Tuesday, April 29, 2014

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- The Pretty One

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I picked this book up, The Pretty One by Lucinda Rosenfeld, yesterday and read through the first chapter loving it. As I kept reading through the evening, it lost some of its luster. I hope it picks up again.
Here's the intro:
Olympia Louise Hellinger had always been the "Beautiful One" in her family. Among her sisters, she was also understood to be the Artistic One, the Flaky One, the Chronically Late One, the Mellow One, the Selfish One, and the Unambitious One. Whether reality reflected reputation was a matter of opinion. But at thirty-eight she was the events coordinator of a small museum of contemporary Austrian art, located on the Upper East Side. She was also a single mother. Little wonder that, as much as she loved spending time with her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Lola, she also longer for more hours to herself. 
The book is about three very different sisters and their relationships.
Also this week  is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read  and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser.
Here's a teaser from page 56:
Twenty years later he'd found her on Facebook and sent her a message that said, Yo Hellinger, what's up? Still think of the GREAT TIMES we had together. Things had escalated from there. 
Reconnecting with an old love on Facebook after 20 years, when she is married with three kids, does not bode well.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Ἁ Bientôt

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

I'm always in the market for a book set in France, and I especially take advantage when they are marked down to 99 cents. That's how I picked up Ἁ bientôt by Patricia Dixon.
The story is set in Portsmouth, England, which is where it begins as the main character's husband dies. But the matter is complicated because the widow had found out her husband had been cheating on her and planned to confront him the day that he died. With her two oldest children pursing their careers, her daughter off to university, and no one else in her big house, she goes on a vacation to France and makes close friends of the people who run the bed and breakfast. She also meets a handsome man who enjoys vacation in France too. Before she can put her life back together though, she has to learn what she can about her husband's affair.
I enjoyed the story and the characters in this book. The main character Anna falls in love with France as much as I have, but she is lucky that she can zip over there fairly often.
 ...there was ample opportunity to take in her surroundings and soak up the scenery unfolding around her, passing through small villages with their boulangeries, patisseries, cafés and imposing churches, everywhere seemed so peaceful. Winding down the windows so the breeze cooled her flushed cheeks, Anna breathed in the country air, the early afternoon was warm and the honey gold sun glowed in a pale blue sky patched with white clouds, her heart felt giddy with the realisation of her achievement.
"Look at me," she thought, "I'm here in France, all by myself, I did it, I actually did it." 
As you can probably tell from the excerpt, the book needed more proofreading to be a great read. I gave it three stars for the story and would have given it four if not for the mistakes in it.
The punctuation mistakes were mostly with apostrophes and run-on sentences. I can easily overlook these since I am used to reading student papers. The rest of the writing was well done.
But I must ask my British friends about some strange wording that I saw in this book. Maybe it is common in the UK to say someone "was sat" or "was stood" in places that American English would have said someone sat or someone stood. Please solve that mystery for me.
The book ended with all loose ends tied up, but may have gone on a bit too long. It definitely gives the reader his/her money's worth.
What are you dreaming about today?
Thanks for playing along.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday Snapshot -- Blooming Spring

West Metro Mommy Reads

This picture doesn't do the view justice, but on my run each morning, I go down this boulevard. The trees are blooming on either side and they reach toward each other forming a white arch of blossoms over the road. When I run under it, I feel like a bride.
From that same spot, I turned toward the east and saw the sun rising. It turned the sky beautiful colors so I'm sharing the sunrise with you too.
Now you can see why I love morning runs so much.

