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Review:: Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott

Title: Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris
Author: Jennifer L. Scott
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Publication Date: November 6, 2012
ISBN: 9781451699371
Number of Pages: 283
How I Got It: library 
Format: hardcover
Goodreads Description:
When Jennifer Scott arrived at the doorstep of a grand Sixteenth Arrondissement apartment in Paris as a foreign exchange student, she was greeted by the woman who would become her mentor and the inspiration for the way she lived long after her time abroad was over. Madame Chic took the casual California teenager under her wing, revealing the secrets of how the French elevate the little things in life to the art of living.Each chapter of Lessons from Madame Chic reveals a valuable secret Jennifer learned while under Madame Chic's tutelage: tips you can incorporate into your own life, no matter where you live or the size of your budget. Embracing the classically French aesthetic of quality over quantity, aspiring Parisiennes will learn to master the art of eating (deprive yourself not), dressing (the ten-item wardrobe), grooming (le no-makeup look), and living à la française. From entertaining with easy flair and formality to cultivating allure while living an active, modern life, Lessons from Madame Chic is the essential handbook for anyone wanting to incorporate that Parisian je ne sais quoi into her daily life.

My Review:
I love a book about Paris! Author Jennifer L. Scott gives lots of advice presented in easily digestible mini chapters and lists. There was plenty of information that has been presented before in books such as Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong and French Women Don't Get Fat. While this book was released several years ago, I think it would be a great accompaniment to the recent Marie Kondo books. Embracing a life of quality over quantity and dismissing the need for constant consumerism may be a new trend to those following the "Spark Joy" movement, but it has been a staple of the French lifestyle for for quite some time. I found a few of the chapters overly simplistic and unnecessary (the makeup descriptions) but did love the idea of the capsule wardrobe. How fascinating to only have 10 items of clothing! I've done a major purge of my wardrobe and am still not anywhere close to that, but I'm still working on it. This is a great little book that would be enjoyed by francophiles and people looking to find simple pleasures in their day.

Review:: A Perfumer's Secret by Adria J. Cimino

Title: The Perfumer's Secret
Author: Adria J. Cimino
Publisher: Velvet Morning Press
Publication Date: May 16, 2016
ISBN: 9780692534649
Number of Pages: 258
How I Got It: direct from author
Format: Kindle

Goodreads Description:
The quest for a stolen perfume formula awakens passion, rivalry and family secrets in the fragrant flower fields of the South of France...Perfumer Zoe Flore travels to Grasse, perfume capital of the world, to collect a formula: her inheritance from the family she never knew existed. The scent matches the one worn by her mother, who passed away when Zoe was a teenager. Zoe, competing to create a new fragrance for a prestigious designer, believes this scent could win the contract—and lead her to the reason her mother fled Grasse for New York City.
Before Zoe can discover the truth, the formula is stolen. And she’s not the only one looking for it. So is Loulou, her rebellious teenage cousin; Philippe, her alluring competitor for the fragrance contract; and a third person who never wanted the formula to slip into the public in the first place.
The pursuit transforms into a journey of self-discovery as each struggles to understand the complexities of love, the force of pride and the meaning of family.

My Review:
Growing up, Zoe Flore was trained as an informal "nose" by her mother. Now as an adult she is summoned to the perfume capital of the world, Grasse in the South of France, to the reading of her aunt's will. She doesn't hesitate to visit Grasse since she is in competition with her (ex?) boyfriend and colleague (and the rest of the world) to produce the newest scent for Cherone. At the reading of the will, Zoe receives a special perfume formula, only to lose it when her hotel room is ransacked. While Zoe was the main character, I especially loved emotionally charged, 15 year old LouLou. Just as the perfect perfume is the combination of a variety of notes in just the right combination, Adria Cimino produced a perfect combination of a novel. I found this read to have just the right amount of family drama, intrigue, competition, romance, and what a fascinating topic! I was smelling all of my perfumes and trying to analyze them as I read this novel. (I discovered I do not like rose and am drawn to more spicy or earthy scents.) I would recommend this to anyone who loves perfumes and beauty products but also foodies. I believe they would appreciate the layering and combinations involved in the perfume making process.

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Foodie Friday:: Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson

Title: Only in Naples
Author: Katherine Wilson
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
ISBN: 9780812998160
Number of Pages: 304
How I Got It: Netgalley
Format: Kindle
Goodreads Description:

In the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher and Peter Mayle, this enchantingly warm and witty memoir follows American-born Katherine Wilson on her adventures abroad, where a three-month rite of passage in Naples turns into a permanent embrace of this boisterous city on the Mediterranean. It is all thanks to a surprising romance, a new passion for food, and a spirited woman who will become her mother-in-law—and teach her to laugh, to seize joy, and to love

My Review:
I'm a sucker for any international travel or internship novels. Add a foodie theme to it and I'm hooked. Plus, this book was written in perfect bite-sized pieces so I could pick it up and put it down easily...because, you know, life. I always find it interesting to read about the minutiae of daily life. Katherine Wilson tells readers all about what foods her future mother-in-law serves as well as insight into Italian dating, plumbing, fashion, and socializing. Like every foodie book, I of course got hungry while I was reading it and luckily there is a collection of recipes at the end, including one for ragù that I am looking forward to trying. 
***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Review:: Not Working: A Novel by Lisa Owens

Title: Not Working
Author: Lisa Owens
Publisher: The Dial Press
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
ISBN: 9780812988819
Number of Pages: 256
How I Got It: Netgalley
Format: Kindle
Goodreads Description:
In the tradition of Jennifer Close’s Girls in White Dresses comes a “a pin-sharp, utterly addictive debut” (Vogue U.K.) told in vignettes that speak to a new generation not trying to have it all but hoping to make sense of it all.
Claire Flannery has just quit her office job, hoping to take some time to discover her real passion. The problem is, she’s not exactly sure how to go about finding it. Without the distractions of a regular routine, Claire confronts the best and worst parts of herself: the generous, attentive part that visits her grandmother for tea and cooks special meals for her boyfriend, Luke, and the part that she feels will never measure up and makes regrettable comments after too many glasses of wine. What emerges is a candid, moving portrait of a clear-eyed heroine trying to forge her own way, a wholly relatable character whose imperfections and uncanny observations highlight what makes us all different and yet inescapably linked.
My Review:
I really liked the format of this novel. Claire gives little snippets of her day that can range from a short sentence to a long tirade. I would describe this novel as the opposite of a stereotypical male mid-life crisis. Rather than going crazy and taking big risks, Claire is trying to decide what she wants to do as a career. She is so afraid of making the wrong decision that she just refuses to make any decision at all. She's a bit of a mess and her long-term boyfriend is pretty much a saint for dealing with her laziness. While I thought some of her insight were funny, and she was relatable in that she did have plenty of imperfections, but I wanted to yell at her to stop wallowing and pull it together. Without giving any spoilers, I also didn't like the ending. I know this book is getting a lot of praise but I didn't find it memorable. 
***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

What I'm Reading This Month: May TBR

I'm reading a few new releases and a few selections from my backlist this May. What are you reading this month?

Not Working by Lisa Owens
Restless Ambition: Grace Hartigan, Painter by Cathy Curtis
Champagne Baby by Laure Dugas
Champagne, Uncorked by Rosemary Zraly
The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Kilpatrick
Blended: Writers on the Step-family Experience
Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye
The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi
House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck