Tag Archives: Michelle Gable

Queries and Conundrums: BBA Update!

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I know that it is Friday and that is usually a FOUR ON FRIDAY, but it is also April 15!!.  If you remember about a month ago, I had a bit of  a crisis; my to-be-read pile was reaching critical mass and my book buying was out-stretching my reading time.  I challenged myself to read 10 books FROM MY TO-BE-READ pile and here is the update! 

I did it and I must admit that it was quite cathartic.  My shelf looks more manageable and I finally got to read some books that had been sitting there a while.  Some I liked, some I loved, and some I gave 50 pages to and said I’m done.  Here’s the list of what I read and what I thought.

Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow by Loretta Ross
Book 2 in the Auction Block series.  I liked the first book and I really enjoyed the second!  Check out my commentary here.

Black and Blue by Emma Jameson
Book four in the Lord and Lady Hetheridge series.  I enjoyed book 4 more than books 2 and 3, and I think the series is on the right track.  Indications are that there will be a book 5.

A Heart for Milton by Tracy Brasure
A “what-happens-next” after Elizabeth Gaskell’s Victorian novel North and South.  It is always a risk when author tries to write a sequel to another author’s work.  I enjoyed North and South a great deal, but this book didn’t hold my interest.  I finished it because I was curious to see this interpretation as to how the characters’ lives played out.

Two Birds with One Stone by Sigrid Vansandt
A charming cozy mystery set in the village of Marsden-Lacey, England.  A predictable “least favorite villager gets killed” plotline but some very enjoyable characters with a unique tie to the past and a famous English author.

The Quick by Lauren Owen
Not sure I can count this one; I only made it about 130 pages.  The cover author recommendation was from Deborah Harkness, who I love, so I picked it up.  The story started out really good and I was curious to see this author’s interpretation of vampires, but the story got very convoluted and the author included scraps of chapters and unclear references.  I think if I had given it another 100 or so pages, the story would have worked itself out but I wasn’t invested enough to follow through with it.

When Falcon’s Fall by C. S. Harris  (Not on my “to-be-read pile, but moved to the front of the queue when it arrived!)
Sebastian St. Cyr’s 11th story: absolutely wonderful!!  I also just saw that the author recently was contracted to write at least three more in the series.  See me doing my happy dance!!  My commentary is here.

Deadly Scandal by Kate Parker
A new series by the author of the Victorian Bookshop series, one that I really enjoy.  This one is set in 1930’s London between the time of the two great wars.  Check out my review here.

Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson
A love story with rich historical roots set in Paris.  The cover caught my eye and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  Beautiful story about a young woman who, while lying near death following a nasty engagement break-up and life-threatening case of scarlet fever, vows that if she recovers, she will not dwell on the past and instead will embrace her future.  Helena Parr travels to her aunt’s house in France and begins to study art.  There she makes friends with an eclectic group of artists and meets and falls in love with an American reporter.  This is a slightly different look for the “Lost Generation” following World War 1 but Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald all make an appearance.  I really enjoyed the beautiful story; more of a “coming of life” rather than a “coming of age” story, but included some breath-taking descriptions and a rich historical feel.

A Scone to Die for by H. Y. Hanna
A cozy mystery series set in a teashop just outside of Oxford, England.  Uh, yeah!  Fun start to a new series.  An obnoxious and loud American tourist is murdered following an altercation in Gemma Rose’s tearoom.  Gemma, her intrepid employees including a cat named Muesli, and four nosy ladies from her community worked together to try to solve the case before someone shuts down her shop for good.  Kind of predictable but very fun.

Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Reinhart
Cherry Tucker has grown up in the small town of Halo, Georgia.  As she tries to establish herself as a portrait artist after years studying at a respectable art school, the town isn’t quite ready to let go of her past.  When Dustin Branson is murdered and Cherry is asked to paint a death portrait, she discovers more about death and art than she would ever want to know.  A little predictable but some very eccentric and entertaining characters.

Time of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen (Not on my “to-be-read pile, but it was a library book that I had been on the wait list for)
Concerned after she caught a glimpse of her husband in a movie news reel and a cryptic letter, Molly Murphy book 16 takes Molly and young son Liam on a grand adventure to San Francisco.  Check out my review here.

A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders
London book editor Sam Clair is used to dealing with temperamental authors and prickly lawyers, but it is Kit Lovell’s new book that dishes on the latest fashion industry scandal that pushes Sam out of her comfort zone.  Detective Jake Field and Sam’s mother, an accomplished and fearsome attorney, join forces with Sam to uncover the mysterious disappearance of author Kit and his novel.

I’ll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable
As she is packing for a trip to England with her mother, Annie discovers a book that her mother had hidden about real life Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough.  As her mother’s business deal takes more time than expected, Annie begins to read the book and embarks on a quest to understand the Duchess and her life and the people who cared for her.  Although I enjoyed the author’s previous book A Paris Apartment more, there was a plot twist that took me so completely by surprise that I was engrossed in the plot so much that I had to finish the story.