Friday, April 25, 2014

To-Do List

Yesterday I was kvetching about my to-do list. At the time, I didn't realize that it would have another item thrown in there.
I got a text from Grace in the morning asking if she could borrow my wedding dress.
No, she isn't getting married, but her character, Elaine, in The Graduate is. The dress they had found for her buttoned up the back in those tiny, white, cloth-covered buttons. She couldn't possibly make a wardrobe change in that.
The problem with wearing my wedding dress -- I'm seven inches shorter than Grace.
I immediately sent texts to all my tall friends asking if they had their wedding dresses and whether they zipped up the back.
Luckily, I found one.
So added to my day, a drive over to my friend's house to pick up the dress. A drive up to Grace at school where she tried on the dress and felt so gorgeous in this dress with its full skirt of tulle.
I hope she feels this giddy when we go shopping for her actual wedding dress someday. 
I'm still getting through the rest of the things on my to-do list, like calling car insurance agents, but tonight, I get to go watch Grace perform.
Here's another photo she sent in her hips 60 wear.
Hope your Friday night is groovy, baby. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kid Whirlwind and College

My life has been crazy so I haven't been blogging regularly.
People say, "Oh, too many classes to teach?" But really, most of the craziness comes from my kids.
We knew when Tucker was born (our 3rd) that we had surpassed our limits as parents, but it was too late to go back; we could only go forward. And, we love all of our kids passionately (which might be part of the problem), but their worries and woes frequently weigh on us and take a lot of time.
Famous columns from a building that burned down
years ago on the campus of Mizzou
Problems are working out and in the next few days, I hope to spill the whole story about an incident that made me feel like I was living out an episode of The Sopranos.
For today, I'm enjoying the knowledge that I don't have to go to work today because it is finals week for one of the colleges where I teach.
I also relished a 6-mile run that ended at Starbucks.
This is the indoor water park and giant hot tub at Mizzou
Mostly though,  my happiness comes from the fact that I'm very relieved my youngest son has chosen a college that is within a two-hour drive. He was leaning toward a college eight hours away and I had to beg him to reconsider.
When Spencer's phone broke, it took a tremendous amount of effort and calling in favors from old friends in the area to get him a new phone while he lived 16 hours away and had no way to communicate or get to the store.
When Grace was sick at school 10 hours away, she had to walk herself to the hospital for blood tests and walk herself to the pharmacy for medicine.
Yes, it helps them learn responsibility, but it leaves me a nervous wreck.
Tucker knew these stories and stuck to his plan to attend Mizzou -- the University of Missouri.
When we visited, I didn't even think he like it that much. He was anxious to get back on the road home.
And we have no contacts in Missouri -- no old friends to call on, no family to fall back on.
Finally on Tuesday, I told him the story about leaving his sister and brother at college.
It wasn't as bad with Grace because the college, 10 hours from home, had a plan. They had a convocation, complete with bagpipes and lit candles. Then each dorm broke up into groups to begin activities. Parents were expected to give hugs and move on to the parking lot.
I'll never forget Grace's eyes bright with tears as she stood in a circle of her dorm mates then turned around and gave us a pleading look. We walked out, but that was easier than when we left Spencer.
We moved Spencer into his college dorm room over 1000 miles from home. The school had a convocation
ceremony and then a picnic. We ate. We talked with families around us and then we needed to move on to my parents' house about 90 minutes away. Spencer walked us to our car and we left him there in the parking lot -- alone.
I just couldn't do that with Tucker.
"I know you'll make friends," I told Tucker, "but it's so hard on my to leave you there alone."
Tucker didn't respond to my story so I dropped it.
I had told him he needed to figure out what steps to take next for going to Mizzou. I had to support him.
Two days later, he said he guessed he could go to a college in Ohio. He would room with his best friend Josh and the two of them would have two unknown roommates so they didn't get stuck in a rut with only kids from our hometown.
"You can go to Mizzou," I said. "I don't want  you to choose just for me."
But he had talked it over and they made plans and the relief I felt washed over me. He can catch a bus home for $10. I can be there in two hours if he is hurt or sick. I can drive down a new phone. Or I can go down for lunch if he, or I, feel lonely.
So today is full of paperwork, making sure he accepts the school's offer. I also have to grade papers and get final grades in. Look into changing our insurance company. Deal with some payments to Spencer's schools.
In spite of the busy work, underneath it all, I'm so happy that Tucker won't be going far away.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Pre-France Preparation

