Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Review of the amazing book Saving Abby by Steena Holmes

Saving Abby
Steena Holmes
264 pages
Published by Lake Union
Expected publication: May 31st, 2016
All children’s book illustrator Claire Turner ever wanted was to be a mother. After six years of trying to conceive, she and her husband, Josh, have finally accepted that she will never be pregnant with a child of their own.

Yet once they give up hope, the couple gets the miracle they’ve been waiting for. For the first few months of her pregnancy, Claire and Josh are living on cloud nine. But when she begins to experience debilitating headaches, blurred vision, and even fainting spells, the soon-to-be mother goes to the doctor and receives a terrifying diagnosis. Since any treatment could put their unborn baby’s life at risk, the Turners must carefully weigh their limited options. And as her symptoms worsen, Claire will have to make an impossible decision: Save her own life, or save her child’s?

I enjoyed this book it is simple and straightforward, making it a nice rainy weekend read. The story is laid out nicely It contains short chapters, each one being narrated from the perspective of Claire whose voice dominates the story, her husband Josh, and Claire’s mom Millie. Also flowing back and forth telling of past adventures Claire and Josh had taken to present day occurrences. Whereas told mostly in the here and now having present day written at the top of every new chapter became redundant. Depending on the person you might want to read it with a box of tissues, but I must say it is just as heartwarming and sweet of a tale. Containing no oppressive medical terminology as a reader you do not need to worry about being bogged down since the author stayed on the outskirts only using medical terms that were necessary.

“The tips of her fingers began to tingle and freeze, the coldness crawled along her veins, up her arms and into her chest. She couldn’t breathe. She struggled to make her lungs work, to draw in air and push it back out, But they were frozen as well. Her body floated over the chair she sat in  before things began to spin wildly around her. She tried to reach out to Josh, but he seemed so far away, and then everything disappeared,”

The story is set in a quaint little town off of Lake Huron where everyone knows each other and provides a great deal of support to Claire and Josh in their time of need. Claire's best friend Abby has been her doctor yet when things go terribly wrong medically with Claire she brings in a second doctor to help her with the case, Claire’s childhood doctor Dr. Shuman who always had strawberry lollipops because they are Claire's favorite even as a child. This is a well written and gratifying book.

“ “I just gave you an hour. You were supposed to use that time to shower and get dressed. What’s going on?” He wiped away the tears that lingered on her cheeks. “You cried almost all night while you slept, did you know that? He asked quietly...They’d arrived in Bruges yesterday in the early afternoon and spent hours walking the main street...Sampling chocolate in every chocolate shop in Bruges was on Josh’s bucket list.”


NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author - Steena is the author of the heart wrenching Finding Emma series. Steena Holmes grew up in a small town in Canada and holds a Bachelor's degree in Theology. In 2012 she received the Indie Excellence Award. Holmes was inspired to write Finding Emma after experiencing a brief moment of horror when she’d thought her youngest daughter was missing.  She currently lives in Calgary with her husband and three daughters and loves to wake up to the Rocky Mountains each morning.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Steena Holmes’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, May 30thLuxury Reading
Tuesday, May 31stReadaholic Zone
Wednesday, June 1stThoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, June 2ndKritter’s Ramblings
Monday, June 6thReading Cove Book Club
Thursday, June 9thA Chick Who Reads
Friday, June 10thNot in Jersey
Monday, June 13thFictionZeal
Monday, June 13thBooks a la Mode – guest post
Thursday, June 16thJust Commonly
Friday, June 17thGood Girl Gone Redneck
Monday, June 20thBook Mama Blog
Tuesday, June 21stThe Warlock’s Gray Book
Wednesday, June 22ndStranded in Chaos
Friday, June 24thChick Lit Central – spotlight

