Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Mass in France


Thank you for joining 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.

It's possible that our friends are some of the last remaining religious people in France.
We are always hearing that church-going is on the decline in France, yet nearly everyone we connect with in France seems very religious. 
We've probably attended mass at least once every time we've visited France. And that time we went to France over Easter, we were at mass on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, watching their children serve as altar boys or sing in the choir in the cathedral in Nantes.

This week, we heard about the young men, claiming to be connected to Islamic State, who killed a priest in a church in Normandy. That sad news seemed like the plot of a novel rather than reality.
This morning though, hope sprang in my chest when I heard that Muslims throughout France would attend mass today in solidarity with their Catholic brethren. The church in Normandy had strong ties to the Muslim community and had even donated the land for the mosque. 
The people in France, no matter their religion, have a strong bond, and that gives me hope.
Most Muslims, like most Christians, want to live in peace, no matter what country they live in. 

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France today. Please leave your name and blog address in Mr. Linky below, and leave a comment letting me know what  you think about my love affair with France, or your own love affair. And consider visiting the blogs of others who play along so we can all share the love. 


Giveaway -- Amazon Gift Card

I'm trying to take a deep breath on this, the last day of the month.
July has flown by, hasn't it?
I've had some spectacular days, walks with my husband, walks with my friend Sheila, hanging out with my children and talking about everything or nothing.
I'm already missing the early, early morning sunshine. I'm disappointed now that the sun isn't rising at 5:30. I think that if I had the money, I'd follow the summer, maybe spend my winters in New Zealand.
Well, on the last day of the month, I'm trying to sell a few extra copies of Paris Runaway, my latest novel. So, if you were considering a purchase of Paris Runaway, $5.99 for the Kindle edition, go ahead and buy it today and leave a comment here or on my Facebook page or send me an email or tweet, and I'll enter your name to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
The drawing will be Sunday evening, so your odds are very good.
Some readers have said this is their favorite of all my novels. It has a couple of steamy, romantic scenes, but mostly it's women's fiction with the main character dealing with the complications of life and raising teenagers as a single mother, while chasing after her daughter to France.
Don't take my word for it though, go to the link and read the reviews.
I love that different readers can have totally different experiences:

Here's a review from Goodreads: "An interesting, entertaining suspense novel, I loved it.
Could not put it down, I felt I was with her in Paris."

Here's another review from Goodreads: "The highlight of the book would be its narration. Looking at Paris through the writers eyes was sheer blissful. The narration is vivid and the writer has tastefully described Paris even when the story demanded that the setting be dimmed out. That blending and weaving of the setting even when the main character writhed in turmoil was done perfectly without compromising emotions."

And one of my favorite reviews: "This was a fabulous beach read! I picked it up this morning and never sat it down until I was done. The characters were relatable and their adventure was a joy to watch unfold. If only real life teenage drama ended in a trip to Paris and an adventure with a sexy French man then the teenage years would not seem so bad."

Thanks for your support, whether you buy my novel or not, reading my blog helps give me that feeling of community too. If you do buy it, I wish you a lovely, relaxing day or reading and a quick trip to Paris, even if it's only in the book.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

BrainDead is Great TV

I don't write about television very often, but this summer our family has gotten hooked on a new series called BrainDead.


Braindead is on CBS Monday nights at 10, but we just record it so we can watch, usually the next day.
The show is funny and creepy and so timely.
The main character is Laurel (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who wants to make
documentaries about obscure cultures, but she doesn't have the money, so she returns to her hometown, Washington, D.C., and agrees to work for her brother, a democratic senator. She's drawn into a love/hate relationship with Garreth, who works for a republican senator.
Garreth is the whole reason we started watching the show because he is played by Aaron Tveit, who Grace looooooves, because he played Enjorals in the movie Les Miserables, and he has starred on Broadway.
The premise is that a meteor landed in Russia -- which is true and includes some of the actual footage. Then a U.S. scientist has the meteor brought to D.C. to study it. The meteor is filled with space bugs that look like ants. They crawl into people's brains and make them very strident about their political positions.
It seems like it could actually be happening because people are so dug in on beliefs.
I know it sounds crazy, but it's very entertaining and we can't wait each week to see what happens next.
At the beginning of each show, there's an adorable song summing up what has happened in the previous shows.
Here's one from Week 4.