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even a pastry? Or if  you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
I dream about moving to France a lot.
For a while it seemed really far away, but now, with my youngest graduating high school and going off to college in the fall, it feels closer.
And I'm buying into the philosophy that you should start living your life the way you want it to be.
It's gotten to the point where anything I buy, I stop to think, would I move this with me to France.
I'm running short of dish cloths for washing dishes, but I haven't bought any new ones, thinking of all those beautiful cloths I can buy in France.
For my birthday, I got some stackable espresso cups. They were plain white and kind of squat rather than
 shot glass shaped. They were sensible, but they weren't something I would take when I moved to France. So I returned them and bought two cups in shades of blue and white.
They are definitely something I would wrap in thick paper and pack in a box to go overseas to my new home in France. I can even picture myself sitting on a balcony sipping espresso in these little cups while I gaze at the view of rolling hills that leads down to a village with a stone church, the spire stretching above the rest of the town.
I'd add a sugar cube, the kind you can find in France, wrapped in paper. And I'd use a tiny metal spoon to stir up the sugar until it dissolved as I watched the sun sink in the sky and I kept my refuge under the shade of a a gnarled olive tree.
Now I get to dream of France every day. Whenever I think I need to buy something new, I ask myself, "Would I take this to France?"
What belonging would you take if you moved to France?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Snapshot -- Spring Walks

West Metro Mommy Reads

The weather is crazy in the spring, but we drink in any warm days that come our way. We live about a mile away from our downtown area, so my husband and I like to walk there for coffee. 
Here he is under a blooming magnolia tree. Lovely. 
Hope your weekend in beautiful, and if  you celebrate Easter, have a glorious day.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Trailer

I have a new book trailer for my novel I See London I See France.
I hope you'll watch it and maybe click on "like" too to help me promote my book.


I have a confession to make that may make me seem like an awful, petty person:
I'm not crazy about babysitting. Sometimes, I even feel a little resentful. I think back to raising my three kids four hours away from the closest family.
But then I remember what it felt like to be a young mother at the end of my rope.
And, whether I'm there to play or to babysit, I always enjoy my great nieces.
In the midst of a stressful week (I think I'll be able to write about the stresses next week, and you won't believe how mafia-esque they are), I had agreed to babysit from 9-2 on Thursday. Then I had a mammogram. Then I had to go teach.
So, deep breath, and I got to their house at 9 with a coffee in hand.
For the morning, it was just me and Regan, who is 21 months old now. She has these big brown eyes and eyelashes so long that she had oatmeal stuck in them when I arrived. It was just me and her for the morning while her big sister went to pre-school.
Regan loves to play in the water, so I set her in the bath for about 45 minutes.

She played happily until an itsy bitsy spider came out the water spout. Then she screamed.
I took a tissue and squished the spider then threw him in the trashcan.
Regan was still hesitant.
"Spider take a nap?" she asked.
I agreed that the spider was definitely taking a nap.
We had to walk to pick up 4-year-old Caroline at preschool and I noticed that the preschool was near a chocolate shop.
Regan and I went to the chocolate shop.
Little kids aren't sophisticated enough to enjoy chocolates, so I got the girls suckers called PushPops, which made a sticky mess, but that's what indulgent aunts are for. I got myself a salted caramel chocolate.

When Regan went down for a nap, Caroline and I made no-bake cookies. Their whole family is gluten free, so I made sure we used gluten free oatmeal. Caroline made sure to get every bit of chocolate out of the bowl afterward.
In spite of my hesitation at the beginning of the day, I enjoyed spending that one-on-one time with the girls.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April Snow

I'm babysitting today for my great nieces, so no time to wallow in words. I'll just leave you with these pictures from our surprise snow Tuesday morning.
The hyacinth were  not please to be covered in this thick white stuff.

And neither was I. This was me after about a quarter mile of my run. It seemed like no matter which direction I ran, the snow was in my face. I had to practically run with my eyes closed. 
The snow has melted and we're back to more moderate spring temperatures. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- The Supreme Macaroni Company

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to the website for Diane's image and share the first paragraph of the book you are reading.

