Monday, July 31, 2023

Goodbye Paris In July! Goodbye Papa! 👋🏼

I got through July with mixed feelings. The first half is full of joy and cheerfulness. I read a lot - four books - for Paris in July. I even got a chance to do virtual walking in Paris. All was well.

Then came the storm. On 16th July, my Parkinson's-father felt sharp pain in his right chest - he couldn't breathe without pain. We brought him to the ER, where they'd found an infection, Pneumonia-turned-sepsis in his lung. That night they put him in ICU. Two days later he passed away, only two days short of his 80th birthday.

My mother and I knew beforehand that the end is near because of Papa's worsening condition. So, we have prepared ourselves for the big day. We were constantly by his side during his last hours - together with Papa's two younger brothers - caressing him, showering him with love and forgiveness, saying goodbyes, and also prayers. We witnessed the continuing drops of Papa's vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, respiration) from the monitor, until he passed. I'm relieved that Papa didn't suffer during his passing, he was as peaceful as if falling to deep sleep.

After that, it's the exhausting business of burying a loved one, which you could probably have imagined. I've slept very little during that tough week, constantly making important decisions, being an only child. But thank God, my best friends came to the rescue (indeed, you'd realize who your true friends are in times like this!), and I could finally get through those trying moments. My books are also the silent but most reliable friends I could always count on.

This day, I am in process of re-constructing my life. I often miss Papa, but am relieved at the same time that his suffering has come to an end, and he now lives happily ever after with Our Father in heaven. One day we will be together again, but for now I must continue on without him.

I'm sorry for not having been much around the blogosphere lately - I miss visiting your blogs, leaving comments, and replying to your comments. Don't worry, I'll come around eventually! Meanwhile, here's my recap of Paris in July 2023:

Books read and reviewed:
The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux
The President's Hat by Antoine Laurain
Letters from My Windmill by Alphonse Daudet
Dear Paris: The Paris Letters Collection by Janice MacLeod

Paris posts beyond reading:
A Walk in Paris: Montmartre District
My French Playlist

A huge thanks to Emma @ Words and Peace for hosting this wonderful event, and I really hope I can enjoy much more next year. But for now, I must say: Goodbye Paris in July 2023! Goodbye Papa! Au revoir! 👋🏼

Friday, July 28, 2023

Dear Paris: The Paris Letters Collection by Janice MacLeod: A Review for #ParisInJuly

🎨 It's all started when Janice MacLeod sent illustrated letters about her beautiful Paris to her friends years ago. Then she started a letter subscription service in Etsy, through which, her subscribers monthly receive her illustrated letters. This book is a selected collection of 140 of those letters, written within the span of  eight years, from 2012 to 2020.

🎨 These letters are addressed mostly to her friend named Áine, and only one is addressed to another woman. They celebrate the day-to-day of Parisian's life, as well as Janice's growing love of the city. She met Christophe, her future husband, there. She lives in an apartment on Rue Mouffetard, and while sitting at the cafe watching the world goes by, she used to make sketches. What an unexpected business future lays await for her from these seemingly idle occupation! This book contains those snippets of things that makes Paris dear to many people - citizens as well as tourists. It's a real joy to read, especially for anyone who loves Paris, like I do.

🎨 Besides some usual landmarks like Montmartre, Shakespeare and Company, or Jardin du Luxembourg, Janice also wrote about interesting facts or hidden gems that ordinary tourists might seldom know. The Zouave statue, for instance. I didn't know there's such statue located at the foot of Pont de l'Alma which Parisians use to gauge the water level in case the Seine was rising. Or, the fact that there were already 35 permanent carousels in Paris before the city added 20 more when Janice wrote her letter on January 2013!

🎨 If you have watched Midnight in Paris (I have, perhaps five times!), you'd probably remember the steps where Gil Pender is sitting while the clock strikes 12, and a vintage car which brought him to the 1920s era appeared? Thanks to Janice's February 2014 letter, now I know that the legendary steps belong to Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church! If I ever go back to Paris one day, I'd certainly visit this church, if only just to sit on those steps!