There's a little gore, but mostly it's surprising and silly and the acting knocks us out. 
I hope you'll give it a try before a fun, new show meets its demise. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Spreading Our Wings

I hope no one every doubts my devotion to my children, but after 24 years of mothering, I'm kind of ready for a break.
Tucker on a trip out west
We had a brief empty nest two years ago with all three kids off to college. That was the autumn that Grace got mono, and Tucker hated college so decided he was moving home after the fall semester.
We declared it Empty-Nest November in an attempt to keep the kids away for a month, but with Thanksgiving and all, we let them come home.
Since then, all or some of our three children have been living at home.
We don't mind. We enjoy them a lot of times.
This summer, with all three kids home in our small house, it has felt a little crowded.
Luckily, everyone has different work schedules so we aren't usually all home at the same time, except when we're sleeping, and even that varies. I'm sure there have been times I've climbed out of bed at 5:30 when my boys might just be going to bed.
This morning though, it feels a little roomier here at home as Tucker moved out yesterday.

Spencer going out on the town.
He moved into a duplex in the same town where we live, which makes me happy because it is safer than a lot of housing closer to campus (Ohio State University). Tucker.20,  works five days a week, takes classes, plays soccer and hangs out with his friends. I think that we are closer, more tolerant of each other when he doesn't live at home.
Our agreement is that we'll pay his rent while he's in college. He has to pay his utilities and food, along with gas for his car. And he has to pass his classes. He has had a hard time settling on a major. Currently he is aiming for Interactive Multimedia, which includes photography, videography and computer animation. I hope he enjoys it.
Grace and her boyfriend Jack in a moment
 of' adoration and cuteness
After Spencer left for work at 6:45, and Earl left for work at 8, the house felt a little less crowded.
I freely walked from the bathroom to the bedroom without clothes on, knowing that the house was a male-free zone for a few hours.
Grace asked what we were going to do with our male-free hours, but I had to work, so she's on her own, until Spencer gets home from work or she leaves for the class she is taking.
Next month, Spencer will return to college for one more semester.
Grace and her boyfriend are headed to London in September.
I love my kids, but I'm looking forward to the time this fall when we might get to be empty nesters again.
Remind me next year, if I'm whining about missing my kids that I was looking forward to being alone.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Readers' Workouts -- July

Joy at Joy's Book Blog has built up a community of people who love to read and work out.

When I visited Joy's blog, I learned that she sets a monthly workout goal. I had never thought of doing that. I usually take it day by day, and most days, I expect to exercise.
I feel incredible guilty if I don't start my day with a run, or at the very least, a walk with my friend Sheila.
One day this week, I reached my 10,000 step goal before 7 a.m.
I also have been exercising with my daughter for her Beach Body workout, which really made me feel muscles I didn't realize I had. I'm taking a break from Beach Body this week, but will probably start again next week.
Trying to judge how much I exercise per month, I turned to my Fitbit record. According to the dashboard, I've walked 225.38 miles since June 27, so in the past month.
No wonder my sandals are worn out. Of course, when I run, I don't wear my sandals.
I'm not sure if that number is a lot or not. I guess I'll have to compare it to the upcoming months.
Thanks for the reminder, Joy, to check in with  you and other bloggers on exercising.