*Thank You,TLC Book Tours, for allowing me to give an honest review of this book

Monday, May 23, 2016

Shining sea Blitz & Book Giveaway

Shining Sea
Mimi Cross
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

Seventeen-year-old Arion Rush has always played the obedient sidekick to her older sister’s flashy femme fatale—until a mysterious boating accident leaves Lilah a silent, traumatized stranger. As her sister awaits medical treatment with their mother, Arion and their father head to his hometown in Maine to prepare a new life for them all. Surrounded by the vast Atlantic, songwriting is Arion’s only solace, her solid ground.
Unexpectedly, Arion blossoms in the tiny coastal town. Friends flock to her, and Logan Delaine, a volatile heartthrob, seems downright smitten. But it’s Bo Summers—a solitary surfer, as alluring as he is aloof—that Arion can’t shake. Meanwhile, Lilah’s worsening condition, a string of local fatalities, and Arion’s own recent brushes with death seem ominously linked…to Bo’s otherworldly family. As Arion’s feelings for Bo intensify and his affections turn possessive, she must make a choice. How will Arion learn to listen to her own voice when Bo’s siren song won’t stop ringing in her ears?
Tuneless humming is coming from the bedroom next to mine. I’ve always been the better singer, no secret. Even before I could talk, I sang. To me, singing feels like . . . flying.
As a little kid I sang in the church choir, later on in the choruses at school, and about six months ago I started writing songs—not that I’d call myself a songwriter yet. My first gig was last week, down in the Mission District. Standing on the spotlit stage of the black box performance space, I played one long set—twelve tunes total—while hipsters watched with crossed arms.
Performing in front of an audience is a good way to tell if your songs are finished.
Or not.
The song I’m trying to capture now definitely falls into the not category.
I give the guitar a soft strum—a ghost of a chord slips out. Playing the haunting notes a little louder, I listen for the melody. It’ll come, eventually, but we’re leaving any minute.
Not just leaving . . . moving.
“Do you know,” I whisper sing, “where lost things go?”
In the next room Lilah falls silent. The lyrics tangle in my throat.
My fingers fumble, then jerk—playing a rhythmic pattern atop a single minor chord: one and two, one and two. Words tumble out of me. “Saint Anthony, can you come around? There’s something lost, and it can’t be found.”
Saint Anthony—is he the one?
A quick Google search on the laptop perched at the end of my bed tells me he is. Saint Anthony is invoked as the finder of lost things. Pulling my guitar closer, I play the line over and over.
“Arion? You up there?”
Dad. After shoving the laptop into my backpack, I shut the guitar in its case and head into the hall. Hands full, I stand in my sister’s doorway.
She doesn’t see me.
Even as thin as she is, even with the ever-present dark shadows beneath her eyes, Lilah is beautiful. Her features are regular and in proportion. Mine . . . are slightly exaggerated. Nose longer, lips fuller. Now, without music to distract me, the tears I’d vowed not to cry fill my eyes. Brown eyes. On a good day, they’re hazel. Maybe.
There’s no mistaking the color of my sister’s eyes. Bright blue. Her hair is black and shiny, cut straight across her forehead and blunt at her shoulders in a way that has always made me think of Cleopatra, but especially since the accident, when she became a mystery to me. Lilah no longer tells me her every thought. She can’t.
My sister blinks her bellflower eyes now, and for a split second— seems to focus on me.
But the illusion vanishes just as quickly. I swallow around the lump in my throat, wondering for the millionth time if she has any idea what’s going on.
Her bed is up against the window. In the distance—over a nearly invisible San Francisco Bay—the Golden Gate Bridge hovers in fog. Sitting down beside her on the bed, I lay a hand on one of her legs—feel bones, atrophied muscles. A raw feeling spreads through me, like a dull blade is scraping the underside of my skin.
“So . . . guess it’s time for goodbye.” I take a deep breath in, let it out slowly—which doesn’t help at all. “I’ll see you in Rock Hook Harbor. Dad’s one-horse hometown . . . Sounds happening, huh?” My attempt at lightheartedness fails completely. The words drop like bricks.
Leaning in, I kiss her cheek.
She turns away, as if looking toward the ghostly water. Or, is she looking at the water? Or just staring blankly?
I so want it to be the former. The doctors say it’s the latter.
In my chest, a hairline fissure I’ve fused together with lyrics and chords pops open.
“I love you,” I choke out.
She doesn’t answer. Of course she doesn’t.
Biting down hard on my lip, I stand up, trying not to feel like I’m leaving my best friend stranded. But I am. She is. Stranded. She’s been stranded, for a year.
Swiping at my eyes, I take a few steps down the hall—then turn suddenly into my parents’ room, which is mostly Mom’s room now. Dad spends the nights he’s here on the living room couch, where, after dinner—usually something complicated he’s cooked up involving lots of pots and pans—he falls asleep with the TV on. Blue screen to white noise; maybe the sound helps him. Music works better for me. Or, it used to. I used to lie in bed at night and sing. Lately, all I want to do is sleep.
Like the rest of the house, my parents’ bedroom is crowded with canvases. Filled with slashes of color and geometric shapes, each paint- ing has the name “Cici” scrawled in large letters down in the right-hand corner. Mom’s pictures pulse with unfamiliar energy, and my nostrils flare at the scent of paint fumes as I move a half-finished piece—an abstract portrait of a girl, I think—that’s leaning up against the glass door. Slipping out onto the balcony, I clutch the cold railing and eye a moldering stack of Psychology Today magazines. Therapy is Mom’s religion.