🎨 I loved Janice's writing, but much more than that, her gorgeous paintings! She really captures the true heart and soul of the city. In futile I have searched for favorites, I loved them all! But if you need a few peeks, here are two of them:

🎨 This might not be her best, but I think it captures the Parisian soul perfectly. It's about an old lady, Janice's neighbor, who said that "at my age I could "expire" at any moment". Janice's been keeping an eye on her ever since, but one day she saw her dancing at the Sunday market with a handsome man. "Every Sunday on Rue Mouffetard there is music, dancing, and a sing-a-long." The painting says it all, doesn't it? It makes me longing to move there!...

🎨 This one is titled Covered Passages, and I've found through Google that this is actually the Passage Jouffroy in 9th arrondissement. Details in the painting are slightly altered, but who cares when the final painting looks that beautiful?

The actual Passage Jouffroy

🎨 I have loved Paris since I took a French course at CCF (Centre Culturel Français) more than twenty years ago, and then loved it even more after my short visit there. But now, if it's possible, I love Paris even more after reading and enjoying this book. If you are a Francophile or loves paintings, this book is definitely for you!

🎨 My only complaint is that Janice included several letters about her journeys to other countries: Italy, Germany, UK, Belgium, Canada, US, even Japan. When you titled a book Dear Paris, one expects to find Paris (or at least French) things only in it. It's better to have only 100 illustrated letters about Paris or France, than having got 140 but finding random countries in it! It is that aspect which costs this book half star of otherwise a solid five, but other than that, it is a most delightful charming memoir to read!

Rating: 4,5 / 5


4th book for Paris in July

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Letters from My Windmill by Alphonse Daudet: A Review

As hinted by the title, this book (originally titled Lettres de mon moulin) consists of short stories, written as letters addressed to a Parisian. The narrator was relocated from his Paris home, and now lives in an rented abandoned windmill he in Provence.

In these letters, he recounted his new life in Provence; from day-to-day events in the countryside - which are so different from the hustle-bustle of a big city - to some Provençal folktales. In addition to that, he also included his trips to Corsica and Algeria.

Some of these stories - or sketches, you might call it - are light and funny, but there are few of them which is satirical, and even sad. I loved the first story: First Impressions, it transported me to the quiet countryside of southern France:

"I am writing to you from my Windmill, with the door wide open to the brilliant sunshine. In front of me, a lovely, sparkling lit, pine wood plunges down to the bottom of the hill. The nearest mountains, the Alpilles, are far away, their grand silhouettes pressing against the sky... There was hardly a sound to be heard; a fading fire, a curlew calling amongst the lavender, and a tinkle of mules' bells from somewhere along the track. The Provençal light really brings this beautiful landscape to life."

 Don't you just love it? I can feel the serene quietness in my head, the warm sun caressing my skin right now!

Daudet's mill in Fontvielle, open for tourists, complete with museum

Some of the 'folktales' are pretty hilarious. The Pope's Mule is perhaps one of my favorites. It's about.. well, a Papal mule who was used to be spoilt by the owner, that when a naughty boy was hired to take care of her, he grudged the boy's bullies and cruelty. She longed to give the boy a mighty kick, but before she got a chance, the boy was sent abroad. But the mule never forgets. Seven years she waited patiently to get his sweet revenge. Will she succeed?

Another one I loved is The Stars. It's a sweet tale about a shepherd who is falling in love with his master's charming daughter.

All in all, I loved all the fourteen stories. The beautiful Provençal countryside with its fife player, tambourines, and farandole dances are what one needs in this bleak existence one lives in.

Rating: 4 / 5


3rd book for Paris in July 2023

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Paris in July: My Current French Playlist

I am not a music person - meaning that I occasionally play some music (usually during office hours), but I'm not addicted to it. But every July, I couldn't resist from playing some French music from my playlist every now and then.