Review of Finding Fontainebleau

As someone who loves France and all things French, I'm already sold on a book when it gives me a snapshot of French life.
And this book, Finding Fontainebleau by Thad Carhart, is unique because it is a memoir about a time when many Americans might not recognize France, that time in the early 50s, after World War II as France recovered from the war.
Carhart's family went to France, after his father was assigned to work as a military officer there. So the American family with five children rented a large manor house, and his father worked in an office in Chateau Fontainebleau.
Part of the book is the author's remembrances of growing up in France. Having worked on a memoir myself, I question how much a 4-year-old boy could actually remember, but I'm sure he spent time interviewing older family members, and some of the stories have probably become family lore.
I love the peek into French schools at the time, as he wrote about the students who poured black ink into each student's inkwell every day, and then the 5-year-old children had to meticulously copy out letters across the page. I can't even imagine.
Carhart also returned to France as an adult with his own children, so he jumps to different time periods. As an adult, he digs into the Chateau Fontainebleau, which played such a pivotal role in his childhood, and he is fortunate enough to be taken in by the architect in charge of renovating the chateau so he can gather backstage information about each section.
Those sections are then interwoven with French history about the construction and use of the chateau and the French culture at the time.
I enjoyed reading Finding Fontainebleau and felt like I gained many insights into French history, although the story didn't sweep me away or give me an urgency to finish. It was more like a leisurely boat ride as I enjoyed the sights.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Falling in Love With France


Thank you for joining 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've written some guest posts for the FranceBookTour of my novel Paris Runaway. I thought I'd share one of the posts that I wrote for bookwormerz which ran on Sunday. It tells the story of how, after a
rocky start, I fell in love with France.


Falling in Love With France
I visited France for the first time at age 20. My college boyfriend and I went on one of those 21-day tours where we visited 14 countries, or maybe it was a 14-day trip with 21 countries. Either way, one of those countries was France.
I’d gotten sick in Rome, with Montezuma’s Revenge, and it lasted into Paris. I remember visiting Notre Dame and desperately searching for a bathroom nearby. What I found was a Turkish toilet.
Those are hard to find in France these days, but a Turkish toilet was a stall with a place for your feet to go on either side of a drain in the floor. I still can’t work out the mechanics for a woman that doesn’t result in damp underwear. That experience could have ruined my love for France, but it didn’t.
A year after college graduation I was working at a newspaper and dating a photographer, whose sister was married to a Frenchman. The sister, who was pregnant, her husband, and their two little girls had tickets to go to France for the summer, when the sister was ordered to bedr est. Someone needed to step up and travel with the girls. I volunteered.  
Here are the two girls and their grandfather, along with a couple of cousins, on the balcony in Corsica. 

I told my boss I was going and that I didn’t care whether I’d have a job when I returned. Picture me as a bossy, impetuous 22 –year-old. (Luckily, they found a summer intern and my job waited for me.)
So with two little girls and a Frenchman I didn’t know, we flew to Paris. The first few days could have ruined my love affair with France as I took the girls on a bus to their great-grandmother’s apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris. But the bus went the opposite direction that we needed and we ended up on an impromptu, hot, diesel-fueled tour of Paris, getting off at several stops in hopes of finding our way.  Another day I got separated from the girls when they stepped through a Metro stall with sliding doors, and the doors closed before I could follow them. A flight attendant behind me had an extra ticket and used it to reunite me with the girls.
But every negative experience melted away as I traveled with the girls and their grandparents over the next three months. We flew to Corsica and spent our days splashing in the Mediterranean and enjoying each meal as a symphony of tastes and textures. 
Me, on the beach. There are probably naked, or at least topless, people right behind me. 
Our evenings filled with concerts and tennis matches and nights on the veranda watching the star-spangled sky for the slowly moving space station.
When we returned to mainland France, we stayed one night in Aix en Provence. I can still remember the thrill of coming home that rippled through me when I stepped onto Cours Mirabeau, the wide boulevard lined with plane trees.
For a month, we stayed in the family’s country home near Bourges. The house came into the family during Napoleon’s reign, and it had served as a base for the Germans when they invaded during World War II, then the Americans when they drove back the Germans. The numerous sets of French doors opened onto a yard, which led to fields of sheep and flocks of chickens. We walked to the village for bread each day, stopping to feed a pony.
Here I am, prepared for dinner, as I sit on the terrace writing. I wish you could see my
adorable ankle socks and aqua shoes that matched my top, but this print is not the best quality.
Finally, we returned to Paris and the grandparents’ apartment in the suburbs. The grandmother urged me to explore the city while she watched the girls, and, oh, what adventures I had as I wandered alone.
I’ve included memories from this trip in all of my novels set in France – The Summer of France, I See London I See France, and Paris Runaway.
In each of my French novels, I try to recapture the magical experiences of that first immersion into France – the trip that taught me the importance of savoring each bite of luscious nectarine, rather than worrying about the juice that ran down my arm.

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France today. Please leave your name and blog address in Mr. Linky below, and leave a comment letting me know what  you think about my love affair with France, or your own love affair. And consider visiting the blogs of others who play along so we can all share the love. 

I'm also linking to Paris in July. Hope you'll play along with both Dreaming of France and Paris in July. We can't have too much France love, right?



Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday Snapshot -- Summer Garden


Join West Metro Mommy for this weekly meme of photos people have taken and share on their blogs.

This week, we spent some time digging up two strips of grass in front of our stone wall and planting it with flowers.
I mostly considered this an unimportant job because I thought the grassy area was fine, but apparently it always bugged my husband. And truthfully, I didn't do very much.
I did go to the store to buy plants, manure and mulch, which subsequently spilled in my car and I'll need to vacuum it now.
After one side was planted, I realized we didn't buy enough flowers, so I went back to the store for more and spent one steamy afternoon digging holes to add the extra flowers. But my eldest son discovered me in the act and came to help.

He also dug up the grass on the other side so my husband could plant, manure and mulch there. So mostly, I'm a bystander in this project.
Even though I didn't think it was necessary, it does look nice.

The morning glories come back up each year around our porch. Usually I take a picture to show how they cover the railings, but I wanted you to see one up close. They look silky and velvety.


And each year, I buy a flat of zinnias to plant. I don't know why sometimes they look like this. One or two simple stems and flowers.

And other times, they outdo themselves, like these.

Hope your summer and your gardens are doing well too.
Hope you'll also visit French Village Diaries today where she posted a review of Paris Runaway, my latest novel. There's a giveaway too, so be sure to enter.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Blog Tours -- Paris Runaway

I'm busy forcing myself to write these last few weeks of July -- write novels that is, instead of blog posts. So I might not be around as much as I should, but you can read some blog posts by me and some Q&As, if you're interested, on FranceBookTours this week.

Just click on the banner to see the entire schedule. So far this week we've had spotlights, which means book bloggers are kind enough to run the banner, along with a bio of me and some information about my novel. And throughout the online blog tour, there are chances to enter a copy of my novel. So if you are hoping to win a copy, visit all the blogs and enter to win. So far, it has been 

Thursday will be another spotlight and chance to win at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium.

On Friday, you'll see an interview that really taxed my brain. I didn't notice until after I finished that the blogger said I could feel free to skip questions. Instead, I dug deep to come up with my scariest experience and how my first trips to France connected with early boyfriends. Well, on Friday you should visit Library of Clean Reads to see if you can read the entire interview. Make sure you leave a comment so I don't feel so alone.
The reviews begin this weekend, so I'll be sure to update you. 
Thanks to everyone for your support for Paris Runaway. So far, it's a favorite of many people who have read my other novels. 
If you don't want to wait to see if you won, you can find it available on ebook at Amazon, or in paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Now, I'd better get back to writing. 
Well, just a hint first, I'm working on a sequel to The Summer of France that's called Autumn in Aix. No secret from World War II this time, but an American with a plan to change the world wanders into Fia's bed and breakfast. Will she help protect more precious art or lose herself in her new French life?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Outdoor Dining


Thank you for joining 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.