A pair of paint-splattered jeans hangs off a chair. A handful of paintbrushes soak in a bucket. There’s no sign of Dad.
My parents are like a couple of unmoored boats. Drifting. One of the few things they agreed on this past year? The accident was Dad’s fault. A pretty stupid conclusion, really, considering he hadn’t even been on the boat. But he’s a ship’s captain. Lilah and I inherited our love of the water from him.
Water. I hate it now. Because of the water, I’m on this balcony almost every day, drawn out here as if for a long-standing appointment, some prearranged meeting between me and my broken heart. I cry here; sometimes I yell. Sometimes I write, and one day, I nearly threw my guitar over the railing.
Splintered wood, snapped strings, I’m interested in broken things. The circling song lyrics fade at the sound of Mom’s strained voice. “Arion, have you finished saying goodbye to Delilah? Your dad’s ready to go.”
I stay another second, then scoop up a stray guitar pick from the terracotta tiles and head inside, not paying any attention to the paint- ings now, just intent on leaving before I get any more upset.
But then I’m passing Lilah’s room—and I see it.
The slim black notebook I’ve searched for probably a hundred times over the past year.
Oh, I’ve seen the palm-size Moleskine with its curled cover, seen it clutched in Lilah’s fist, watched as she whisked the small black book beneath her quilt, or shoved it between her sheets. I just haven’t been able to get my hands on it, and I’ve wanted to, desperately.
So many times I’ve seen her slip the notebook between the over- size pages of the art books that Mom insists on bringing home from the library. She’ll hug the book close then—her treasure safe inside— but she’ll never actually look at the glossy pages. Not like she looks at that notebook. She looks at that black book like it’s the only thing she recognizes.
It’s definitely some kind of diary. Not that I ever see her writing in it, not since before. But she’s always got it on her.
Only, she doesn’t have it on her now.
Now, there it is, on the floor next to her bed. And Lilah, there she is, still looking but not looking out the window. Transfixed, it would seem, by the gray bay. As I watch, she lifts one hand, bringing her fingertips to the glass—as if there’s something out there she wants to touch.
It’s kind of amazing how I do it, how I steal her most precious pos- session without breaking my stride. How I silently sweep into the room and, bending low, snatch it up—then keep on walking like nothing’s happened. Like I’m ten-year-old Lilah herself, that time at the rock and gem shop down near the beach, trying on one sterling silver ring, then another. I’ll never forget it, how she smiled at the shopkeeper—maybe even said thank you—then practically skipped out the door, still wear- ing at least one of the rings. Once outside, she tossed a half-dozen more rings onto the pebbles that served as the shop’s front yard, so that she could retrieve them that night when the gem shop was closed, so that we could retrieve them.
Eight-year-old me, I’d held the flashlight for her. She’d given me one of the rings as my reward, but only one.
I feel bad taking the book; if I could read it and leave it, I would. But there’s no time. Through the hall window I can see Dad standing down in the driveway by the old green Jeep Cherokee, the car that will be mine once we get to Maine.
So I slide the notebook into the pocket of my backpack where it burns a hole so big I think it will surely fall out—pages fluttering like fiery wings—and slap the floor with a sound so sharp, Lilah will shud- der to life. She’ll spring up and shout at me, her old self at last.
But nothing like this happens.
Leaving Lilah. Taking the notebook. My skin ripples with guilt. But we have to go on ahead. School’s starting in a few weeks, plus Dad’s new job—they won’t hold it any longer.
And really, I have to take the book. I need to know what happened.
Out in the driveway, I crane my neck, trying to see if Lilah’s still at the window.
“Hold on,” Mom shouts from the house, “I almost forgot!”
Time seems suspended as Dad and I wait by the car, the limbo of the long ride already upon us . . .
Mom reappears holding a square box wrapped in gold paper and a purple ribbon. Balanced on top is a fat cupcake with pink frosting.
“Happy birthday, Arion.” Her flinty blue eyes soften. She hands me the awkward duo and gives me an equally awkward hug. “From both of us.”
Dad smiles, shakes his head. “Seventeen.” He’s always been a man of few words.
“Thanks, Mom. Dad.” Swallowing hard, I climb into the car with the gifts on my lap. Mom pecks Dad on the cheek, and he gets behind the wheel. As we pull away, she blows me a kiss.
Twisting in my seat, I wave—then look up at the second story. No Lilah.
My chest hurts so much—I actually glance down. But there’s nothing except a smear of pink icing on my shirt, where I’d leaned into the cupcake.
We’ll fly back close to Thanksgiving, when Lilah is scheduled for the operation that my parents have finally decided is her best bet: a surgical procedure to implant a device in her brain.
It’s not as sci-fi as it sounds. The battery-operated device is kind of like a pacemaker, only for your brain instead of your heart. This kind of surgery is used to treat a variety of disabling neurological symptoms, although I think whoever came up with DBS—deep brain stimulation—was thinking of people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, not, well, whatever’s wrong with Lilah. Her case is—entirely different. I’m not going to pretend: I’m scared. But the plan is, we’ll all be together in Maine by Christmas, so that’s what I’m trying to focus on. I’ll miss Lilah. Mom too. But I’m glad to be leaving San Francisco.
My life here . . . is on hold—except for my music. The rest is a waiting game.
We’ve all been waiting for Lilah to find what she lost. As if she can look for it.