This year has been tough for me, so I need some cheerful music to lift up my spirit. I was drawn to this particular singer's voice and the kind of her songs:

Tatiana Eva-Marie & Avalon Jazz Band

From website:
"Nicknamed the Gypsy-jazz Warbler by the New York Times, Tatiana Eva-Marie is a transatlantic bandleader, singer, author, and actress based in Brooklyn. She plays French pop derived from the Django tradition with Balkan Gypsy and folk influences.

Though her interests have led her to explore a wide range of musical styles, Tatiana Eva-Marie’s craft is always inspired by her own French and Balkan heritage; a love for the Parisian art scene era spanning the 1920s to the 60s; a passion for traditional Gypsy songs; a fascination for New Orleans music; and a deep connection to the Great American Songbook.

I love jazz, particularly that of the 20th century (vintage). That's why Tatiana's Youtube videos immediately become my favorite. She sings quite a lot of French songs, or song about France/Paris, and also American ones. But, of course, my interest this month is only for the French ones.

My favorite is her rendition of Cole Porter's I Love Paris. It's light, rhythmic, with cheerful notes and accordion! Not only do I LOVE Paris, I also like Cole Porter (another of my favorite is Let's Fall in Love, which was one of the theme-songs in Midnight in Paris).

Several more of her songs that made up my playlist:

🎶 Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (composed by Léo Chauliac and Charles Trenet)
🎶 Si Tu Vois Ma Mère (composed by Sidney Bechet). This is also one of Midnight in Paris's theme songs.
🎶 Fleur Bleu (Charles Trenet)
🎶 Un Rien Me Fait Chanter (Charles Trenet)
🎶 J'ai ta main (Charles Trenet)
🎶 Qu'est ce qu'on attend pour être heureux (Paul Misraki)

Do you have certain playlist for #ParisInJuly? What kind of song it consist of?


Monday, July 24, 2023

Six in Six, 2023 edition

I first saw this meme at Words and Peace, and thought it's a fun way to recap my first semester reading of this year.

What is Six in Six?
It's an annual meme created and hosted by Jo @ Book Jotter.
As we are halfway through the year, let us share the books we have read in those first 6 months. In fact let’s share 6 books in 6 categories. 

From the list of categories to choose from, I picked these six which accommodate every single the books I have read from January to June, except for three re-reads:

* Sad Cypress (Agatha Christie)
* The Ladies Paradise (Émile Zola)
* N or M? (Agatha Christie)

Now the Six in Six:

Six New Authors to Me
(with the books I have read of)

1. Susan Fenimore Cooper (Rural Hours)
4. Bailey Booth (Art Heists and Hairballs)
5. Nancy Mitford (Pigeon Pie)
6. Margery Sharp (The Stone of Chastity)

Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of
(with the books I have read of)

1. Moray Dalton (One by One They Disappeared)
2. Barbara Pym (Some Tame Gazelle)
3. Merryn Allingham (The Bookshop Murder)
4. Dolores Hitchens (The Cat Saw Murder)
6. Margery Sharp (The Stone of Chastity)

Six books I have enjoyed the most

1. Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
2. The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham
3. Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym
4. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
6. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Six blogging events I enjoyed

2. Classics Club Spin #32
3. Buddy Read of Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk with @melmarian

Six classics I have read

1. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
2. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
3. Jane of Lantern Hill by L.M. Montgomery
4. Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk (The Dancer) by Ahmad Tohari
5. The Professor's House by Willa Cather
6. Aunts Aren't Gentleman by P.G. Wodehouse

Six book covers I love

3. Some Tame Gazelle

4. All Creatures Great and Small

6. Pigeon's Pie


Friday, July 21, 2023

Fifty-Four Pigs (2022) by Philipp Schott: A Cozy Mystery

This is the first book in Dr. Bannerman Vet Mystery series. The writer, Philipp Schott, is a veterinarian too. He was born in Germany, but grew up in Canada. So, it is in Canada that this cozy mystery is set.