Before I jump into outdoor dining, I want to direct you to Sim Carter's blog Chapter 1 Take 1, where she allows me to share the actors who would be my dream cast if my novel were made into a movie. Just one hint about the main character, Sadie:

Visit Chapter 1 Take 1 to see who the rest of the picks are. And thanks, Sim, for giving me the opportunity. 

What is it about al fresco dining and France that go together? Yes, I know that the words are Italian, but just a glance at cafés and restaurants in Paris and throughout France makes you realize how much the French enjoy eating outside.
Earl and I sat at an outside table yesterday having cocktails and hors d'oeuvres -- dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon to go with our gin and tonics. The evening was delightfully fresh, without the normal humidity we expect in July.
Time spent enjoying our outside dining reminded me of the many times we've enjoyed meals along the front of a French restaurant.
Here I am sitting under a canopy in a square in Aix en Provence enjoying a Kir Royale. My first drink in France when we traveled there last year.

We had a delicious lunch on the terrace of a restaurant in Marseille along the Vieux Port.

And, of course, we take every opportunity to eat outside in Paris.

This restaurant is on Ile de la Cité.
What do you think? Do you connect outdoor dining with France?

I'm also linking to Paris in July. Hope you'll play along with both Dreaming of France and Paris in July. We can't have too much France love, right?



Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave your name and a link to your blog on Mr. Linky below. I really appreciate your participation and I hope you'll leave a comment plus visit each other's blogs.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Nice

Every horrible act of terrorism breaks my heart.
It's true that an arrow into France wounds me especially. I know now that friends will caution me that I shouldn't move to France because of the danger.
I don't like to point out that. according to U.S. News, "Every day in the U.S., an average of 289 people are shot. Eighty-six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention, the Brady Campaign reports."
Eighty-six is nearly the exact number of people who were killed in Nice on Bastille Day.
Terrorist acts can happen anywhere -- in France, in Dallas, in New York, even in Columbus.
We can't live our lives afraid that we could be victims.
All we can do is live the best lives we can. Embrace the life you have.
Squeeze every bit of joy from it.
Then if your life ends early, from terrorism or a car crash or a disease, you can know that you didn't waste your days hiding from evil people. You flaunted your bliss in front of their faces and let them know, "you won't intimidate me. I am here to make the world better."
One person who makes my life better is my friend Leah.
Leah is a writer and a painter.
I've shared her pictures before, but here are some photos of Nice in a more beautiful time.

What a beautiful beach. The sky, the sea, the glory of this photo. 


And this reflecting pool with the mountains in the background. Gorgeous.

Peace be with you, Nice. May the beauty of your surroundings help heal your wounded souls. 
I look forward to visiting you next year to pay my respects in person. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sharing a Review of Paris Runaway

Just in time for Bastille Day, or as the French call it Fête Nationale, Laurel-Rain Snow at Serendipty posted a review of Paris Runaway.
I love being online friends with voracious readers who so succinctly sum up the plot of a novel and are able to share what they liked -- or didn't like -- about my novels.
Luckily, Laurel-Rain enjoyed it.

Paris Runaway, an intensely engaging novel, kept me rapidly turning pages, losing sleep, and eagerly trying to figure out what would happen in the end. Would Sadie and Auguste find the kids and extricate them from disaster? What would happen with the developing connection between them afterwards? I definitely wanted to know, so I very happily kept reading…and now I’m awarding 5 stars to this novel.
 Thanks, Laurel-Rain!
Take a look at her blogs Serendipty and Snow Sparks and you can discover more great books, along with some Laurel-Rain has written as well. Laurel-Rain is also considered a top reviewer on Amazon, so it's always great to have her input.

And, for those who are growing weary of seeing the book cover of Paris Runaway, here's another picture of Paris -- not from Bastille Day, because I haven't been in France on Bastille Day for 30 years, but maybe next year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tuesday Intros -- Finding Fontainebleau


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.