Author Bio:
Mimi Cross was born in Toronto, Canada. She received a master's degree from New York University and a bachelor's degree in music from Ithaca College. She has been a performer, a music educator, and a yoga instructor. During the course of her musical career, she's shared the bill with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Sting. She resides in New Jersey.

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Friday, May 20, 2016



Under My Skin
Published by: Carina Press (HQN)
Publication date: March 31st, 2015

Inside we are all monsters…

Chloe was once a normal girl. Until the night of the car crash that nearly claimed her life. Now Chloe’s mother is dead, her father is a shell of the man he used to be and the secrets that had so carefully kept their family together are falling apart.

A new start is all Chloe and her father can hope for, but when you think you’re no longer human how can you ever start pretending?

A contemporary reworking of a British horror classic, Under My Skin follows seventeen-year-old Chloe into an isolated world of darkness and pain, as she struggles to understand what it really means to be alive.

Set against the familiar backdrop of everyday, normal teenage worries, Chloe’s world has become anything but…

WARNING after you pick up this book and begin reading an unknown entity will not allow you to put the book down until the task is fully completed. If you finish the book unscathed as I have, you will be astounded by how much fun an experience you just had. Beware to all who do not read horror Do Not Run from this book it is not truly grotesque horror - more like old school sci-fi. Yes, the plot is unusual and bizarre yet also a bit mournful due to the sympathy I feel for what Chloe is enduring including being forced to be put through a hellish experience. I felt a bond with Chloe over our mutual love of books, but not the way she devours meat that was the only part that grossed me out.

“The texture of cold meat in my mouth, and the thick, slimy feel of a raw egg as it slides down my throat, and another, and another. I see the shells cracked and lying on the side, but I have no memory of cracking them.”
- Chloe

The prose is impeccable with superb creative wording and sentence structure. The author was full on with the mental capacity of a teenager creating remarkable characters. I loved the cool British wording & slang. This read has some foolproof twists except for one situation that is predictable. Zoe Markham, you know what part I am writing about the black man is so obvious why? Also are the schools in Britain all that strange & demented (JOKE)? I am beyond overjoyed that there is going to be a follow-up to this book!

“I get that familiar panicky sensation of ice flooding my stomach”
- Chloe

About Zoe
A full-time editor by day, Zoë writes furiously at night when her son's safely in bed and the coffee's on. She currently has two Young Adult novels published with Carina UK (Harpercollins) and two more due out late 2016 with Grimbold Books.

