September 2021 Wrap-Up

With September behind us and October ahead of us, here is what I read last month. I reread Pause by Kylie Scott because why not. I also read Smoke Signal by Marie Benedict and Kate Quinn. It’s a historical novella which takes place during and after WWII. The best part about this story is that Agatha Christie is a main character. The mystery tale, which is based on a true story, is perhaps an homage to the great lady herself. Have you read it?

The big read of the month was Lotharingia by Simon Winder. It’s a historical account of France, Germany and the smaller countries in-between and how they came into existance. It’s action-packed history and reading the book made me feel like I was listening to a gossip session with a historian. If you are into history and gossip (haha), then I recommend this book. But if you frown upon making history fun and being gossipy about historical figures, then you’d best skip it.

A moody picture of Chateau d’ Amboise in the Loir Valley for your Victober inspiration.

I’m currently reading Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell in honor of Victober. Are you participating in Victober this year? I hope so!

xoxo, Jane

PS. I’m on Instagram where I post about books and tea. Stop by and say hi.

Currently Reading: Lotharingia by Simon Winder

I’m currently reading Lotharingia: A Personal History of France, Germany and the Countries In Between by Simon Winder.

Simon Winder is a witty, sarcastic type of writer. I like his writing style a lot. Lotharingia chronicles what happened after Charlemagne’s three grandsons each inherited a country: France, Germany and Lotharingia. As you probably already guessed, Lotharingia doesn’t exist anymore. It ended up becoming all the countries in between Germany and France: Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands…

Mr. Winder traveled widely throughout Germany, France, Austria and all the other countries in between. He compiled his personal experiences into a set of three books. Lotharingia is the third and final book in this series. The book is not a memoir, not even a travel memoir. It’s simply history retold through the personal experiences of the author. If you like history, then you might want to check out Simon Winder. But if you don’t like history told through a personal perspective with a lot of sarcastic remarks, then he might not be the writer for you.

A snippet of his writing style: “Bouillon’s fame is over nine hundred years old, through its association with Godefroy of Bouillon, the leader of the homicidal outing later known as the First Crusade.” As you can image, I’m laughing quite a lot while learning about history.

What are you currently reading?

xoxo, Jane

PS. Enjoy two moody, brooding pictures of the Tuileries Garden below.

Flaneuring in Paris

Spotting the Tour Eiffel from the grounds of the Louvre.

Even as I’m writing this, it doesn’t quite feel real to say that I live in Paris now. It’s very surreal. My husband’s job brought us to the City of Light and it still hasn’t sunk in. But that hasn’t stopped me from taking advantage of every possible sight during my every spare moment. It’s a dream come true to flâneur* in and around Paris. Strangely enough, I don’t have many pictures to share with you because I’ve been mostly soaking in the sights and sounds without a camera. I do plan on changing that, so stay tuned for Paris pictures in the coming weeks.

A gorgeous display at Librairie Galignani.

I’m sure you’re not surprised that I visited as many bookshops as possible. My favorite bookstore is Librairie Galignani on Rue de Rivoli. It’s the oldest English bookstore in Paris, founded in 1801. They have a wide variety of English-language books, especially books not published in the United States. They are also known for their excellent selection of fine arts books. It’s a dreamy bookshop and I’m so happy I discovered it.

A very short flower walk video. Enjoy!

I will leave you with a short flower walk from my recent visit to Invalides.

Have a great day!

xoxo, Jane

*flâneur noun – someone who walks around not doing anything in particular but watching people and society (Cambridge English Dictionary)

Hello

I haven’t been reading or writing much, which is why it’s been quiet on here. I’ve been taking long walks, cooking, watching a lot of tv and reflecting on life.

But this morning, I started reading a new Harlequin Historical so I think I’m back on track.

After the rain.

I don’t have any pictures of books to share, but I do have some spring flowers for you.

I took a walk after a rain shower and the reminder of spring and rebirth all around helped lift my spirits.

I can’t resist a blossom, that’s for sure. I read somewhere that it helps to find something to be grateful for every day. Well, today I’m grateful for the flowers all around us.

I hope wherever you are and whatever you are up to that you are safe and happy.

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #79

Autumn!

I binge-watched Netflix’s Emily in Paris. It’s an adorable new series about a marketing executive from Chicago who takes a job in Paris. She learns to navigate French work culture, dating and getting by on zero French. The Atlantic wrote that Emily in Paris is an Irresistible Fantasy. But French critics blasted it as “embarrassing.” Have you seen it?

I’m still reading How to Be a Victorian and listening to Shirley by Charlotte Brontë and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. And since we’re talking about Victober, why was Victorian London so smelly?

Speaking of Victorian London, have you seen this interesting article about Queen Victoria’s goddaughter?

Have a lovely October day and a nice weekend!