🐷 Our sleuth is Dr. Peter Bannerman, an introverted veterinarian who is obsessed with orders, numbers, and lists. One day he saw a swine barn exploded. It belongs to Tom Pearson, one of his neighbors in New Selfos, a small lakeside town near Manitoba. When the Police investigates, they find fifty five bodies - fifty four of the pigs (as hinted in the title), and one of human's.

🐷 Whose body was that? Who has set the explosion? And why in Tom's swine barn in particular? These are what's puzzling the police (Kevin, Peter Bannerman's brother-in-law), and also Peter. He pities the pigs, of course, but is also intrigued by the mystery. His curiosity is further peaked by a few break-ins at his house and clinic, where nothing valuable were stolen other than meat in the freezer - pork shoulders and ham. That's weird, isn't it?

🐷 When Tom becomes the police's prime suspect, and then disappeared, Peter decides to combine his logic and his dog Pippin's nose to solve the mystery.

🐷 Despite the rather too slow a start through the first half of the book, this proved to be the first of a promising series. Schott takes efforts to lay his foundation; describing the history of New Selfos, and even how Peter first met his wife Laura. Luckily the second half is fully packed with another murder and some thrilling actions, including Peter and Pippin's confrontation with the murderer amidst heavy blizzards near the frozen Lake Winnipeg.

🐷 The conclusion is a bit too farfetched for my liking, but I really enjoyed Peter's sleuthing. His is a unique personality, and I think my decision to continue reading the series is partly solely on that. And on Pippin and his mate, Merry the cat; both were named - as you might have guessed - from Lord of the Rings' characters. Coincidentally, Pippin happens to by my favorite character from LOTR!

🐷 By the way, I loved Laura too (Peter's wife). She's a sensible unassuming woman who has a knitting business. She accepts orders of Harry Potter, LOTR, or Star Wars-themed knitting from her customers. What an exciting business, eh? I can't wait to read the next books, hopefully with living animals as the center of the story, not dead ones as in this book.

I listened this story from an audiobook, narrated by Miles Meili. His accent is a bit weird for me; he raises his voice at the end of sentences. At first is is a bit annoying, but his articulation is good, which is the more important for an audiobook.

Rating: 4 / 5


Monday, July 17, 2023

Heads You Lose (1941) by Christianna Brand: A Golden Age Mystery

👒 Grace Morland is a spinster who's in love with Stephen Pendock, her landlord and squire of Pigeonsford village. She likes to paint on his porch, usually quite late in the morning, in the hope of being invited for tea at the cottage. However, Pendock is in love with another, a younger girl called Francesca (Fran) Hart, who, at the moment, is staying at the cottage with her twin sister Venetia Hart, her brother in law, her grandmother, Lady Hart, and a young man called James Nicholl, who 's in love with her.

👒 On that fatal day, after tea, Fran is showing a hat she's just bought. In her jealousy, Grace, after witnessing Pendock having been smitten by Fran, blurted out that she hates the hat, and that "I wouldn't be seen dead in a ditch in a hat like that!" Indeed, that night, Grace is found dead, inside a ditch in Pendock's garden, with decapitated head, and Fran's new hat on it!

👒 The murder investigator is Inspector Cockrill from Scotland Yard - an old friend of Pendock and his guests, whom they usually call Cocky. It is a difficult task to investigate one's own friends, let alone six people who are attached to each other. There's always chance they don't speak the truth to cover the others.

👒 Everyone hopes the murderer is committed by outsiders - Pippi Le May, Grace Morland's cousin who's staying with her perhaps? Or maybe Pendock's butler, who was always away visiting his sick sister when the two murders were committed? There're two murders, then? Yes, they were. But what is the motive? Surely it's done by a lunatic out there? All six people at Pigeonsford cottage hope it was, but Inspector Cockrill is also sure it was committed by one of those six. Which one? Why?