She likes her fiction dark and disturbing, and some of her favorite authors include Darren Shan, Stephen King, Derek Landy, Patrick Ness and Alexander Gordon Smith.

Zoë has a completely unfounded fear of mushrooms and doesn't feel at all comfortable writing about herself in the third person. She also worries about boring you here before you've had a chance to check out her Books page, but if you'd like to know more, pop over and say hello on Twitter and she'll more than likely talk your ear off.

Monday, May 16, 2016


Because I Love You
Tori Rigby
Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: May 17th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult


Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.
Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.
Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she’s forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.
BILY Teaser April 19
No matter how much I needed him, I couldn’t let Neil throw his future away for me. He would do anything to keep me protected, comforted; I knew that like I knew the sky was blue. But I had to show him the same selfless love, or I’d forever regret holding him back. Which meant one thing: I was on my own.
My stomach turned to stone. But what about Ethan? Even if I did manage to drop out of high school and find a job that paid a decent wage, I couldn’t provide for a baby by myself. I couldn’t raise a baby in poverty—I wouldn’t. My son deserved so much more. But how the hell was I supposed to let him go?
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Author Bio:
Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay at home mom, Tori Rigby grew up with her nose in a book and her fingers on piano keys, always awaiting the day she’d take her own adventure. Now, she goes on multiple journeys through her contemporary and historical romances. She longs to live in the Scottish Highlands, and her favorite place in history is Medieval England—she’d even give up her Internet and running water to go back in time! Tori also writes high-concept genre fiction as Vicki Leigh, and when she isn’t writing, she’s kicking butt in krav maga or attending classes to learn how to catch bad guys.

Monday, May 9, 2016

GIVEAWAY of FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU Also A Conversation with Thad Carhart the books author

FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU: An American Boy in France
Publication by VIKING
Published on May 17th, 2016
Hardcover304 pages
FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU recounts the adventures of Carhart and his family—his NATO officer father, his mother, four siblings, and their dog—in the provincial town of Fontainebleau, France. Dominating life in the town is the beautiful Château of Fontainebleau, and the book intertwines stories of France’s post-war recovery with profiles of the monarchs who resided at Fontainebleau throughout the centuries and left their architectural stamp on the palace and its sizeable grounds. Years after his family moves back to the States, Carhart finds himself drawn back as an adult, eager to rediscover the town of his childhood, and in FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU he shares both his memories and his new discoveries with warmth and humor.

A Conversation with Thad Carhart, author of
Finding Fontainebleau
An American Boy in France

Q. Many parts of Finding Fontainebleau are written in the same vein as The Piano Shop on the Left Bank. What do you feel are the similarities, and the differences?

I’ve been very lucky with The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, an international bestseller that is still in print. A writer is never entirely sure why a book captures the public’s imagination, but I think a big part of Piano Shop’s appeal has been the look at French life away from the familiar tourist circuit. It’s not that easy to get below the surface of things in France, and readers seem to have been hungry for stories about a French approach to things in Paris. In this respect, Finding Fontainebleau has a similar voice and scope, though the setting of the little Parisian shop is replaced by our family’s big old rented house in Fontainebleau and the adjacent Château.

What separates the two books is a focus in Finding Fontainebleau on France in the 50s, as experienced by an American family. The period covered is greater, too, moving back and forth from my childhood to more recent times, when my wife and I settled in Paris and raised our own children here.

A point both books share is the story of two Frenchmen – the shop’s owner, Luc, in Piano Shop; the Château’s chief architect, Patrick Ponsot, in Finding Fontainebleau – who go about their business with a seriousness of purpose coupled with an abiding sense of light humor that could only be French. While Finding Fontainebleau is in no way intended as a kind of “prequel” to Piano Shop, I like to think of them as companion volumes, drawing the reader into aspects of French life that are otherwise inaccessible.

Q. You’ve lived in Paris for more than 25 years and could have chosen any number of subjects that are better known. Why write about Fontainebleau?

