Review of Confessions of a Paris Party Girl by Vicki Lesage

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About Confessions of a Paris Party Girl

When newly-single party girl Vicki moved to Paris, she was hoping to indulge in wine, stuff her face with croissants, and fall in love. It proved to be much more “difficile” than she’d imagined. In this laugh-out-loud memoir, this cheeky storyteller recounts the highs and lows of her life in the City of Light. Sassy and shamefully honest, Vicki makes you feel as if you’re right there in Paris stumbling along the cobblestones with her.

My Review

Lesage shares her experiences adjusting to life as an expat in France. Despite the adjustment and challenges Lesage maintains her sense of humor and positive attitude as she initially starts off contending with the key to her apartment which leads to a hilarious first adventure. Dealing with the famous French bureaucracy, learning the ropes of French office decorum, baptismal shopping experience, Lesage is quickly adapting to life as a resident of France without batting an eye. However, mastering the bar and culinary scene comes with ease, Lesage even dips her toe into the dating pool while acquiring friends along the way.

An entertainingly humorous story of an all American girl acclimating to call France home along with the intricacies associated. I admire Lesage’s patience, courage and determination, I truly lived vicariously through her, quite a fun reading adventure.

About Vicki Lesage7760779

Amazon best-selling author Vicki Lesage proves daily that raising two French kids isn’t as easy as the hype lets on. In her three minutes of spare time per week, she writes, sips bubbly, and prepares for the impending zombie apocalypse. She lives in Paris with her French husband, rambunctious son, and charming daughter, all of whom mercifully don’t laugh when she says “au revoir.” She penned two books, “Confessions of a Paris Party Girl” and “Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer,” in between diaper changes and wine refills. She writes about the ups and downs of life in the City of Light at VickiLesage.com.

Published January 12th 2014 by Createspace Independent Publishing

Review of Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road by Rob Schmitz

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About Street of Eternal Happiness

Modern Shanghai: a global city in the midst of a renaissance, where dreamers arrive each day to partake in a mad torrent of capital, ideas, and opportunity. Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz is one of them. He immerses himself in his neighborhood, forging deep relationships with ordinary people who see in the city’s sleek skyline a brighter future, and a chance to rewrite their destinies. There’s Zhao, whose path from factory floor to shopkeeper is sidetracked by her desperate measures to ensure a better future for her sons. Down the street lives Auntie Fu, a fervent capitalist forever trying to improve herself with religion and get-rich-quick schemes while keeping her skeptical husband at bay. Up a flight of stairs, musician and café owner CK sets up shop to attract young dreamers like himself, but learns he’s searching for something more. As Schmitz becomes more involved in their lives, he makes surprising discoveries which untangle the complexities of modern China: A mysterious box of letters that serve as a portal to a family’s – and country’s – dark past, and an abandoned neighborhood where fates have been violently altered by unchecked power and greed.

A tale of 21st century China, Street of Eternal Happiness profiles China’s distinct generations through multifaceted characters who illuminate an enlightening, humorous, and at times heartrending journey along the winding road to the Chinese Dream. Each story adds another layer of humanity and texture to modern China, a tapestry also woven with Schmitz’s insight as a foreign correspondent. The result is an intimate and surprising portrait that dispenses with the tired stereotypes of a country we think we know, immersing us instead in the vivid stories of the people who make up one of the world’s most captivating cities.

My Review

I loved the eclectic mix of people Schmitz introduced. We discover Shanghai and China’s history past and present with the future ambiguous.

Schmitz possess a casual yet sharp writing style sucking the reader into the lives of the people depicted. The various stories run from heartbreaking to inspiring. The colorful cast each has a very different view of their country and its history based on generation and political views. CK an entrepreneur determined to succeed, Zhao a smart businesswoman attempting to marry off her son, Auntie Fu caught up in a Ponzi scheme – all scratching and clawing in modern China. Nice comparison between US and China both in similarities and differences. Each person pursuing their dream and each dream is as different as each person. Shanghai offers much yet carving your path is quite a challenge. Fascinating and absorbing read.

About Rob SchmitzA1-GGWtjoEL._UX250_

Rob Schmitz is the China correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace, the largest business news program in the U.S. with more than 12 million listeners a week. He has reported on a range of topics illustrating China’s role in the global economy, including trade, politics, the environment, education, and labor. In 2012, Schmitz exposed fabrications in Mike Daisey’s account of Apple’s Chinese supply chain on This American Life, and his report headlined that show’s much-discussed “Retraction” episode. The work was a finalist for the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. He has won two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and an award from the Education Writers Association for his reporting on China. Schmitz first arrived to the country in 1996 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Sichuan province. His Marketplace stories can be heard at http://www.marketplace.org/people/rob-schmitz. This is his first book.