This week, I'm reading Finding Fontainebleau by Thad Carhart. It's a memoir about an American boy growing up in Paris in the 1950s.
Here's the intro:
All these years later I can recall with keen precision the moment when the bottom dropped out, because that is exactly what it felt like: one moment we were flying, shaking a bit from turbulence, the next we were falling, in a calm, eerie quiet broken only by the sound of the four engines laboring uselessly. Then the air caught us again and it was bad: the plane pitched violently up and down, from side to side, every way imaginable. The passengers found their voice then, after the expectant dread of the free fall. This was active, maniacal horror, and people screamed. It was the first time I saw an adult -- many of them, in fact -- expressing fear without reserve. The woman across from us started to cry and yell, and there was nothing to be done but listen and watch with a kind of terrified fascination. 
This cliff-hanger opening leads to some calmer musings about life in post-war France and the experiences Carhart's family had adjusting to a move from suburban Virginia to Paris.

I look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading.

I'm also connecting with Paris in July.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dreaming of France -- The Tour


Thank you for joining 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.

Every year, we look forward to watching The Tour de France. It's our July trip to France without fighting through all the tourists.
The first week of the tour was a little disappointing.
The start was scenic with Mont St. Michel in the background, but the bicyclists ended up clogged at the starting line, as no one had figured out how to get all the riders into that little circle in front of Mont St. Michel so that they could begin the race.

The stages were fairly flat and the riders chose to ride incredibly slow for at least two of the days. The endings have been close because the sprinters competed, but four hours of bicycling on TV leading to about a 30-second sprint can be disappointing.

Friday, the pace picked up and Saturday, the riders arrived in the Pyrenees, where you know the action will increase. Just the vertigo of spinning down the mountains with the riders excites me, not to mention the beauty of the ragged green mountains, the green pools formed by melting snows, and the patches of snow that remain.

The people watching the Tour are crazy too. I tell my husband that next  year I'll get him a Speedo bikini suit to wear while watching the tour alongside the route. People dress up in costumes. They wear crazy wigs and wave giant flags.
On Saturday, a costumed man ran alongside the riders as they struggled to climb a mountain. Chris Froome, the winner of last year's tour and the favorite for this year, reached out with his fist and clocked the guy in the side of the head. I can't blame him. The fans are a bit crazy. They need to give the riders room to ride.
This year, on July 12, the route goes through the area where we plan to move next year -- Languedoc.

 We'll be eagerly anticipating the release of next year's map to see which part of the country we can travel to and see the tour ourselves -- with or without a Speedo.

I'm also linking to Paris in July. Hope you'll play along with both Dreaming of France and Paris in July. We can't have too much France love, right?
Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave your name and a link to your blog on Mr. Linky below. I really appreciate your participation and I hope you'll leave a comment plus visit each other's blogs.


Friday, July 08, 2016

Book Review -- The Runaway Wife

The Runaway Wife by Elizabeth Birkelund transported me to a world I've never visited, to an oasis high in the Swiss Alps where a woman can be her true self, unworried about the world.
The book begins with Jim, an overworked financial investor who hasn't had a vacation in 8 years taking a vacation with a friend. They hike in the Swiss Alps and at a remote hut, they meet three
sisters who entice them to search for the women's lost mother. The mother was raised in the Alps, but she has never stayed gone so long. They fear for her safety with snow coming. She also happens to be the wife of a man running for the presidency in France. The press recently revealed that man had a mistress and a baby, so the wife disappeared. Every day, the man sent a helicopter into the Alps searching for his wife so he could bring her home.
Jim decides to take up the challenge, and what he finds changes his life and his dreams.
Here's an excerpt:

The melodic singing drew closer but was interrupted by a long, drawn-out cough. Jim had not noticed her coughing yesterday. He looked out the window. She was hanging laundry -- sheets, lingerie, a long white nightgown -- on a clothesline. Her slim body weaved in and out of the laundry so that he could never see more than a part of her at any time.
...
He could not resist returning to the window for one more glimpse of Calliope's dance among the billowing sheets and clothing. She looked like a woman at sea amid the sails of a ship.
And later, the beauty of the Alps is reiterated.