Who doesn't love Adriana Trigiani? Well, I do and I was excited to see a new novel by her at the library. So I'm starting The Supreme Macaroni Company. This book deals with characters that Trigiani has written about before -- Valentina who runs a shoe company in Greenwich Village and gets its leather from a manufacturer in Italy. After marrying an Italian tanner, Valentina must adjust to life with a family and continue to run her struggling business. Here's the intro:
The Hudson River lay flat and black like a lost evening glove. The clouds parted overhead as the distant moon threw a single, bright beam over lower Manhattan as though it were looking for its other half.
Also this week is Tuesday Teasers by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Open to a random page of your current read and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. Be careful not to include spoilers. Share the author and the title too.
Here's a teaser from page 20:
All my emotional trigger points jammed, and my gut spasmed. All I could think was that the happiest moment of my life was being ruined by these nut jobs. So instead of behaving with maturity, I sank to their level, buckled under the pressure like a hormone-enraged tween, and shouted at them in my highest soprano. "What the hell is going on here? What's wrong with you people? You're ruining Christmas?" 
 Sounds like a family that speaks their feelings. I'm looking forward to this book.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dreaming of France

When I visit France, the things that mean the most are the everyday living. The idea that life is more important than work.
And, of course, since we're on vacation, we have time to relax and enjoy life.
When the kids were two, four and six, we visited France and spent some quality time in Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.
Someday I'm going to get all of these pictures put on my computer rather than taking pictures of them. They don't have very good quality that way, but you can still get the feel of France. 
Also in the Luxembourg Gardens, is a shot of Tucker playing in a blue car. He had a cute French girl next to him and was making his cute flirty face.
One thing we were surprised by at the French playgrounds was the play equipment. Since the French aren't nearly as litigious as we are in the United States, they have things like this climbing contraption that would never fly here in the U.S.
Here's 6-year-old Grace at the top of it. 
Maybe this week I'm dreaming of France and dreaming of those halcyon days when my kids were little. 
Thanks for playing along today and I hope you'll all visit each other's blogs to see more. 

Prom 2014

Last night was the final year I'll have to rent a tuxedo for prom. Yes, I'm happy about that because it is ridiculous to pay $145 to rent a suit for one night.
Maybe next year, when I have no children going to prom, I'll be nostalgic for prom.
Tucker is still asleep downstairs, but his few words of description assured us that he had a good time.
Before he left, we took a picture of him with Grace holding the cat up beside him.
The prom theme was masquerade, so Tucker ordered a mask online and reluctantly held it up for me to take a  picture. 
Tucker and his friend Alex met their dates at one of the girls' houses for pictures. As a man of few words, Tucker was reluctant to let me know where and what time pictures would be. I finally texted the mom of one of the girls and got to the picture house before Tucker did. 
I joked that Tucker is one of those people who believes that having his picture taken will steal his soul. I can't figure out why else he's so reluctant to have his picture taken. Luckily, in front of other people, he's willing to pose and stand still.
Here he is with is date Amelia. 
She had on a gorgeous red dress with turquoise jewelry. She rented the dress. She actually rented two dresses for $95 then decided which one to wear. She wore the dress by designer Badgley Mischka, which would probably have cost more than $1000 to buy. She rented from an online company called Rent the Runway. I think this is a great idea, although we always found dresses for Grace to buy that were less expensive than the tuxes we rent. 

The girls had some elaborate masks. Here's Tucker's friend Josie on the left and his date Amelia on the right.

Here are all the girls with their masks. I always love to see the girls' elaborate dresses.
And one more shot of Tucker and Amelia. 
I hope it was a senior prom to remember. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Snapshot -- Tuxes

West Metro Mommy Reads
It's a gorgeous day here in Ohio, so I plan to go in search of spring flower photos.
It's prom day here, but the high school kids won't get dressed up until this evening. If I had a daughter going to prom, she might be going for a manicure or getting an updo on her hair.
Instead, my son is in the basement playing video games. His prom prep will probably consist of a second shower this evening before he throws on his tux and goes to pick up his date.
Hopefully, I'll have pictures to share next week.
Here's Tucker last year, posing with our cat Tybalt, who always has his tux on .