Expected publication: May 17th 2016 by Crown

Review of That’s Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in the City of Light

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About That’s Paris

If you’ve ever traveled to Paris or dreamed of setting foot on its cobblestone streets, you’ll enjoy escaping into this collection of short stories about France’s famed capital. From culinary treats (and catastrophes) to swoon-worthy romantic encounters (and heartbreaking mishaps), this anthology takes you on a journey through one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Visit this cosmopolitan metropolis through the eyes of Parisians, francophiles and travelers who fell in love with the city and still hold a piece of it in their hearts. That’s Paris: a glimpse into living, loving and laughing in the City of Light.

My Review

Lovely collection of short stories. Just about everything is covered, from love, heartbreak, cuisine, to dealing with bureaucracy and much more all set in vibrant Paris.

As a self-proclaimed Francophile I thoroughly enjoyed the variety and the unmistakable Paris vibe of each story, knowing the setting is Paris is intoxicating enough for this reader. There is something magical and seductive regarding Paris albeit in person or on paper, I was mesmerized from the start.

Every story was interesting and brought its individuality to the table. The unique writing style of the authors along with their varied perspectives added layers of interest. A story catching me off guard Half past Midnight by Didier Quémener, memorable, haunting.

Short story fans, Francophiles will undoubtedly appreciate this well crafted collection.

About the Authors

That’s Paris is a collection of fiction and non-fiction stories from people who have traveled to Paris, lived in Paris or never even set foot in Paris but dreamed about what it would be like to visit. Among our contributors are: the author of three fashion books, the writer of a recently released book on Rwanda, Amazon best-selling authors, journalists, a personal chef and winners of various blogging awards. That’s Paris features new talent as well as established writers, but everyone has one thing in common—their stories capture the essence of what it’s like to breathe Parisian air.

Check out the full list of contributors and their bios.

Foreword by: Stephen Clarke

Authors: Michael Attard, Audrey M. Chapuis, Adria J. Cimino, Sarah del Rio, DryChick, Leslie Floyd, Jennie Goutet, Amy Lynne Hayes, April Lily Heise, Vicki Lesage, Elle Marie, Cheryl McAlister, Emily Monaco, Lucia Paul, Didier Quémener, Laura Schalk, Brooke Takhar, Marie Vareille, Frédérique Veysset, Lisa Webb, Anna Weeks, April Weeks, David Whitehouse

Author proceeds from sales of That’s Paris benefit the charity Room to Read, which supports literacy and gender equality in education. Thanks for supporting the cause!

Published January 20th 2015 by Velvet Morning Press

Review of Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency (The Killing of Historical Figures) by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard

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About Killing Reagan

Just two months into his presidency, Ronald Reagan lay near death after a gunman’s bullet came within inches of his heart. His recovery was nothing short of remarkable — or so it seemed. But Reagan was grievously injured, forcing him to encounter a challenge that few men ever face. Could he silently overcome his traumatic experience while at the same time carrying out the duties of the most powerful man in the world?

Killing Reagan reaches back to the golden days of Hollywood, where Reagan found both fame and heartbreak, up through the years in the California governor’s mansion, and finally to the White House, where he presided over boom years and the fall of the Iron Curtain. But it was John Hinckley Jr.’s attack on him that precipitated President Reagan’s most heroic actions. In Killing Reagan, O’Reilly and Dugard take readers behind the scenes, creating an unforgettable portrait of a great man operating in violent times.

My Review

Another fascinating historical read filled with kernels of otherwise unknown information. Reagan fan or not, this intimate glimpse into one of the most revered presidents is an eye opener. Well researched, candid, you will discover more than you knew possible. O’Reilly brings history for all to enjoy in a fast paced, easy to read, well researched format. From newbie to veteran history buff his books are more than satisfying, perhaps engaging enough for the reader to explore more of notable people, moments and events from the past.

Interesting details of Ronald and Nancy, appreciated yet a smidgen disillusioned. Always a shocker when your perception is somewhat rocked, this was a bit of a reality check – all that glitters is not gold. O’Reilly provides plenty for readers to digest.

