Ooh la la. My Paris Dream by Kate Betts

Ooh la la. My Paris Dream by Kate Betts is the best Paris memoir since Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. This isn’t one of the detached collections of vignettes about going to the market or Luxembourg Gardens that limply passes as a memoir of Paris. This is real life written by an American expatriate who lived and loved in Paris.

Just as A Moveable Feast makes you feel like you’re in 1920s’ Paris, My Paris Dream transports you to 1980s’ Paris, where they’re talking about the beginning of the chunnel connecting Paris and London and the American “cowboy President”. Kate Betts propels herself to a fabulous job at Fairchild Publications where her boss, when giving her an assignment in Provence, tells her, “Run through the lavender fields!”

Most of us, okay, all of us, will never have a boss who says, “Run through the lavender fields,” but you don’t have to be a fabulous reporter and editor to relate to the timeless stories of following a dream, falling in love, falling out of love, becoming consumed by work, and redefining yourself. She meets everyone in haute couture. There’s a charming story about meeting Christian Louboutin that I don’t want to spoil by posting here. It’s worth reading yourself to fully enjoy.

And there’s a reverence for Paris on nearly every page. That’s why I’m going to recommend My Paris Dream like I recommend A Moveable Feast. That doesn’t mean it’s all glam. It’s the author’s resolute determination to keep going even when she experiences bumps that reminds you of Hemingway’s wise quote: “Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it.”

Disclosure: I received a copy of My Paris Dream from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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FREE Download Magical Cool Cat Mysteries Boxed Set Vol 2 Feb 13-17 (Expired)

Enjoy a FREE download of Boxed Set Volume 2 of the Magical Cool Cats Mysteries through February 17th. You can download this boxed set where the cats are solving mysteries without missing a nap by clicking on the image above or the link below:
Magical Cool Cats Mysteries Boxed Set Vol 2(Books 4,5,6 & 7)

And remember you can always read Kindle books on your tablet, smart phone, and computer by downloading FREE Kindle Reading Apps. Please click on the link below for a FREE Kindle Reading App:


Awesome cats, Tatania and Zeus, are in charge and solving mysteries without missing a nap.

In Meow Baby, a pregnant woman disappears and Grace and Jack discover a skeleton that carries the secrets of the heart that once beat within it. Magical cool cats, Tatania and Zeus, pounce on newly uncovered clues to a mystery that leads right back to home.

In Cupake Kitty, when a singer at their engagement party dies, Grace and Jack follow the trail of a bootlegger’s dame to TiaJuana.

Excerpt from Cupcake Kitty: “Magical white cat Tatania became impatient with her humans. She could smell a succulent sea bass on the other side of the door. To encourage her humans to open it, she meowed. Zeus, her black and white feline companion, responded to her meow by putting his paws over his head and his rear end up in the air.
“How would you feel about spending a lot of time with me?” Jack asked.
“I feel like I already have,” Grace said.
“It only gets better.” He held up her hand and admired the emerald and diamond ring he’d bought her at Jessop & Sons jewelers last month.
“Marry me?”
“Of course.”
He opened the door to the Hotel del Coronado’s Crown Room. A band played the Charleston. In the corner of the dance floor, there was an ice sculpture of two magnificent cats.
“What’s going on?”
“Our engagement party.”
“Why were you so sure I’d say yes?”
“I’m arrogant.”

In Meow or Never, Grace and Jack, led by their magical cool cats, rush to find a wealthy stockbroker’s missing wife.

Excerpt from Meow or Never: “Cats truly live their nine lives at night. Zeus, a cute and mischievous tomcat, kept following the tide in and out, letting the water sprinkle his nose, and acting surprised when the tide chased him back to the shore. Wet, he shook like a puppy. Then, he sniffed each front paw carefully. Tatania looked away. She was terribly fond of Zeus. But sometimes, he was a tad unseemly. He scampered exitedly towards their favorite humans, a slender woman in a sparkling dress, and a muscular man with black hair and skin kissed brown by the sun. Zeus rolled around on the sand. Maybe he had dog blood in him. Tatania shuddered at the thought of that mating.”

In Catty Corner, when an art heist happens during Grace and Jack’s rooftop cocktail party, magical cool cats, Tatania and Zeus, are on the trail of a collector who finds art as intoxicating as catnip.

Excerpt from Catty Corner: “Where have you been all my life?” A grey haired man asked a young flapper.
“I don’t think I was alive for half of it,” she replied, blowing smoke from a six inch rhinestone cigarette holder.

The Magical Cool Cats Mystery Series can be read in any order. If you’d like to know the chronological order of the series, here it is for you:

**Splendid Summer
**Emeralds, Diamonds, and Amethysts
**Cher Ami
**Available exclusively in Grace, Jack & Magical Cats Boxed Set Vol I
Meow Baby
Cupcake Kitty
Meow or Never
Catty Corner
Cat Dance
9 Lives to Live

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Mailbox Monday (3)

The Great Divide: The Conflict between Washington and Jefferson that Defined a Nation by Thomas Fleming. This book will be released on March 10, 2015. Thank you to Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you Audible for a review copy of this audiobook of the AMAZING story of pilots who flew a plane without controls and the 184 out of 296 passengers who survived.

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Then You Happened

Here is the description from Amazon:

“When Sierra’s father died, he left her in charge of the family business. At the age of twenty-eight, Sierra Adams became CEO of Adams Advertising & Design, one of the top ten advertising agencies in the world. Her work was her life. She lived and breathed it every day, leaving little time for play. Having once been in a relationship that completely destroyed her, Sierra vowed to use men for one thing only: SEX. No strings, no problems, and most importantly, no heartache.

Cameron Cole is an ordinary guy that makes a living as a carpenter. He’s a simple man who’s happy with life the way it is. He does a job he loves, has a great group of friends, and a close knit family.
When Sierra hires Cameron to remodel her Hollywood Hills home, their happy little worlds are turned upside down. She likes the rich things in life and he likes the simple things. While there’s no denying the strong attraction between them, they form a hilarious friendship where sex is the only thing Sierra wants. Cameron can’t help but want more and makes it his mission to bring Sierra into his simple world and show her that there’s more to life than just all work and money.

Take Cameron and Sierra’s journey in this romantic comedy as they discover that when life hands you limes, you have no choice but to break out the tequila.

This book is for readers 18+ due to mature theme and language”

Sierra is a fearless and funny heroine. Listening to the fun banter between Sierra and Cameron made me glad I chose the audiobook edition of Then You Happened by Sandi Lynn. This contemporary romance is well-performed by narrators Emma Woodbine and Brian Pallino.

Cameron has enough confident masculinity to keep him from being intimidated by Sierra’s CEO status. He takes her from the boardroom to outdoor spontaneous sex on a boat. The whole outdoors is their love nest. And writer Sandi Lynn brings emotional layers to their story. Then You Happened is the first in a series by Sandi Lynn.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Then You Happened from Audible in exchange for an honest review.

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Everything I Never Told You; Everyone Has Secrets

When I first heard that Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng was Amazon’s pick for best book of 2014, I was almost reluctant to read it because I thought it might be hyperbole. It wasn’t hyperbole.

Everyone has secrets. In Everything I Told You, written by Celeste Ng, and beautifully narrated by Cassandra Campbell, everyone in a family learns unexpected things about themselves and the people around them.

James, a Chinese-American history professor who enjoys seeing people look surprised when he says he teaches American history, is married to Marilyn, a pretty blonde still bitter that her desire to be a doctor was thwarted by teachers in the 1950s. They told her she’d be too distracting to the boys in Science classes. Both parents compete to be the favorite of their favorite child: Lydia.