The short answer is that I lived there as a child, and so there has always been a gravitational pull to a place that had such a strong effect on my early life. The longer response is that I came to understand the extraordinary importance of Fontainebleau as a site only as an adult. In that sense, my arc has been from the happenstance of childhood to the appreciation than an adult can bring to bear only after learning much more about France.

I’ve visited most of the great châteaux of France over the years – Versailles, of course, but also Chambord, Chenonceaux, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Chantilly, and many others. I have my favorites, naturally enough, but for me there is no site quite so rich, storied, or delightful as Fontainebleau. By turns a hunting lodge, château, palace, seat of government, and museum, it is the single greatest assemblage of successive architectural styles and decorative arts in all of France. If a visitor to France wants to understand the richness and breadth of French history, no structure tells the story better than the multiple wings and courtyards of Fontainebleau.

The Château is one of the oldest places continually occupied by the kings of France, a direct connection to medieval times. For example, Thomas à Becket, the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, consecrated the original chapel at Fontainebleau in 1169. A line of rulers favored Fontainebleau from the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance, the French Baroque, the Enlightenment, and past the Revolution to the two Napoleons of the 19th century, and each left his mark. Now the French Republic attends to its treasures on behalf of the people of France.

My story is two-fold: the account of living in this remarkable town as a boy, going to French schools, visiting Paris on weekends; and my return to the Château as a grown-up when I was able to witness significant parts of the ongoing restoration of its rooms by French experts. What I share in this account is my discovery of Fontainebleau’s unique legacy when I was allowed behind the scenes. It is where the Renaissance was first brought to northern France, and those treasures, like so many others, are once again intact and accessible to the visitor. I think there’s an inherent allure about the site that will capture the imagination of readers once they know the contours of the story.

Q. Why is it that Fontainebleau isn’t better known?

The simplest reason, I think, is that Versailles occupies the field as the “go to” château for visitors to Paris. But the reasons are in fact more complex than that. No single personality or period is associated with Fontainebleau, as is the case with Louis XIV and Versailles. One of Fontainebleau’s most attractive features is the fact that an unbroken continuum of French art, style, and architecture can be seen intact.

A particularly French notion of restraint infuses the rooms: grand, certainly, but seldom showy. Nor does the Château dominate the landscape when seen from afar, in the manner of Chambord or Versailles. Rather, when a visitor spends a day there, she or he takes in an accumulation of styles that are distinctive in themselves, but that magically cohere into a pleasing whole. Fontainebleau’s subtleties are multiple, creating an atmosphere that is both captivating and unique. It takes some time, and some imagination, to drink in its splendors, but a certain ambiance stays with you.

Q. Your family arrived in Fontainebleau less than ten years after the war, and throughout Finding Fontainebleau there’s an almost palpable sense of the War and the Occupation in France. Why is this?

I was born well after the war, so everything associated with it seemed to me at the time like ancient history. But of course, a decade is not long at all in historical terms. It was only much later that I came to understand how World War II had shaken the entire country to its core. This was the France we arrived in, still recovering from the nightmare of defeat, privation, shortages, and the presence of the enemy on French soil for four long years. The bitter shame of having your country taken over by a foreign power isn’t something Americans experienced in the war, and that wound deeply marked a generation of the French.

The parts of my narrative that touch on this trauma are the things I noticed as a child: people picking up dropped pieces of coal from the gutter; the shock when my mother found that our babysitter was illiterate because of the war’s convulsions; the discovery that our house had been requisitioned for German officers during the Occupation. Only when I returned with my own children did I fully appreciate the remarkable achievement of the French in first surviving, then thriving as a nation. That, too, is part of the book’s story.

Q. In Finding Fontainebleau, as in your other books, you touch on the whole notion of living “in between” two languages, two countries, two cultures. Why is this important?

My immersion in French during the years in Fontainebleau changed everything. Children aren’t given a vote in such matters; it just happened. As with anyone who grows up conversant in two languages, it altered the way I look at the world, in big ways and small. I was given a kind of alternative self, grounded in France and its attitudes. It meant that I developed a healthy skepticism for occasional French posturing, but also an abiding affection for a country that is far more beguiling than the prevalent ideas of many outsiders would suggest. I don’t regard myself as a missionary for things French, but I do enjoy telling stories that allow others to appreciate the human qualities that still set France apart.

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*Please Return In June To Read My Review Of Finding Fontainebleau