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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Sharlene has the Mr Linky this week.

Just one book for me this week but it is the book of the month (of the year?).  Turns out that obsessively monitoring the library’s “On Order” list and placing holds in January pays off because this ended up in my hands within days of publication:

Margaret Atwood takes us back to Gilead in The Testaments to answer the question “how did Gilead fall?” (Book Depository)

What did you pick up this week?

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I am alive!  And only mildly jet lagged (hence the existence – albeit delayed – of this post).  I ended up reading very little on my holiday (just one book – Every Secret Thing by Susanna Kearsley – and I only managed that since I read 75% of it on the plane flying over) so am eager to get back into the swing of things.  I had paused my library holds but they are now back in action and slowly starting to arrive.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Don’t Make Me Pull Over! by Richard Ratay – A very entertaining history of the American family road trip, enlivened with anecdotes from Ratay’s own childhood road trips. (Book Depository)

The Odyssey translated by Emily Wilson – I don’t think The Odyssey is a great book to borrow from the library – I, at least, have never found pleasure in sitting and reading it straight through – but I’m not quite ready to commitment to buying this translation.  I did enjoy it when I dipped in and out a while back and am looking forward to doing so again. (Book Depository)

The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem – Romcoms which feature arranged marriages – or, in this case, the heroine’s determination to arrange her own marriage rather than go down the traditional path her parents view as the solution – are like catnip to me and I can’t wait to read this. (Book Depository)

What did you pick up this week?

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

It’s all e-books for me this week as I’m off to Europe on Saturday for a quick visit to the Tyrol and then a few days in Munich.  I’m travelling with a friend for the first time so we’ll see what that is like!  I expect we’ll have lots to catch up on but it’s good to have plenty to read when we both want some quiet time.

Not a lot of variety to my reading this week but no harm in that!  I do have a hundred or so other books on my e-reader in case I’m in the mood for something else.

What did you pick up this week?

 

Despite growing up with plenty of exposure to all things French, I have never been a Francophile.  My holiday dreams have always looked further east, to central Europe, or north, to the UK.  But the one area of France that has always captured my imagination is Brittany.  Every Breton I’ve ever met has always enthused about its beauties and mentioned how much it rains.  Being a true Vancouverite, nothing could be more enticing to me than the promise of rain and people who share my love of it.  And then when I heard about the great GR34 trail that follows the Breton coastline, I was hooked.  It was time to go to France.  It turned out to be the perfect destination (especially since it was so easy to add Giverny to the itinerary as well).

For a relaxing approach, we chose two different towns to stay in, each for four nights.  We started in Perros-Guirec and it quickly became one of my favourite places I have ever been.  We had perfect weather (no Breton rain for me on this trip!) and absolutely perfect accommodation at the wonderful Villa Les Hydrangéas.

After a long travel day from Giverny (via Paris), we arrived in Perros-Guirec in the late afternoon to find the locals taking a dip in the surprisingly warm ocean.  For water lovers, this was an excellent first sign.  As we talked to people throughout our stay, we discovered that the water apparently stays quite warm year-round and many locals swim – or at least walk in up to mid-thigh or waist, doing companionable strolls through the sea with friends – each day.  Such a life!

We had no vigorous agenda for our stay – just lots of walking and relaxation.  The most popular walk is from Perros-Guirec to Ploumanac’h, one of the more famous spots on the Pink Granite Coast, so we did that on our first day, walking there along the coast and then back through a valley and then small villages.  The entire day was stunning.

The next day we took a taxi to Port Blanc and walked back to Perros-Guirec from there (about 16km).  Most guidebooks recommend a car for Brittany and I can see why – the public transit is pretty dire in some regions – but we got along quite well without one.  One of the most enjoyable things was chatting to our taxi driver (we had the same one take us to Port Blanc as had picked us up in Lannion and brought us to Perros-Guirec on our first day) and learning about his love of the region and what had brought him there.  My mother is fluent in French and, while I stumble embarrassingly when I try to speak, my comprehension is very good (thank you Canadian school system), which made France by far the easiest destination I’ve visited in a long time.  Not surprisingly, you get a lot more out of a destination when you can speak to the locals!

On our final day in Perros-Guirec we visited the town’s market and then went for a “little” 4 hour wander through neighbouring villages until we found ourselves again at Ploumanac’h, from where we walked back along the coastal path, retracing our steps from our first day.  Then we went for a dip in the ocean, just as warm as the locals had promised it would be!

