Words in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse

french.png

Originally published in: 2006

What it’s about: Former Arizonan and current ex-pat Espinasse tells about her foibles in her adopted land of Provence, especially with the language.

What made me pick it up: I am a lifelong Francophile and practice my ever-improving French daily. I tend to gather up any book about living in France that I can, and this one was no different. As soon as I found her blog and found out about this book I knew I had to have it.

My favorite things: This book is mostly in English with a spattering if French phrases sprinkled throughout and then translated either in text or at the end of each chapter. I enjoyed every aspect of this book, from its conversational tone to her slightly clumsy transition from American customs and language to French. She writes with candor and humor and in doing so you believe it just might be possible to move to France yourself and make your way there. In addition, she paints a beautiful picture of her new home region of Provence. You’ll want to visit and experience the sun and the sea and the wine that she talks about. It’s also just a really great peek into French life and how it is different from life here.

Who it’s great for: Francophiles. Anyone working on learning, and stumbling through, the French language.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color by Elizabeth Alexander and Marilyn Nelson

 

IMG_2849

Originally published in: 2007

What it’s about: Poems and biographical notes tell the story of the first school for African American girls in Connecticut and the challenges it faced.

What made me pick it up: It was reviewed by a friend on Goodreads and I had never heard of either the book or the story of Prudence Crandall and her school. Thankfully the library had a copy so I ordered it in.

My favorite things: This book is written in poems and they give powerful snippets of both Crandall’s and the students’ experiences and the backlash they faced trying to get an education. They are difficult experiences which can be hard to read about but the authors work to not only tell the story but also impress upon readers why the students thought getting an education was important enough to risk it. The poems are accompanied by lovely illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Those looking for stories of African American history outside the usual characters.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

41jwafmcstl-_sx258_bo1204203200_

Originally published in: 2010

What it’s about: A little pea who must finish dinner before he can have dessert.

What made me pick it up: Amy Krouse Rosenthal was a prolific author with a distinctive style but I don’t feel like I’ve sampled enough of her work. So I checked this out.

My favorite things: The illustrations are great. It’s like a more mature and subdued Veggie Tales. It was the story that I enjoyed most though. This pea doesn’t like what’s for dinner, and has to force himself to choke it down, even though dinner is CANDY! I enjoyed so much that it tips common child-hates-dinner experience on its head. In the end (spoiler!) Little Pea finishes his candy so he can have his favorite dessert – spinach!

Who it’s great for: Littles who don’t like what’s for dinner or have trouble eating their veggies. Parents who want a brief, humorous story to read.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

7b529bc8c9-40e8-48bc-9fd0-06bd05f662277dimg400
This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: How Sandberg found resilience while grieving the sudden death of her husband. It also has personal stories from other individuals, as well as psychological research on what helps build resilience.

What made me pick it up: This got a lot of good reviews and I’m a big fan of Grant’s (if you haven’t, pick up Originals).

My favorite things: This book is so raw and honest I was in tears in places. Sandberg manages to effectively write about her grieving process and do so while providing hope for others in grief. It was a beautiful combination of vulnerable personal storytelling and incorporation of useful research.

Who it’s great for: Anyone grieving a loss or recovering from trauma. Readers who enjoyed Sandberg’s previous book, Lean In.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book at Amazon or in your local library.


 

My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

51rqjbjrn5l-_sx352_bo1204203200_

Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: Legendary chef, restaurant critic, and foodie magazine editor-in-chief Reichl detailing the year after she lost her job when her beloved magazine Gourmet folded during the recession.

What made me pick it up: I was looking for a new audiobook so I was scrolling through new arrivals on Overdrive and there it was. It was also less than seven hours, which is perfect.

My favorite things: I shouldn’t be surprised that such a prolific and talented writer was able to write a memoir and seamlessly incorporate recipes into the story, but it is still so admirable. Reichl writes very honestly of how hard it was to lose her job and face purposelessness and how cooking brought her back to herself and gave her a new focus in life. Also, fans of Gourmet will adore all of her recipes and want to concoct and devour them as she lays them out. I personally can’t wait for summer to put together her Apricot Pie. It is read by the author, so you get an added treat of being told the story by the writer herself.

Who it’s great for: Foodies. Cooks and wannabe cooks. Anyone going through an unexpected life situation who needs a positive role model.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

51q3z3emk2l-_sx331_bo1204203200_
This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: After their son dies unexpectedly, an estranged couple continue his friendship and Boy Scout project to assist an old woman.

What made me pick it up: It was listed along with A Man Called Ove in a reader’s advisory request we got at the library. In making sure my recommendations of The Rosie Project, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk were on the money I had to do a little research. That led to checking out the audiobook and here we are.

My favorite things: This book is an excellent blend of old lady recounting her history like in Lillian Boxfish, unique individual who sees the world different and behaves oddly like Rosie Project, and heartfelt relationship building and personal transformation like in Ove. There is so much to like, but it is tempered a bit by the fact that the loss here is of a young child. More than anything though I loved how much this author illustrated that we are all fallible humans trying our best while living unavoidably messy lives. We might do anything for those we love but maybe not the best way, or maybe not at the right time. It is heartbreaking story of loss but also of hope.

Who it’s great for: Fans of any of the books listed above. Readers looking for solid fiction.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find a copy at Amazon or in your local library.


 

Manfish by Jennifer Berne

man

Originally published in: 2008

What it’s about: Legendary marine biologist and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau.

What made me pick it up: As a child I was enamored with Cousteau and hellbent on becoming a marine biologist just like him.

My favorite things: The illustrations in this book are fantastic. It’s a great introduction to Cousteau for younger readers. I especially enjoyed how clearly his curiosity came across on the page. Also, I had forgotten he invented scuba! I’m smitten all over again.

Who it’s great for: Fans of Cousteau. Kids who like animals of all varieties, but especially sea creatures. Anyone brimming with natural curiosity.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.