👒 This was my first introduction to Christianna Brand, and I am impressed. Her style reminds me much of Christie's, particularly the psychological aspect. It is a very character-driven story, with a brilliantly plotted crime. Brand meticulously built tension among the closed-circle suspects; we get to know little by little their true personalities, fears, and secrets along every chapter. And I loved the way Brand told us most of what's happening through dialogs and actions, while cleverly keeping only the key to the mystery. There are writers who hide these facts from readers, and they're only become known to us later in the narrative, which I dislike.

👒 All in all, for me, this was a satisfying murder crime. I could guess the murderer, though I was doubting a bit on the middle, with the red herrings and what not. The motive is quite surprising, though I should have seen it coming. Now I can't wait to read more from Brand!

👒 I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Derek Perkins. It's not very pleasant at first, due to the narrator's dragging speech, but after a while I was getting used to it, and focusing more on the story.

Rating: 4,5 / 5

For Bingo Card: Closed Circle of Suspects

Friday, July 14, 2023

The President's Hat (2012) by Antoine Laurain: A Review

"The important events in our lives are always the result of a sequence of tiny details."

🎩 Isn't that quote so true? That is what this story is truly about. Set in Paris in the 1986, a series of trivial incidents touched and changed the lives of at least four people.

🎩 Daniel Mercier is an ordinary accountant. One day he impulsively decides to dine alone at an elegant Parisian brassiere. A group of men sit next to his table, and to his astonishment, Daniel recognizes one of them being François Mitterand, the President!

🎩 The President put his black felt hat up on the rail. The dinner becomes the most memorable one for Daniel, not only because he sits next to the President's (he's dreaming to become the fourth person on that table!), but also because after the President and his entourage left, Daniel notices that the President has forgotten his hat. It's still there! Again, impulsively, Daniel takes it (after making sure nobody sees him, of course), wear it on his head, and leave.

Mitterand wearing his Homburg

🎩 The hat boosts Daniel's confidence; so much so, that on a meeting, he dares to contradict his manager, and comes up with a brilliant idea. This amuses the big boss, that Daniel is soon promoted. On the way to the new city he's promoted to, Daniel accidentally leaves his precious hat on the train. It is soon found by a girl called Fanny Marquant, who is on board the next train.

🎩 And so, the President's hat's "adventures" begins. Fanny is an aspiring writer in a toxic relationship with a married man who couldn't (wouldn't?) divorce his wife. The relationship has gone stale, but Fanny hadn't had courage to break it up. She wears the hat that night, and soon dumps him. Feeling that the hat had served its purpose for her, she leaves it on a park bench. An unkempt man takes it. And Fanny writes story about her experience with the hat to be included in a contest.

🎩 The hat then touches two other lives: that of Pierre Aslan (used to be the most genius perfume inventor people nicknamed "The Nose"), but had had a career break down for years. The other one is Bernard Lavallier, a right wing conservative who would soon change his views!

🎩 All the while, Daniel tries to locate the missing hat (he still can't say goodbye with it). And for me, this is the second best part of this book - the 1980s way of living; with no cellphones, no internet, no google). Daniel's entire effort to find the hat is through letters, newspaper add, and phone calls.

🎩 I also loved how Laurain included the 1980s pop culture in the story. The mention of popular perfumes of that era, TV series (David Hasselhoff in The Knight Rider); all these brought me back to that glorious era - my era! It's an unexpected sweet nostalgia for me. Laurain wrote it beautifully that I was transported to that era whenever I opened the book.

🎩 The President's Hat is a wonderfully crafted story of ordinary people whose lives are crushed by disappointments and chains of daily routines, that they can't find courage when they need it. It needs something trivial but extraordinary to break that chain, for them to see the clearer way to success. Every single one of them have in themselves the capability; it's a powerful "kick" that they lack of.

🎩 l love, love, love this book! It's funny, sweet, unputdownable, brilliant, inspiring story. And let me say this: the 1980s is the best era!