Lydia’s burden, and one of the reasons she’s ill-prepared for surprises in life is that everyone expects her to know everything already -that’s the mantle we place on the gifted. When Lydia dies, feeling “how suffocating to be so loved”, her parents and her siblings, Nate and Hannah, discover layers of secrets within themselves. And that reveals the mystery of how and why Lydia died.

Everything I Never Told You moves seamlessly through the viewpoints of different characters. Told from Lydia’s perspective, it reminded me a little of The Lovely Bones.

Everything I Never Told You is a book that will draw you back until you finish reading it. That’s one of the reasons I love audiobooks. You can’t always drop everything and go back to reading; but you can listen to a good story while you’re driving or making dinner. I’m glad I chose the audiobook for Everything I Never Told You.

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The Real Downton Abbey – Diaries of Highclere Castle’s Aristocrats

Downton Abbey fans won’t be disappointed by Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon. I listened to the audiobook edition narrated by Sandra Duncan, Jenny Oglivie, and Andrew Wincott.

This is the story of a privileged class born to its wealth. After compiling the diaries of Lady Catherine, an American beauty, and descendant of Washington and Lee, who married the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, the present day Countess of Carnarvon shared its history.

The book begins in the 1920s and listening to its splendid narration, you feel transported to music playing on a gramophone, the clinking of cocktail glasses, the whispers of secret affairs, and the giddy feeling of living life all the way up. Royalty, led by Prince George and Prince Edward, who famously abdicates to marry Wallis Simpson, visits and delights the kitchen staff by going downstairs to say thank you. They feast on quail in aspic while wearing glam clothes even on days when they don’t leave the castle.

Beauty and wealth didn’t insulate Catherine from suffering. Her husband, nicknamed “Porchey”, was a womanizer, who took trips alone and left her drinking alone in the castle. Catherine eventually leaves Porchey and finds contentment in a second marriage.

Although some of the diary entries may seem like unnecessary detail, a decision about what’s necessary is of course subjective, and it’s glorious that the present day Countess has shared Highclere Castle’s history imparted by its aristocratic inhabitants. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to glimpse the inside of a club few ever joined.

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The Birth of the Pill

In the prosperous 1950s, there was a population that existed on the periphery of American abundance, burdened by poverty and more children than they wanted. Their husbands thought it was macho for their wives to be pregnant all the time. These women wanted birth control they could use without their husbands knowing.

Four extraordinary people converged and created a birth control pill that could stop ovulation: Margaret Sanger, Katherine McCormick, Gregory Pincus, and John Rock. In The Birth of the Pill, How Four Crusaders Revolutionized Sex and Launched a Revolution, written by John Eig, Gayle Hendrix superbly narrates the story of the contraceptive that changed lives.

Believe it or not, at the time the pill was being developed, there were states in America where contraception was illegal. Japan welcomed the pill’s creation before America. In the 1950s, when most Americans weren’t liked in Japan, Margaret Sanger was greeted with reverence. Contraceptive devices in Japan were named after Margaret Sanger. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not. Since Margaret Sanger pioneered Planned Parenthood, I’m going to presume she took it as a compliment.

The FDA is required to approve a drug if it works and doesn’t cause serious harm. On that basis, the FDA approved the pill despite vocal opposition. The Birth of the Pill is an engaging story of sexual revolution and power.

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Birth of the Pill from Audible in exchange for an honest review.

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Abe and Fido

They say that you can tell a lot about someone by the way he treats animals. When you read Abe and Fido, the story of Abraham Lincoln’s adored dog Fido, and Abraham Lincoln’s fierce love for animals, you can tell he would become a hero, willing to sacrifice himself.

When Lincoln was about six, a neighboring farmer gave him a piglet. He loved the little pig and even built a cradle out of a hollow log for him. You can imagine what happened when the pig became a hog. One day Lincoln woke up and saw that his Dad had built a spit to roast the pig. He ran into the woods with his pig and hid him all day. The next day, his Dad got up before him and Lincoln didn’t have a chance to hide his pig again. He had to hear the pig squeal and watch his family eat the meat later. He refused to eat the meat himself.