He'd heard the term Alpenglow,  but this was the first time he'd witnessed it. The enormous bowl of the sky was lit from below by the amber light of the setting sun. The few snowfields nestled inside crevices in distant peaks glowed a deep mauve.
Doesn't that make you want to see it yourself? It does for me.
The entire time that the characters were hiding in the Alps, I wanted to be there to experience it myself. Very beautifully written.

As an author myself, I've been warned about the squishy middle of a book, the part that makes reader drop a novel and not pick it up again, but Birkelund does not have that problem. The middle of her book is enthralling.
The beginning of the book could have been stronger to lure readers into that middle, but I promise that if you stick with it a few chapters, you'll be rewarded.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Tuesday Intros -- The Runaway Wife


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.

It's funny that the publisher contacted me about reviewing this novel, The Runaway Wife,  just as my own novel, Paris Runaway, was about to come out. I noted the similar title and the fact that they are both set in Europe.
I've read a book by this author, Elizabeth Birkelund, before and the writing blew me away, so it was an easy decision to read this one. The previous book I loved, also set in France, was The Dressmaker.  I'm about halfway through The Runaway Wife, so look for an upcoming review.
Here's the intro:
Jim Olsen, you are here. In Switzerland, walking on the rock ledges of the Swiss Alps. If this was not the end of the world, at least it felt like it. In this moonscape ten thousand feet high, in this land of rock and rock and more rock, and sky and sky and more sky, one misguided step and Jim could plunge from one of thousands of vertiginous, crusted cliffs. The only thing that reassured Jim that he was not on a planet in a far-flung galaxy was his ability, on this clear day, to pinpoint several small patches of green that resembled colored pieces in a stained-glass window -- these he knew to be farmland in the Swiss valley far, far below. 
I don't care for that first sentence where he's apparently speaking to himself in second person. I had to read it several times to figure it out, but the rest of the book is lovely.

I look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading.

I'm also connecting with Paris in July.


Sunday, July 03, 2016

Dreaming of France -- Lavender


Thank you for joining 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.

This week, I'm also linking up with Paris in July, a  yearly meme hosted by a couple of bloggers who also love France.

Every day, my Fitbit urges me to walk 250 steps each hour for nine hours in a row. Nevermind that I might have already reached my 10,000 step goal. It wants me moving every hour from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. I've figured out that if I walk out my back door, down the alley, turn left and walk around the block to my front door, that's about 250 steps.
As I made that circuit the other day, I felt a nostalgia, a warm feeling. I couldn't figure out why. I made the walk a couple more times before I realized that it was the smell of lavender wafting to my nose as I passed a large lavender bush on the corner. I stopped to watch the deep purple stems covered with fat bees that buzzed fiercely. They were drawn by the scent too.

I envy my neighbor's lovely lavender bush, but I know that next year at this time, I will be inundated by the smell because I'll be living in southern France.
I wonder if the lavender fields are awash in bees busily gathering pollen to create their lavender honey.
Will I grow tired of the scent? I don't think so.
I have to admit that the smell of diesel fuel reminds me of Paris. My second trip to France, acting as an au pair, I got lost in the bus system, wandering the city with a 3-year-old and 4-year-old girl. We finally got on the correct bus, headed in the correct direction, but the smell of diesel fuel always takes me right back there.
Is there something that reminds you of France -- a smell, a sound, a sight, a taste?

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave your name and a link to your blog on Mr. Linky below. I really appreciate your participation and I hope you'll leave a comment plus visit each other's blogs.




Dreaming of France -- More Hard Goodbyes

Today, we begin week 2 of living out of a suitcase since we sold our home and moved out last week. My neighbor tells me that once we vacate...