Rating: 5 / 5

2nd book for Paris in July 2023

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Blogger-Inspired Wishlist...with a Twist, Ep. 6,5

Blogger-Inspired Wishlist is a feature where I post recent additions to my wish list, which had been inspired by reviews from my fellow bloggers. Now, about the twist...

While browsing Twitter, I sometimes stumbled upon books that interest me. It could be from someone's tweeting about his/her latest book haul, or someone's retweet of book promotion from his/her favorite bookstore. Either way, if the title/cover and its Goodreads' summary attracts me, I'll put it into a list. No summaries, just the links, and several covers (at random).

The Unseen (Ingrid Barrøy #1) by Roy Jacobsen

Murder in the Mill-Race by E.C.R. Lorac
From @TheReadingHouse, retweeted by @BL_Publishing

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
From @ConMartin 

Four French Holidays by Anne Hall

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

The Paper Bark Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu

The Lost Ryū by Emi Watanabe Cohen

Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

Murder in Paris by Andrea Hicks

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

A Chelsea Concerto by Frances Faviell

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev Marsh (Captain Jim & Lady Diana Mysteries, 1)

Montgomery Bonbon: Murder at the Museum by Alasdair Beckett-King
From @pippopu 

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Temples of Delight by Barbara Trapido

Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis

Death of Mr. Dodsley by John Ferguson
From @Heaven_ali 

A Cat in the Window by Derek Tangye

The Corpse with Sticky Fingers by George Bagby (1952)
From @ClothesinBooks, retweeted by @SarahM_Matthews 

Have you spotted a favorite or two? Or have I inspired you to acquire one, two, or more to your TBR? 😏


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

A Walk in Paris: Montmartre District #ParisInJuly2023

No, I am not taking holiday to France at the moment. I’m writing this post for #ParisInJuly2023 on my office’s computer, having arrived at the office 30 minutes earlier. But what about the walk in Paris, then? Do you know that a virtual walk in Paris exists? I have found this YouTube channel last year: A Walk in Paris. It's basically videos where a Parisian takes a walk around certain area (different route every time) of Paris. What I love about this channel is that the guy just walks and never talks; it feels like taking a stroll with a friend, agreeing that we’ll leave the other alone along the way. It enables me to be transported to Paris (albeit virtually), soaking up the atmosphere, the buzz, the scenes, snippets of conversations in French (and English) every now and then, while curling up in my bed, inside my air-conditioned bedroom on a hot July afternoon!

Last weekend I was taking a stroll around Montmartre in 18th arrondissement. I loved this area - I remember walking up the hill alone on a beautiful morning, when I visited Paris 23 years ago. I was too early back then, the shops are still closed, but I could still feel the atmosphere, even today!

Our 1 hour 18 minutes walk is started from Moulin Rouge at Place Blanche. We took the Rue Lepic route to Place Anne Marie Carriere - I this picturesque place! Then we walked on Rue des Abesses, till we passed Êglise Saint Jean de Montmartre.

picture from:

Next we arrived at a small garden, where I found a blue wall full of murals. It's Le Mur des Je t'aime! (Wall of Love). Apparently it "was created in 2000 by artists Fédéric Baron and Claire Kito and is composed of 612 tiles of enamelled lava, on which the phrase 'I love you' is featured 311 times in 250 languages" (Wikipedia). I wonder whether there's an Indonesian version, and what it looks like! A street musician with quite a decent voice is performing near there. We stopped for a few minutes to watch - I pictured myself throwing some coins; the music did cheered me up!

picture from:

We got on through Rue la Vieuville, at the end of which we climbed a set of stairs, which brought us up - a bit panting - to Rue Drevet. After lingering for few minutes, we turned left to Rue Gabrielle. At the corner I saw a cafe with coffee-colored awning called Les Rendez-Vous des Amis - a proper name for a warm-looking cafe, non?