The story of a farmer’s child becoming attached to an animal who will become food isn’t new. But Lincoln is one of the few children who would risk his own comforts and his family’s wrath trying to save the pet he cherished. A hero protects animals. And through Abe and Fido, you can read the story of an emerging hero.

Fido was a stray dog who looked, judging from the surviving photographs, a lot like a Labrador Retriever. Fido would nap with Lincoln on the seven foot sofa Lincoln had custom made to accommodate his height. In the town of Springfield, Fido became a charming character, indulged even when his exuberance left muddy paw prints on the people he greeted. Lincoln’s young sons and their friends played with Fido when he wasn’t napping on the sofa.

Lincoln’s admiration for cats began when his Dad married his stepmother and she came with a cat. When he was in the White House, he used to feed a beautiful tabby in the chair next to him with a gold fork. Someone questioned him about feeding the cat with a gold fork. Lincoln replied that if the fork was good enough for President Buchanan, it was good enough for the cat. He played with cats when he needed a respite from unrelenting stress.

When I read the description of Abe and Fido, I was surprised that Lincoln didn’t take Fido to the White House with him. Spoiler Alert: Fido didn’t like politics. In the months leading up to Lincoln’s election, Fido began hiding under his seven foot sofa when boisterous politicians came to the house. Lincoln knew Fido would hate the long, noisy, train ride to Washington. He chose Fido’s happiness over his own and left Fido in Springfield with family friends. Lincoln insisted that the family take Fido’s favorite sofa too.

If you love animals, you’ll love Abe and Fido. You can see the book at Amazon by clicking on the image above.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Abe and Fido from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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P53 The Gene That Cracked The Cancer Code

Elizabeth Jasicki splendidly narrates P53 The Gene That Cracked The Cancer Code. This amazing book was written by Sue Armstrong. I’m always awe inspired when science is explained in an accessible way to people who, like me, don’t have the greatest science aptitude but have an avid interest.

P53 is the gene that protects us from cancer. Through the efforts of indomitable scientists, P53′s pivotal role in determining who will be ravaged by cancer and who will not has been repeatedly affirmed. One scientist purposely radiated his arm with a sun light to show that UV rays generate cell growth. If P53 is mutated, skin cancer can readily develop. Scientists have discovered two factors pertaining to skin cancer:
1) A serious sun burn in childhood;and;
2) Unprotected exposure to the sun in adulthood.

This was supported by ascertaining that light skin individuals who immigrate to areas with high sun exposure have a lower skin cancer rate than light skin individuals who have spent their entire lives in these areas.

With smoking and lung cancer, the evidence at first appeared circumstantial until tobacco’s mutating effect on P53 was conclusively proven. Some tobacco companies employed their own scientists and although they tried to discredit the link between smoking and cancer, the evidence became unassailable.

At its heart, P53 The Gene That Cracked The Cancer Code, is a story of dedicated sleuthing by the scientific community that led to a greater understanding of a disease that you can’t get through life without being impacted by in some way — either through your own experience or a family member or friend. If you could give more than five stars to a reviewed book, I’d give ten to this one.
Disclosure: I received a copy from Audible in exchange for an honest review.

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Conversations with Steve Martin; It’s a Keeper

Conversations with Steve Martin is a keeper! Someone had the exceptional idea of compiling interviews with this brilliant man from the 1970s through 2010 and the result is a book for your keeper shelf.

Through the interviews, you’ll find the thoughts and insights of a Renaissance man who has written plays, screenplays, novels, novellas, and stand up comedy for himself and other comedians. Of course you can’t read it without laughing out loud at times. It’s a book that you won’t necessarily want to read cover to cover but you’ll go back and savor again and again.

Bravo to the Literary Conversations Series for offering this delightful book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Conversations with Steve Martin from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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