Who Glares Wins by Camilla Chafer
This is the second book in the Lexi Graves series.  I read the first one and I’ll be the first to admit it is kind-of fluff, guilty pleasure reading.  However, after reading the second book, I am hooked.  Lexi is a very likable character with a wry sense of humor and a knack for adventure.  Although the series isn’t written quite as tight as the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum books, I find Lexi a more believable and realistic character.  Her mistakes are human and her personality has more depth and less caricature.  I found myself rooting for her success, without hoping for a disaster.  I will most likely check out the next in the series.

Poldark: Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
I love watching period dramas on BBC almost as much as I love reading them, so of course I am obsessed by the new Poldark series.  Starring Aidan Turner . . . yeah, that’s enough for me . . . Poldark tells the story of Ross Poldark, who once arriving home after fighting in the Americas, discovers that his father has died, his love is engaged to his cousin, his family homestead lies in decay and disuse, and his prospects are lean.  He commits himself to starting a new life for himself in his home of Cornwall.  This book is the first in a series of twelve books about the generations of the Poldark family.  The story is a bit dry but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it as a companion to the television series.  It filled in some gaps and it was fun to note differences with the production.  It reminded me a bit of North & South how it provided enough detail about the mining industry of Cornwall and its influence on the people who lived there, without bogging the reader down in the technical aspects.  I am looking forward to reading more of the series.

 

SO . . .  actually I read 15 books!  One was an additional purchase and one was a library book, but look how nice my to-be-read shelf looks!  Of course to celebrate my accomplishment, I went out and bought 4 new books!

 

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A Paris Apartment

Title:  A Paris Apartment
Author:  Michelle Gable
Publisher:  Thomas Dunn Books
Publication Date:  2014
ISBN:  978-1-250-06777-7

Book Summary:
Running away from problems in her marriage, April Vogt jumps at the opportunity to travel to Paris.  As Sotheby’s furniture specialist, she is thrilled to inspect and catalog furniture in a ninth arrondissement Paris apartment that has been closed up for 70 years.  Digging through the dust and dirt and decay however, it is not the furniture that catches her eye. Instead, it is a previously unknown portrait of renowned courtesan Marthe de Florian by master of the Belle Epoque period, Giovanni Boldini.  What is even more exciting is the collection of letters and journals by Marthe that chronicled her life.

April becomes swept up in Marthe’s story of how she started as an orphan, got a job as a barmaid at the Folies Bergere, and went on to become a very well-known demimondaine, the highest possible level for a courtesan.  Her interaction with some of the famous contemporaries of the time, as well as her deep seated rivalry with Jeanne Hugo, daughter of Victor Hugo, create a truly amazing life story.

April’s own life takes interesting twists and turns as she meets the estate lawyer, Luc.  He slowly provides her with information about Marthe’s heir who is selling the estate and April begins to put the pieces of the puzzle of the past together.  Her own marriage to Troy teeters as well but there is also some hope for the future.

Book Commentary:
I had read about this book when it came out in hardback.  I rarely buy hardbacks and never seemed to get it from the library, so it kind of fell off my radar.  I was thrilled when I discovered it paperback.  It is an amazing story based on a true-story of a treasure-stocked Parisian apartment that had been closed up for decades.  I enjoyed how the author made the reader feel like a treasure hunter as secrets and surprises were unearthed.  I admit that Paris has never been a “must-see” destination for me, but this book, along with the Hugo Marston series, has really piqued my interest.  The setting descriptions from both the past and present are very detailed and I love how, in many cases, there is little change between the two.

The story is very plot driven, both in the past and present, and I really liked how they were written together without being dependent upon one another.  Often what a character learns from the past changes how they perceive the present and then all is right and comes together perfectly – rather unrealistic.  Although April learns about the past and it does reflect on her present, the two are still very separate stories that don’t have to intertwine.  I liked how that was different from a lot of other stories that are written in two time periods.

Another thing that surprised me was how I liked and empathized with Marthe’s character much more than April’s.  I didn’t really care for April and her choices, which is different for me.  I usually really relate to and appreciate the protagonists.  This however in NO way made me enjoy the book less.  The book was a departure for me and I liked the change.

Who might like this book:
This is a great book for lovers of Parisian history, art, and culture.  I think if I had ever been to Paris, I would have enjoyed this book on a completely different level, as many of the local references were lost on me.  I also liked how April was a historical furniture expert; once again, a departure from the typical art experts that are often seen in novels.  It presented the story in a different light.

Fans of stories that interweave the past and present may also like this book; although, I didn’t feel it was as much interwoven as parallel.  I would be curious to see what others think.