Archive | April, 2023

Americans in France: Mastering the Art of French Murder and (not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living

26 Apr

Mastering the Art of French Murder
by Colleen Cambridge
Mastering the Art of French Murder is the first book in a new series by Colleen Cambridge. I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and Netgalley so I could give you an honest review. The novel is set in post WWII Paris, where Julia Child’s fictional best friend, Tabitha, is living with her Grandfather and “Oncle” Rafe. Fans of Julia and France will be happy to see that details about both were well researched and Cambridge depicts them in loving detail. Tabitha worked in a factory during war time in Michigan and feels at odds with returning to a world where women are expected to wear dresses and simply get married, so takes the opportunity to temporarily relocate to Paris and works as an English tutor, while trying to decide what her next chapter in life will be. She also struggles in the kitchen and looks to her friend for cooking tips, which allows for some fun, light hearted moments amongst a mystery committed with Julia’s own chef knife. I enjoyed Tabitha and her interactions with her family and friends, but they mystery itself is also a clever one that draws from historic details. I’m hoping there will be many more in the charming American in Paris Mystery Series. Cambridge is the pen name of Colleen Gleason who has published a variety of books including the Phyllida Bright Mysteries, another cozy series published under Colleen Cambridge.

If you are left hungering for French food after reading the story, you can check out how to make everything from Boeuf Bourguignon to Chocolate Soufflé from Julia Child in The French Chef Volumes 1-4.

For those looking for books about or including Julia for kids check out my previous post where I helped my son do research about the culinary icon.

(not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living
by Mark Greenside
(not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living is the sequel to Mark Greenside’s memoir I’ll Never be French (no matter what I do). Greenside though now splitting his time between America and France is still learning to fit in. This memoir discusses everything from his struggles with driving, money exchange, healthcare and learning to be more adventurous with food. I was particularly interested in this work since I had spent a summer in Brittany and Paris with my grandparents as a teenager and was eager to see how his experiences were similar or different from my own in comparison to his time in Brittany. Greenside definitely is a bit of a curmudgeon, but in putting forth this version of himself the annoyance or frustrations he feels struggling with another culture play off as humorous and more self-deprecating than offensive towards those he interacts with, which can always be a possibility with travel fiction. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Richard Poe, who brings Greenside’s humorous and at times touching tales to life.

Looking for more Americans in Paris; check out my review of the adorable TV series, Emily in Paris.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

What it Means to Be Human: In the Lives of Puppets and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

19 Apr

In the Lives of Puppets
by TJ Klune

I have previously blogged about Klune’s other adult novels The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door. Both are beautiful, gentle, fantasy reads. I was hopeing for and found more of the same from Klune’s latest work In the Lives of Puppets, but what I love about Klune’s work is that despite some similarities such as a strong found family and embracing individuality and diversity in a world that often makes those who do not conform feel like outsiders, there is also a great deal of originality and creativity in the characters and stories that he shares. In the Lives of Puppets takes inspiration from the classic story of Pinocchio and then weaves a very modern story about a group of robots and one young man, Victor, living a sweet fairytale existence in their treehouse compound in the woods, until one day the father figure is snatched away by a whale like air ship and Victor and his friends including the newly restored and refurbished HAP set out to rescue him. The story looks at what it means to be human in a world filled with AI and if it is possible to overcome one’s past programming to become a new and better person. There is humor from Rambo, a neurotic rumba desperate for approval, and a nurse robot who is both equal parts motherly and sadistic. If like me, you loved Guillermo del Toro’s recent film retelling of the classic story, this one is also definitely worth checking out. I received an advance copy of In the Lives of Puppets from Netgalley and the publisher in order to provide an honest review. The book will be available April 25.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

We read The Daughter of Doctor Moreau as part of the library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group. I was curious to check it out since my colleagues, Victoria and Lauren, had spoken positively of Moreno-Garcia’s very popular novel, Mexican Gothic. This novel takes inspiration from the classic H.G. Wells story, The Island of Doctor Moreau and also seemed to pull some of the details from the 1996 film adaptation. The story transports the original from the South Pacific to taking place during the Guerra de Castas, when Indigenous Maya and Mexican population of mixed and European decent were in conflict. Moreno-Garcia uses the story of animal/human hybrids to explore issues of racism and identity. This a gothic story with a feminist perspective; where a father’s frustrations about not being able to control his increasingly wild daughter read as a larger society who seeks to define and shape a women’s bodies and ideas without taking the time to hear their own desires. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau will appeal to those who enjoy historic fiction as well as fantasy and horror fans.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

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