About Bill O’Reilly27281

Bill O’Reilly is an American television/radio host, author, syndicated columnist, and political commentator. He is the host of the cable news program The O’Reilly Factor. Prior to hosting The O’Reilly Factor, he served as anchor of the entertainment program, Inside Edition.

O’Reilly also hosts The Radio Factor, a radio program syndicated by Westwood One, and he has written seven books.

1549About Martin Dugard

New York Times bestselling author Martin Dugard is the co-author of Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, Killing Patton, and Killing Reagan, written with noted television personality Bill O’Reilly. To date, there are more than ten million copies of these books in print.

Mr. Dugard is also the author of the critically lauded memoir To Be A Runner, a series of essays which takes the reader around the world as he recounts his personal journey through the world of distance running. It is a book about life itself, and how the simple act of stepping outside for a run is a metaphor for our daily desire to be the best possible version of ourselves, step by step.

This attribute can be seen in the diversity and depth of Mr. Dugard’s body of work. His ten years covering the Tour de France resulted in Chasing Lance (Little, Brown, 2005) a travelogue combining history, sports and gastronomy. Other works include the New York Times bestseller The Murder of King Tut (with James Patterson; Little, Brown, 2009); The Last Voyage of Columbus (Little, Brown, 2005), which tells the riveting tale of the legendary Admiral’s final, ill-fated journey in crisp, swashbuckling fashion; Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone (Doubleday, 2003), Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook (Pocket Books, 2001), Knockdown (Pocket Books, 1999), and Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth (McGraw-Hill, 1998). In addition, Dugard lived on the island of Pulau Tiga during the filming of Survivor’s inaugural season to write the bestselling Survivor with mega-producer Mark Burnett.

Mr. Dugard is the writer and producer of A WARRIOR’S HEART, starring Ashley Greene and Kellan Lutz, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011.

An adventurer himself, Dugard regularly immerses himself in his research to understand characters and their motivations better. To better understand Columbus he traveled through Spain, the Caribbean and Central America. For Tut he explored pharaohs’ tombs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. He followed Henry Morton Stanley’s path across Tanzania while researching Into Africa (managing to get thrown into an African prison in the process), and swam in the tiger shark-infested waters of Hawaii’s Kealakekua Bay to recreate Captain James Cook’s death for Farther Than Any Man. And for To Be A Runner he ran with the bulls in Pamplona, suffered electric shock and hypothermia as part of Britain’s Tough Guy competition, and explored Japanese WWII bunkers on the island of Saipan.

On the more personal side of adventure, Dugard competed in the Raid Gauloises endurance race three times, and flew around the world at twice the speed of sound aboard an Air France Concorde. The time of 31 hours and 28 minutes set a world record for global circumnavigation. Dugard’s magazine writing has appeared in Esquire, Outside, Sports Illustrated, and GQ, among others. In 1997, Dugard was awarded the Dallas Area Press Club’s Katie Award for Best Magazine Sports Story.

Mr. Dugard spends his afternoons as the Head Cross Country and Track &Field coach at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano, California, a position he has held since 2005. His boys and girls squads regularly qualify for the California State Championships, and his girls team won the state title in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In addition, he serves on the Board of Directors of the USA Track & Field Foundation, charged with growing youth distance running in America.

Martin Dugard and his wife live in Orange County, California. They have three sons.

Published September 22nd 2015 by Henry Holt and Co.

Review of The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark by Meryl Gordon

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About The Phantom of Fifth Avenue

Born in 1906, Huguette Clark grew up in her family’s 121-room Beaux Arts mansion in New York and was one of the leading celebrities of her day. Her father, William Andrews Clark, was a copper magnate, the second richest man in America, and not above bribing his way into the Senate.

Huguette attended the coronation of King George V. And at twenty-two, with a personal fortune of $50 million to her name, she married a Princeton man and childhood friend, William MacDonald Gower. Two years later the couple divorced. After a series of failed romances, Huguette began to withdraw from society–first living with her mother in a kind of Grey Gardens isolation then as a modern-day Miss Havisham, spending her days in a vast apartment overlooking Central Park, eating crackers and watching The Flintstones with only servants for company.

All her money and all her real estate could not protect her in her later life from being manipulated by shady hangers-on and hospitals that were only too happy to admit (and bill) a healthy woman. But what happened to Huguette that turned a vivacious young socialite into a recluse? And what was her life like inside that gilded, copper cage?