Tonight, Tucker will be wearing a black and white tuxedo too. 
Hope you are having a terrific weekend. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Funny Grace Stories

A lot of joy in my life comes from my kids; of course, a lot of the worry in my life comes from them too. Since I tend to write about the worry more than the joy, I thought I'd share a couple of stories about Grace that actually made my friend Najah stop in the middle of our run to laugh.
Grace was home for part of the weekend. On Saturday evening, she was getting ready to shower for her evening out. She went into the bathroom and said she was going to put on a facial mask that I'd picked up at the store. I explained that she'd need to let it dry, so she might as well come out of the bathroom and wait.
She came into the kitchen where I was fixing dinner -- black beans, rice and chicken. As we stood talking in the kitchen, her face a pale purple with the mask on, we heard the water in the other bathroom turn on. Tucker, just back from a day of Ultimate Frisbee, had hopped in the shower before her.
"Guess you'll have to wait," I said as I cut the chicken into pieces and dumped it into the frying pan with olive oil.
"Fine," she said. "I guess I'll just go watch football until he finishes." She turned around and walked toward the living room.
The television was on with the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
I laughed.
"Grace, it isn't football season anymore," I called.
"Well, baseball or whatever," she said.
I just shook my head. Even growing up with two brothers, a father and a sports-crazed mother, Grace had no interest in sports and seasons. Maybe some day if she has sons of her own, she'll be able to keep it straight.
Another story she shared this weekend had to do with her part in the play, The Graduate. Grace is playing the part of Elaine, Mrs. Robinson's daughter. She's the one who Benjamin, the main character, falls for after his affair with her mother.
The play had been in rehearsals for nearly a week when Grace informed us that the main character had quit. He was just uncomfortable with the sex scenes with Mrs. Robinson, Grace said. He and Grace had already practiced the kissing scenes too. The young man pulled Grace aside after announcing his decision to let her know that his choice had nothing to do with Grace. I'd seen his picture and he's a cutie with bright blue eyes and strawberry blond hair cut short.
"Bummer," I said.
The next day were new auditions for the part of Benjamin. Another guy who Grace knew tried out, and it looked like he had the part. Then the director asked him to make orgasm sounds.
Here's the ending shot of the movie The Graduate. Grace
 gets to wear a wedding dress for this scene. 
"We just want to make sure you're comfortable with the sex scenes," the director told the young man.
"He tried," Grace said, but she confided that he didn't really have much sexual experience either. So he felt really awkward with the scenes too.
The rest of the cast were stumped. What would they do?
Then a student from OSU came in. He was tall enough to play Grace's leading man, but when he began to speak, the cast all exchanged glances. He sounded blatantly gay when he spoke. They couldn't see him in the role.
But when he started acting, he took on the characteristics of the very-straight Benjamin.
One hurdle gotten over.
Then the director asked him to make orgasm sounds. Without skipping a beat, he launched into the orgasm sounds. He had no problem.
They had their new Benjamin.
Later, as they rehearsed, the new Benjamin asked the rest of the cast why the other guys couldn't play the role. The cast hemmed and hawed, wanting to be polite, but admitted that it was about making sex noises.
The new Benjamin seemed a little surprised.
There's something sweet about young men being too shy or too sexually inexperienced to take on the role of Benjamin, but it's not really optimal when they're playing the character on stage.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

France Book Tours -- The Collector of Dying Breaths

Today I'm reviewing The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose for France Book Tours. The name of the author may sound familiar because I interviewed the author and reviewed another book by her last May. Here's my interview after she wrote Seduction.
Although reading the previous books are not required, this book follows those same characters in Paris, as Jac L'Etoile, a woman who has fought against her past-life experiences, tries to discover why her brother died mysteriously. She takes over her brother's research of a famous French parfumier, René le Florentin,
Author M.J. Rose
and his hope to bring people back to life by saving their last breaths. The novel is told in present time through Jac and through the parfumier in the 1500s, under the reign of Catherine of Medici in France. René le Florentin collects bottles of breaths of those he loves in the hopes of continuing his mentor's work.