At the corner of Rue Ravignan we heard some noisy music, which came from a bar called Bar chez Camille. But along the narrow road, the voices faded to a silence, and I could even hear birds tweeting. Then I saw the first of the famous green Wallace Fountains I've ever seen! It really looks beautiful. If you're not familiar with these fountains, here's some interesting article for you. 

picture from:

Our next route is Rue de L'Abreuvoir. If you look up the roof top of the buildings, you'd see the top dome of Basilique du Sacré Coeur hovering in a distant! But don't stop for too long, because down the road you'll find a picturesque pink mansionette in the corner - aha! It must be the famous La Maison Rose, whose pictures I have seen so often on the internet, now I see it with my own eyes! - well, through a video, but still! I'm glad we spent quite a while here, admiring the gorgeous ancient building from every angle. Here's a little history of La Maison Rose.

picture from:

Not far from there, at Rue de Saules, another colorful scenery came suddenly onto my sight. We have arrived at the Galerie d'Art Céramique, where you can buy, or just sight-see, handmade ceramic items with bright colors. Some of these ceramics are hung on the outside wall, providing quite an attraction in itself. I promised myself that if one day I should come to Paris again, I'd stop by this place - and I bet I won't leave it empty handed!

picture from:

But we didn't buy anything this time :D. Continuing our walks, we passed another famous landmark: Le Consulat restaurant, which was, unfortunately, closed when we're passing there - not that we planned to eat anyway. Just around the corner, there's Place du Tertre. A small square, but crowded with cafes and tourists. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to admire the artists' paintings, as we must soon continue our walk along Rue du Chevalier de la Barre until we arrived at our last destination: Basilique du Sacré Coeur! Strangely, the nearer we were to the vicinity, the atmosphere began to change. There's a solemn hush that you usually feel around churches.

An artist painting - picture from:

A wave of nostalgia burst inside my heart, as I could see myself twenty-three years ago at the same place. There on those steps I had met a couple of middle-aged respectable tourists who took my pictures using my camera (how I worried that they would run away with it, but no... my instinct told me they are nice people). All those memories came back to me, and as our walk ended, I asked myself: Will I ever come back to Paris some day? I don't know. I wish to, but for now, let me just take a (virtual) walk in Paris.

picture from:

C’est tout pour le moment, mes chers amis! Next weekend I’ll take another walk in Paris, but not sure to which area, I’ll tell you more on my next update. Until then… à bientôt!


Monday, July 10, 2023

#MurderEveryMonday: Summer-Holiday Covers

I have often seen this weekly meme on Twitter, and have been longing to do it. I love crime fiction, and I am a cover-art lover too. It's been awhile since I did my last Judging Book by Its Cover, so this meme might be my consolation. I might do this regularly, at least once a month, and on this blog, instead of Twitter.

Murder Every Monday was created by Kate Jackson @ Cross Examining Crime and @ArmchairSleuth. Put simply, the plan is for readers to take a photo of a crime fiction book (novel or short story collection) which meets a given week’s theme criteria and to then share it online, using the hashtag #MurderEveryMonday.

This week's theme is:

Cover with a summer holiday theme
(Holiday Resort/Suitcase/Sunbathers/Beach/Holidaymakers on a promenade or other holiday destination or facility – Be creative!)

Here're my five picks (I might not use covers of my copy, since I've read mostly from e-book or audiobooks):

The first three are from books I've read by Agatha Christie. Christie loved travelling, so it's no wonder that she sent her detective/sleuth on vacation quite often.

The other two are books I haven't read before, but... don't you just love those beautiful covers from the British Library Crime Classics editions?!

Which cover(s) do you like most?

If you want to participate, here's the list of the weekly theme:


Friday, July 7, 2023

The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1907) by Gaston Leroux: A Review

💛 The Mystery of the Yellow Room is where we are first introduced to Gaston Leroux' genius detective, young (he's only 18 years old) Joseph Rouletabille. Like Leroux, Rouletabille is a journalist. But his great logical thinking will soon earn him a new reputation: a great detective. Just like all great fictional detectives, such as Holmes or Poirot, this story was narrated by Rouletabille's sidekick, a lawyer called Jean Sainclair.

