which does help draw one into his ‘sips’.

   In the connections that make up the thin thread of connective story we see the couple dip in and out of ‘francophone’ culture, in varying, if generally geographically close, locations. The book is not so very different from a couple of dozen books written by British and Irish individuals that have tried escaping the perpetual grey for the nicer bits of France. So this doesn’t add much in the way of knowledge to anyone that has read any of these, nevertheless, this book is well worth a read if one has any sort of interest in ‘French-English’ détente. This is lightweight draft, from a bonhomme raconteur that can only appeal to the many Anglophones that have faced the torture of trying to use school level French for real communication. So yes, definitely, this reviewer is amongst its natural audience.

   Van Sickle seems to be particularly keen on making the Swiss, the people of my adopted nation, the butt of several stories. He, and of course his misses, his linguistic enabler, lived for a while in the Swiss Romande Canton of Neuchâtel. While en Suisse, we are more inclined to find the butt of humour amongst the people of the ‘Hexagone’ that is truly French, and particular amongst thsoe fine residents of Paris that feel only they can speak la langue française. Certainly, in that superior capital, not even the people of the once officially independent province of Provence are recognised as speakers of anything close to acceptable French.

   Worth a read during the bon voyage.



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review 2016-11-15 19:02
Rezension "Mord in der Provence" von Sandra Åslund
Mord in der Provence: Kriminalroman - Sandra Åslund

Die im Rahmen eines Austauschprogramms in die Provence versetzte deutsche Polizistin Hannah rechnet mit ein paar ruhigen Wochen in Vaison-la-Romaine. Nachdem in der Region mehrere ungeklärte Selbstmorde verübt wurden, wird sie auf die Fälle aufmerksam und beginnt zu ermitteln, ob nicht doch etwas anderes dahinter steckt – sehr zum Missfallen ihres Vorgesetzten…


Die Geschichte wird in der dritten Person in der Vergangenheit geschildert, zum Grossteil aus der Sicht von Hannah. Aber auch einige der Nebenfiguren kommen zwischenzeitlich zu Wort. Obschon Hannah so im Mittelpunkt steht, hatte ich am Ende des Buches nicht wirklich das Gefühl, sie zu kennen. Ich kannte zwar ihre Vorliebe für guten Kaffee und attraktive Männer, verstand aber nicht wirklich, was sie beschäftigte und antrieb. Sie blieb für mich etwas blass. Die weiteren Figuren ertrinken fast in Klischees, sei es die quirlige Spanierin, die alle Männer verführt, der französische Liebhaber, der gerne auch mal zweigleisig fährt oder der Polizeichef, der Frauen bei der Polizei komplett unnötig findet. Und natürlich trinken alle Franzosen im Buch tagein, tagaus nur Alkohol, egal ob Wein oder Pastis. 


Die Handlung ist im Grunde in zwei Teile geteilt. Einerseits die Kriminalhandlung, die recht zäh beginnt und erst im letzten Drittel des Buchs, als langsam die Zusammenhänge klar werden, an Fahrt aufnimmt. Dabei ging Hannah als Ermittlerin eher wie eine Privatdetektivin als wie eine Polizistin vor – kein Wunder, wer gegen den Willen des Polizeichefs ermittelt, dem stehen wohl die üblichen Kanäle nicht offen. Andererseits wird ausführlich das Privatleben von Hannah und ihren Freunden beschrieben. So ausführlich, dass ich stellenweise eher das Gefühl hatte, einen Sommer-Liebesroman zu lesen als einen Krimi. Die Auflösung erschien mir etwas überstürzt, innert weniger Seiten war der Fall aufgeklärt und gelöst (wobei mich die Auflösung kaum überrascht hat, sie war recht vorhersehbar). Auch hatte ich den Eindruck, dass die Autorin etwas gar viele Themen in ihr Buch einbauen wollte, so dass die einzelnen kaum mehr Platz fanden, um sich angemessen auszubreiten.


Was mir hingegen sehr gut gefallen hat war die provenzalische Stimmung. Die Autorin schaffe es geschickt, mich gedanklich in Lavendelfelder, Weinberge und Olivenhaine zu versetzen. Als Sommer-Entspannungslektüre mit einem gewissen Krimi-Anteil eignet sich „Mord in der Provence“ daher gut.


Mein Fazit

Schönes Provence-Sommer-Feeling, aber etwas wenig Krimi

Source: aglayabooks.blogspot.com/2016/11/mord-in-der-provence.html
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text 2016-07-31 06:09
Book Haul - July 30th
Shades of Grey - Jasper Fforde
A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books - Rob Kaplan,Harold Rabinowitz
Book - John Agard,Neil Packer
Picnic in Provence - Elizabeth Bard
The Book of Lost Books - Stuart Kelly
Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - Rebecca Paley,Leah Remini
The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman
The Clasp - Sloane Crosley
The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe - Kelli Ann Morgan

The postman got a break from me this week, but one of my locals and my library, did not.


Between my library system getting a few upgrades and my taking the time to dig around their website a bit more, I'm figuring out how to get more out of it than I have up until now. They have a user list function, so I've been creating a list of books as I come across interesting titles.  As you can see, it's working well so far.


My library haul includes Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.  This is going to be my Science Fiction read for Summer Book Bingo.  I dislike dystopian settings, but I dislike space and AI fiction more - and I love Fforde's other work so I'm totally willing to give this a go for the humour alone.


I also picked up a couple of titles I found in an article on LitHub that recommended books about books: A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan  and The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly.  Sitting next to The Book of Lost Books was Book by John Agard, which looked cute and short.


The library haul was rounded off with Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard  and Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini and Rebecca Paley  because I've seen so many good things said about both here on BookLikes.


Two of the three bookshop buys were impulses from shelf browsing; I had just read about The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe by Kelli Ann Morgan  mere hours before seeing it on the shelves, so that felt like karma.  The Clasp by Sloane Crosley looks funny and I've read her essays - they're hysterical.  The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman  because it's birds, science and look at that cover!


Total new books: 9

Total books read this week: 9

Total physical books on TBR: 227


I hope everyone has had or is having (depending on which side of the dateline you're on) a fabulous weekend!

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