I watched the shallow rise and fall of his chest. Listened to the rattle of his breath. As his student, I had memorized all his instructions. I had seen him perform this duty but had never done it myself.
His quest was to capture a person's last elusive exhalation, to collect his dying breath, then to release it into another living body and reanimate that soul. To bring it back from the dead.
I could see in the 1500s that someone might not have dealt with the ethical issues of this, but it would be a little more difficult in present day. Still, they're fascinated by the idea, especially Melinoe, a Greek heiress who buys whatever she wants and had hired Jac's brother and then Jac to solve the mystery.
Mostly though, this is a story about love and how we often sabotage ourselves. Whether the novel is in present day or 16th century France, love is the most important ingredient.
 The sensory details in this book are so rich and the plot is extravagant as well.
There it was again...that timbre in his voice that fitted the way he had looked at Melinoe -- no gazed at her. Up til now, she guessed that it was lust. She heard it so clearly now in his tone. It was in every syllable of how he spoke her name. his voice deepened around the word, which slid out as if he were forming it carefully, feeling every syllable with his tongue. 
It took me a few chapters to get hooked by this book, but now that I know how it ends, I've gone back and read the beginning chapters again. It all ties together so well. The clues were there from the very beginning.
Definitely an intriguing read.
Here's a synopsis from the publisher:
From one of America’s most imaginative storytellers comes a passionate tale of love and treachery, spanning the days of Catherine de Medici’s court to the twenty-first century and starring a woman drawn back, time and again, to the past.
In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.
But it’s René’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.
Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.
Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- The Chocolate Touch

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
Continuing my obsession with France, and looking for a bit of an escape, I'm starting The Chocolate Touch
by Laura Florand.
Here's the intro:
"She's back."
Dom straightened from the enormous block of chocolate he was creating, gave his maîtresse de salle, Guillemette, a disgruntled look for having realized he would want to know that, and slipped around to the spot in the glass walls where he could get the best view of the salle below. He curled his fingers into his palms so he wouldn't press his chocolaty hands to the glass and leave a stain like a kid outside a candy shop.
 I'm not too sure about the plot for this, except it's about a woman who eats chocolate and a man who makes chocolate and it's set in Paris. What else could I ask for?
Also this week  is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read  and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser.
Here's my teaser from page 38:
Dominique always liked that first moment when he stepped into the street, carrying the scent of cacao with him so strongly that people turned to look at him, trying to catch his flavor.
Yum, why didn't I marry a man who makes chocolate?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Flower Fields

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
Planning a trip to France this spring?
If so,  you may see fields of yellow flowers, like I did in May 1991 when my husband and I went on our year-after honeymoon.
We stayed with friends in the center of France near Bourges then made our way to the Alps for a few nights.
Here's a much more carefree me in my colorful clothes standing in a field of rapeseed. 
Although I didn't know it yet, I was already pregnant with Grace. No wonder she loves France so much. She was just the size of a tiny mustard seed when I posed in this field. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Saturday Snapshot -- I Don't Think He'll Fit

West Metro Mommy Reads

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme, post a photo that you (or a friend of family member) have taken. Then leave a direct link to your post on West Metro Mommy. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.
Cats are such optimists. They have no sense of not being able to accomplish their task, even if it is impossible. 

I left this drawer open for just a minute. The cat took it as an invitation to climb in. And the drawer was not empty, believe me. 
Hope you all are having a fun weekend. 

