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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 2016-08-21 17:14
Diappointment after her first book.
All Good Things: From Paris to Tahiti: Life and Longing - Sarah Turnbull

Turnbull wrote a charmer memoir ('Almost French') about living, working and marrying a Frenchman. When I read she had another book out, I bought it thinking it would be an excellent sequel.


This book chronicles Turnbull and her family's (not really a spoiler but she focuses on getting pregnant) journey from Paris to Tahiti. At first it had the same easy, interesting conversational tone as Turnbull relates her and her husband's departure from Paris and move to Tahiti. The rest really isn't much of a spoiler (it's been written about elsewhere and there's a clue as to what happens in her bio (Which is at the beginning of the book? Seems odd that it's not at the end).


That's the book in a nutshell. I adored 'Almost French' and unfortunately I think this book just couldn't meet those expectations. It was completely wrong for me. I have no interest in Tahiti (I know it's a place but I am not a tropical person at all). I was not expecting the text to focus a lot on her fertility treatments and struggles (which is certainly not bad in itself but that's not what the book was touted to be about), plus lacking the same charm and fun of the original. Time also probably doesn't help as I haven't reread Turnbull's first book and wonder if I'd still feel the same.

So, maybe if you're into globe-trotting, Tahiti, a woman writing about her fertility issues and journey, this book might be for you. As it was, it was another book that reminded me that while I may love a certain text by one author, it's never a guarantee I'll enjoy another one by the same person. Borrow from the library.

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photo 2015-11-03 09:57
Life, Sex and Ideas: The Good Life without God - A.C. Grayling
The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism - A.C. Grayling
Ideas That Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century - A.C. Grayling
Scepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge - A.C. Grayling
A C Grayling

Very happy to listen to a talk by A C Grayling. 


He talked about being kind, and the use of stories and important of literature.


He also said that human interaction is important for the self. That's kind of saying interacting with important for human brain development. That's true for language development. 


And to be kind. Treat other people like a painting and put them in a "good light". 


Also, if one asked what the person's most interested in, you would get a brilliant answer even if this person might not share interest with you in other areas. 


So be kind. 

He is also a proud atheist.

During the question and answer session. Someone ask him why he is a militant atheist, and he said there is no such thing. There is no such thing as a "militant non stamp collector.


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review 2015-04-05 00:00
Good Grief!: How to Create an Oasis When Life Is a Desert
Good Grief!: How to Create an Oasis When Life Is a Desert - Erica McNeal This invaluable book should be read by anyone who loves someone grieving, especially if enduring the journey through cancer, miscarriages or losses of children. As someone who has done all this, Erica guides you in what to say and do, and more importantly, what not to say and do, to help your loved one through the pain without adding to it.
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text 2015-02-27 20:51
This week's book haul
Fighting Silence - Aly Martinez
Dragon Bound - Thea Harrison
By Any Other Name (Forbidden Book 1) - J.M. Darhower
The Good Life Gets Better: Panning for Gold - Dorian Amos
The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild - Lynn Schooler
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