My Review

Fabulously fascinating. Comprehensive overview of the obscenely wealthy Clark family as well as focusing on Huguette Clark. Outstandingly written and researched. Those intrigued with the Clark family and of Huguette will enjoy Meryl Gordon’s effort.

Sad story despite claims Huguette was happy, still her actions reveal otherwise. I was appalled but not surprised people exploited Huguette’s generosity and blatantly took advantage of her kindness. This über wealthy woman was by no means greedy rather quite the opposite. An emotionally scared woman preferring to withdrawal from the rugged world. Highly skeptical she would approve of the upcoming film of her life.

About Meryl Gordonmeryl-gordon-1

MMeryl Gordon is the author of The Phantom of Fifth Avenue, as well as the author of Mrs Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of A Family Beyond Reproach. She is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor to Vanity Fair. She is on the graduate journalism faculty at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She is considered an expert on “elder abuse” and has appeared on NPR, CNN and other outlets whenever there is a high-profile case.

Published May 27th 2014 by Grand Central Publishing

Review of There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me by Brooke Shields

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About The Real Story of My Mother and Me

Brooke Shields never had what anyone would consider an ordinary life. She was raised by her Newark-tough single mom, Teri, a woman who loved the world of show business and was often a media sensation all by herself. Brooke’s iconic modeling career began by chance when she was only eleven months old, and Teri’s skills as both Brooke’s mother and manager were formidable. But in private she was troubled and drinking heavily.

As Brooke became an adult the pair made choices and sacrifices that would affect their relationship forever. And when Brooke’s own daughters were born she found that her experience as a mother was shaped in every way by the woman who raised her. But despite the many ups and downs, Brooke was by Teri’s side when she died in 2012, a loving daughter until the end.

Only Brooke knows the truth of the remarkable, difficult, complicated woman who was her mother. And now, in an honest, open memoir about her life growing up, Brooke will reveal stories and feelings that are relatable to anyone who has been a mother or daughter.

My Review

“Neither writing the book nor this letter felt at all cathartic. People speculated it would, but in actuality it all just gave me a heavy heart.”

Brooke wrote this book to reveal more of her mother as opposed to the overbearing stage mother reputation most were familiar with, mission failed. Brooke describes Teri as an abusive alcoholic mother using her daughter as her means of financial support.

Brooke continuously defends her mother, fails to really acknowledge the abuse head on, basically glosses over all affronts like its no big deal which makes this even more painful of a read. The part I found shocking – Brooke admits she would never permit her daughters to participate in a film such as Pretty Baby or questionable ad campaigns but yet sees nothing wrong with Teri allowing her involvement.

Her continuous excuses for her mother made for a challenging read. What was the point in writing this, it certainly didn’t endear Teri to an already skeptical audience. Brooke really should have written this for herself sans sharing with the public.

This reads more of ramblings from an abused daughter of an alcoholic wrestling with the loss of her mother, grief serving as her ghostwriter, clearly clouding her vision of the depths of events.

The lack of proper editing added to the strain of an already frustrating tell all.

About Brooke Shields62393

Brooke Christa Camille Shields is an American actress, supermodel and author.

Published November 18th 2014 by Dutton

Review: The Removers by Andrew Meredith

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About The Removers

A dark, poignant, and emotionally brave coming-of-age memoir: the story of a young man who, by handling the dead, makes peace with the living.

My Review

Interesting read, taking me by surprise, certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. This was a coming of age story, exploring the bruises left behind of a dysfunctional family. The funeral industry was part of the narrative but not a large portion, enough to provide a glimpse into body removal, cremation.

Meredith has a way with words, his writing is poetically mesmerizing. He’s very open and candid into the turmoil existing within his family as well as bearing his own emotions and stumbles as a result of his family mess during his formative years to adulthood.

As much as I enjoy Meredith’s writing, his veering from one topic to the next jamming the mismatched topics together randomly was frustrating. One moment you would be reading of the cremation oven and immediately read of his father’s indiscretion, this zig zag pattern continuing throughout the narrative. Distracting and disruptive.

Candid memoir from a very gifted writer. I look forward to reading more from this talented writer. His lyrical writing alone makes this worth perusing.

About Andrew Meredithandrew-meredith-431977058

Andrew Meredith has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo and from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He received an MFA in Fiction from UNC-Greensboro. The Removers is his first book.

Published July 15th 2014 by Scribner