Friday, April 04, 2014


Since the beginning of the year, I've been blogging like a whirlwind, but these past few weeks, I've had my writing soul sucked out as I deal with children complications.
And I really don't want to write about them. I'm tired of thinking about them.
I'd like to just be selfish for a little while.
I have one more class to teach on Friday night and then I'm going to take some me time this weekend.
Do you ever take time for you?
What kinds of ways do you spoil yourself?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

France Book Tours -- Confessions of a Paris Party Girl

France Book Tours asked me to review a copy of Confessions of a Paris Party Girl by Vicki Lesage. 
Here's the synopsis from the author:
Wine, romance, and French bureaucracy – the ups and downs of an American’s life in Paris. This laugh-out-loud memoir is almost too funny to be true!
 Drinking too much bubbly. Meeting sappy Frenchmen who have girlfriends or are creeps or both. Encountering problème after problème with French bureaucracy. When newly-single party girl Vicki moved to Paris, she was hoping to taste wine, stuff her face with croissants, and maybe fall in love. In her first book, this long-time blogger and semi-professional drinker recounts the ups and downs of her life in Paris. Full of sass, shamefully honest admissions, and situations that seem too absurd to be true, Vicki makes you feel as if you’re stumbling along the cobblestones with her.
Will she find love? Will she learn to consume reasonable amounts of alcohol? Will the French administration ever cut her a break?
 This memoir traces the lucky life of Vicki who moved to Paris in her 20s and made an exciting new French life. Part Bridget Jones' Diary, part Le Mariage by Diane Johnson, the author takes us on a roller coaster of ex-pat fun.
Those of us who are enamored of France imagine what life would be like if we moved there. Mostly we dream of baguettes and wine. We don't really picture the difficulties.
The author pulls no punches in laying out the difficulties. Making life a little harder for herself, she parties like Bridget Jones and has many regrets afterwards. 
We ordered off the English menu anyway, and passed the evening in a blur of indulgent food and copious amounts of wine. I recall a tasty after-dinner drink (or three) comprised of white wine, wild berry liqueur and cognac. I'm sure I no longer had any control over the volume of my voice.....In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have had so many after-dinner drinks. Then again, they shouldn't make them taste like Kool-Aid if they don't want me to order fifty of them. Who can win a fight against wild berry liqueur? 
 I'm well past my partying days, and mostly as the author described her overindulgences, I felt glad I had moved on.
Vicki Lesage is an IT Director by day, writer
by night. 
And a full-time nerd. She loves fondue,
 wine, math, and zombies.
She lives in Paris with her
 French husband and rambunctious son.
Much more interesting to me were all of the French quirks of culture, like yogurt as dessert. I loved hearing about the classes she had to take to be allowed to work in France. And who knew about the number of hoops someone has to jump through to get married to a Frenchman. That was really fascinating. I wonder if they could have avoided it by getting married in the United States.
But what Francophile girl hasn't dreamed of being married in Paris? The author achieves this goal.
At the crack of dawn on Saturday, we headed to our appointment with Père Nicolas. Normally sleeping off a hangover at this hour, I saw a new Paris during the five-minute walk. Store owners straightening their shops, old ladies rolling their grocery caddies, street cleaners sprucing up the sidewalks....
According to the rules of the French Catholic Church, you have to get married in the church in your quartier unless you are an active member of another church. I supposed this was to avoid everyone clamoring to marry in Notre Dame of Sacré Coeur.

 I loved seeing the details of planning the marriage and pulling it off.
This was a fun read and I recommend it. Maybe for vacation, or if you can't afford a vacation this year. Go to Paris and sow your wild oats in this memoir.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

My Book as a Movie

Sim over at Chapter 1 Take 1 is all about books turned into movies. So she asked me who I would cast to play the main roles of my latest novel I See London I See France.
Three leading men and one spunky woman.
I'll give a taste of who I picked for the main character Caroline.
What do you think?
Would she sell the minivan and take the three kids to Europe in search of adventure?
It was such fun; I hope you'll pop over to her blog and see who I chose.
Leave a comment too to tell us what you think.

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...