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #75

Hello! I hope you’re doing well. What are you currently reading? I’m listening to A History of Russia by The Great Courses. I use my Audible credits on The Great Courses and it’s so worth it for me because I love learning about new subjects and histories. Check out your library first if you are interested in The Great Courses. They may have their audiobooks or CDs for you to borrow.

Just a few links today. Happy Reading!

All Possible Plots by Major Authors.

Girl in Dior.

The Unexpected Politics of Book Cover Design.

The Enola Holmes Movie is Getting Sued For Giving Sherlock Holmes Feelings.

Netflix has an upcoming documentary series about Challenger: The Final Flight. It will be a difficult watch for me knowing the fate of the dear astronauts. It’s just so sad and I wish the outcome was different.

And I leave you with a quote: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” – Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #70

From a recent scenic walk.

Hi there. I hope you’ve been well. I’ve been busy with work, writing and reading books. There are always good books to read, so at least there is that. I’m currently reading a fun YA, Model Undercover: A Crime of Fashion by Carina Axelsson and listening to the Gilded Age series produced by American History Tellers podcast.

Today’s reading links are a hodgepodge of articles, such as how a Russian defector became a warning from Moscow to London. Also, a very old article about the Irish Library founded in Monaco by Princess Grace. And, the myth and reality of the Parisian woman.

Happy Reading!

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #59 (Cold War Edition)

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I don’t have any appropriate pictures for this post, so let’s just pretend this trail from my walk is a dead drop.

I’m working on a series of novels (Book 1 is in the editing phase, Book 2 needs to be rewritten and Books 3, 4 and 5 are in the draft outline phase) set during the Cold War. So, I thought I would make today’s reading links all about the Cold War.

What I Learned From Women Who Were Prisoners of the Gulag.

The Long History of the Red Scare as an American Political Tactic, an interview with Kathryn Olmstead, professor of history at the University of California, Davis.

Capitalism’s Baby Mania.

Nazi who arrested Anne Frank became a spy for West Germany.

Activist or spy? The curious case of a Cold War nuclear scientist.

Four Books about the Cold War.

My life under surveillance after I married a KGB agent.

Not about the Cold War, but set during the Reagan administration: Dee Snider on PMRC Hearing: I Was a Public Enemy. Dee Snider of the band Twisted Sister talks about his senate hearing. It’s a fascinating read because he is being brutally honest and doesn’t mind calling people on their hypocrisy. I had no idea that this was even an issue in the 1980s. Sometimes I wonder if politicians create drama and waste taxpayer money because they have too much time on their hands. (Sounds like Dee would agree with me.)

Let me know what you think of the articles.

xoxo, Jane

My reading life during the pandemic

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Enjoying a cup of tea while reading Square Haunting.

I no longer have a reading routine. It’s become quite erratic. I used to be able to sit down and devour a book in days. Now, almost nothing can hold my attention. I flitter from book to book, leaving unread novels collecting dust on the coffee table. With few exceptions, I don’t actually like not finishing books so I promised myself I’ll get back to these unfinished books someday soon.

Currently, I’m dividing my sporadic attention between two books: Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic and Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting.

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On the upside, the pandemic is forcing me to enjoy slow living.

Mary Stewart writes an excellent romantic suspense novel. She has the ability to transport the reader to the actual crime scene, almost as if we are embodying the heroine. This Rough Magic is set in Greece, where the heroine, Lucy, discovers a dead body on the beach. Normally, I’d feel invested in solving the crime, but I just want to finish the book to see who did it. What has happened to me? Also, I can’t tell who the male hero is supposed to be. There are several male characters in this book and all of them seem hero-ish to me. My only complaint with Mary Stewart books is that it takes her a long time to get to the romance portion of the plot. I suppose my complaint is not legitimate because she is the queen of romantic suspense so the romance aspect of the book will be secondary.

Square Haunting is set between the two world wars and focuses on five women (Hilda Doolittle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Jane Ellen Harrison, Eileen Power and Virginia Woolf) living and working in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London. While it’s fascinating, and I look forward to reading a page or two every day, it’s taking me a long time to get through it. I don’t know if it’s because it’s very academic and at times dense or because of the uncertain times we live in. Maybe a little of both. It’s a fascinating read about these five inspiring women because it gives me an intimate glimpse into their lives and now I feel invested in them. I plan to write my thoughts in a future blog post when I finish the book.

I hope we will all see a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, I hope you can get lost in, and concentrate on, good books.

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #58

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Today’s reading links are brought to you by Mother Nature. Enjoy! Have a great day!!

The debate: how many books should you have on the go at once?

This was really fun. Highly recommended to take the quiz. This Soothing Quiz Will Tell You What Feel-Good Book To Read.

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Our new lockdown game: judging famous people by their bookshelves.

Ok, I loved this! I own the same books as a duchess. Footnotes: The Duchess of Cambridge’s viral bookshelf.

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This article is old but it still applies, especially now. The Guardian view on the joy of books: time for guiltless pleasures.

And in case you missed it, pairing books with tea (Emma).

xoxo, Jane