💛 The titular yellow room is Mademoiselle Mathilde Stangerson's bedroom at the Chateau Glandier, where she was assisting her father, Professor Joseph Stangerson in his scientific works, that night. At midnight Mademoiselle resigned to her bedroom, locking the door that opens to the laboratory, where her father was still working, and their loyal old servant "Father" Jacques was sitting quietly.

💛 Then the strangest thing happened - it happened so suddenly that the two men were astonished. Loud voices came from inside the room: people struggling, furniture tumbling, Mademoiselle's yelling 'help!', and there's even gun shots. The two men frantically tried to open the window from outside (it's locked), then force-opened the locked door. When they were able to enter, what they found was too impossible. No one was in the room, except Mathilde, lying unconsciously on the floor, bloody hand marks on the wall. Who had attacked her? Why? But most importantly, how did he escape (the door opens to the laboratory is the only door to the bedroom, and there's no chimney)? Even the Police couldn't come to any suggestion.

💛 Joseph Rouletabille is intrigued by this strange incident, and together with Sainclair goes to Glandier to investigate. Mathilde's fiancé is there, and only by uttering a strange sentence to him, Rouletabille is permitted to enter the chateau - something that puzzles Sainclair, much as Poirot often puzzles Hastings with his cryptical remarks.

💛 Formal investigation is run by a top police detective Frederic Larsan from Surrete. He reminded me much of Poirot's nemesis, also from Surrete: Giraud. And like Poirot, Rouletabille also mocks him for not having a great logical thinking, though he works thoroughly on the ground finding clues. Although Rouletabille is definitely humbler than Poirot - he occasionally admires his rival's way - he is as confident as Poirot, that he will win the race.

💛 This is probably one of the first locked room mysteries ever written, and it provides quite a logical challenge for the reader, as much as the detectives. Besides the characters I mentioned above, there are also a grumpy innkeeper, his pretty wife, two concierges, and a flirtatious gamekeeper.

💛 After the first incident, there are two stranger incidents still - one of which is more serious attempt to take Mathilde's life, and there's one more murder. Larsan accused the fiancé, Robert Darzac, who had feeble alibi during those incidents, but Rouletabille disagrees. His explanation in the end causes great astonishment, and I couldn't guess it either!

💛 All in all, it is a satisfying mystery - a good portion of healthy exercise of one's grey cells, wrapped in a fast-paced thriller, with generous sprinkles of exciting actions.

Rating: 4 / 5


My 1st book for Paris in July 2023

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Shelf Control #3: Hello? Is Anybody There? by Jostein Gaarder

Shelf Control is a weekly feature created by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. Since early January 2023, Shelf Control has moved base to Literary Potpourri.

My pick this time is:

Hello? Is Anybody There? by Jostein Gaarder

Jostein Gaarder is a Norwegian novelist, short stories, and children books writer. His books mostly aim to educate children or young adult on philosophy. His most famous work is Sophie's World (also my favorite). I have read most of Gaarder's other books too: The Solitaire Mystery (another favorite), The World According to Anna, Through A Glass Darkly, Vita Brevis, The Orange Girl, Maya, The Ringmaster's Daughter, and his Christmas theme book: The Christmas Mystery.

Hello? Is Anybody There? is another philosophy-theme book for children. It's on my TBR in Google Playbook, though I don't remember buying it! 🙃

Summary from Goodreads:
"While waiting for the birth of his baby brother, Joe is visited by a strange child from another planet, and the two discover that they, and their planets, share many similarities as well as differences."

I think this will provide a fun reading; a cute yet a little thought provoking story, without highbrow lectures on philosophy.

Have you read this book? Or any of Gaarder's?