And the food, as you would expect in France, was excellent.  We ate some delicious galettes and had a marvelous dinner in town, but mostly we enjoyed simple picnics with stunning views, both on our walks and for dinner.  Our hotel room had a terrace with a sea view where my mother and I would retreat with some wine and food in the evenings and congratulate ourselves on the excellent decision making that had brought us to Perros-Guirec.

All in all, it was a spectacular destination.  Not only was the scenery extraordinary and the walking wonderfully easy along well-maintained trails, but the entire region was pristine.  Everything was so clean – the water, the forests, the buildings – and the diversity of wildlife was fantastic.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard as much birdsong anywhere else I’ve visited.  Bretons are proud of the natural beauty of their region and work hard to keep it that way, as well they should.  As much as I love my mountain holidays, Perros-Guirec has me convinced that seaside escapes are just as restorative, especially out of peak season.  I’m still half-amazed my mother and I managed to tear ourselves away so I have no doubt I will be back one day.

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon – Just one book for me this week but it’s an excellent one.  I am loving this look at the power of reading aloud and learning all sorts of interesting things about child development along the way.  I’m off to visit my 20-month-old niece (and brand new nephew, born last Thursday) next week and am getting very excited about bringing lots of books to read aloud to her! (Book Depository)

What did you pick up this week?

It’s a lazy, rainy Sunday here – so welcome in the middle of hot summer – and it seems like the perfect time to sit down and share some photos of the lazy, rainy time I spent visiting Giverny back in May.

Monet’s gardens at Giverny are world-famous and well-loved, welcoming more than 500,000 visitors each year.  Within day-trip distance of Paris, the tiny village of Giverny explodes during the day as tourist arrive, filling the gardens and the village with garden-lovers from all over the world, only to contract again in the evening to a sleepy place where only two restaurants are open.

I started my trip this year in Giverny, going there directly after landing in Paris (where I connected with my mother who had started her trip a week earlier in the Czech Republic).  Staying at a cosy B&B within the village, I got to relax in its quiet bird-filled garden and stretch my legs after a long travel day by walking the path between Giverny and the nearby town of Vernon.  After airports and airplanes, it was such a relief to walk through fields and be surrounded by flowers, fresh air, and, delightfully, cows.  Then it was back to the B&B to laze in the garden until dinner and read Mad Enchantment, Ross King’s excellent history of Monet’s paintings of the water lilies.  I love being able to match my reading to my holiday destination and this was the perfect choice.  Reading about Giverny and Monet’s life there added so much to my experience of the village and the house and gardens.  Stopping to see the family grave in the small cemetery, all the names of his family members meant so much more to me because of what I learned about them in the book.

The next morning, with our pre-purchased tickets in hard, we showed up at the gardens right at opening time.  We strolled around the water garden (devoid of water lilies in mid-May), posed on the wisteria-laden Japanese bridge for the ubiquitous photos, and enjoyed the general calm of the gardens before too many others arrived.

We then made our way to the gardens surrounding the house, where row upon row of irises were in full bloom.  There was a light mist of rain that morning, which made the vivid blues and purples of the irises stand out more than they would have in full sun.  Iris are one of my favourite flowers so, for me, this was absolutely the perfect time to have visited the gardens.

After spending the bulk of the morning in the gardens, we visited Giverny’s small but well-curated Impressionist Museum, strolled about the village, and spent another lazy afternoon back in the B&B’s garden.  I absolutely loved staying in Giverny for two nights and not having to rush about like the many day trippers we saw visiting, who seemed too worried about catching their buses and making it to their next destination to enjoy the many small charms of the village.  It was such a pleasure to be able to see everything in a relaxed manner, especially after so many years of looking forward to visiting. And it set the laid-back tone for the rest of our time in France, when we left the following morning for the stunning Brittany coast.

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson – Jackson Brodie is back!  Everyone’s favourite private investigator was last seen in 2010’s Started Early, Took My Dog and while Atkinson has been busy writing solid stand alone novels since then (including the outstanding Life After Life), I’ve missed Brodie and am happy to be reunited with him.

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben MacIntyre – MacIntyre has a gift for finding amazing topics and turning out non-fiction written with the pacing of a thriller.  This tale of Cold War espionage promises to be another absorbing story and the reviews have been universally glowing.

Homeland by Walter Kempowski – Recently published for the first time in English (and well translated, according to reviewers), Kempowski considers German guilt in this novel about a Cold War-era road trip into Poland (formerly East Prussia).

What did you pick up this week?