30 September 2016

Cooking for Picasso - A Book Review & Giveaway #amreading





Recently I finished a charming book called, Cooking for Picasso and I can't wait to tell you about it! I happened to pick up this next book following the heels of a vivid thriller. So the transition for me to this book, which reads at a totally different pace, made my initial experience of the first couple of chapters a bit rough. But you know what? I was very nicely surprised about how this book turned out.

First, here's what the book is about -

A novel inspired by a true incident: In the spring of 1936, Pablo Picasso, unable to paint because of his turbulent love life, secretly left Paris and rented a villa on the French Riviera. No one is certain what happened to him, but suddenly, Picasso picked up his brush and created a series of remarkable paintings, including two pictures of an unidentified young woman. From this intriguing episode, author Camille Aubray creates a fictional story about Ondine, a young chef working in a local café, whose life is transformed by the artist's visit to her seaside village of Juan-les-Pins. Running parallel to the tale of Picasso and Ondine is the contemporary story of Ondine's American grand-daughter, Céline, who ventures to the South of France on a quest to uncover family secrets about what really happened when her grandmother crossed paths with Pablo Picasso. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, Céline discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine and love that enable her to embrace her own future. Like Hemingway in The Paris Wife, Picasso is one of a handful of early 20th century figures who still has real star-power. COOKING FOR PICASSO explores the great artist and his work in a human, intelligent and highly engaging new light.


I finished reading it over one of the last hot weekends of this summer/fall season. First you meet Camille, who shows up (in the present) on this elaborate boat for a very elusive reason that you will later figure out. You jump right into the 1930s where you now are introduced to Ondine who works at the restaurant owned by her parents. She's instructed to deliver meals to a patron who lives nearby. And then she realizes who the patron is - the famous, Picasso. But how does the modern tale of Camille enter into it? Well, there is a portrait of Camille's grandmother Ondine, painted by Picasso, which she's not even sure exists. And so the journey begins to find out if the portrait exists, and if it does, what happened to it?

Like I said, it took me a little bit to get involved in the story, the first couple of chapters were just a bit slow for me, but once I delved into the heart of the story, I loved it. The mix between the two generations - the 1930s and the present - went seamlessly for me. I loved the contrasting world and the battle to discover a painting that may or may not even exist. The portrayal of Picasso is interesting and although I really don't know too much about the painter's life, this really provides intriguing insight into who he was as a person. 

I think if you love historical fiction, this is the perfect book for you. It's a mix of mystery and romance. It's a light-hearted read with a lot to give and I was so happy to have read this. This will be a book I plan on re-reading, actually.

I am so happy to announce that I get to giveaway a copy of this book to one lucky reader! Enter a comment letting me know if this books interests you and what you like about it. Ends 10/15. US Only.

If you can't wait to read this, make sure you visit Amazon and purchase your copy today!

**UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for entering! The winner is Teresa Young. Thanks for entering everybody!

I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. Affiliate links are included in the above posts for which I will receive small compensation if you purchase through my link. 

13 September 2016

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - A SciFi Thriller I Won't Long Forget


I had the chance to receive a copy of the book Dark Matter by Black Crouch in exchange for an honest review.  And I was reluctant at first, I mean I hate to judge a book by the cover, but there was something jarring about the bold red and the dark text. So it sat on a shelf for a while until a exhausted my stack of "to be read" from the library. It was the long Labor Day weekend, and knowing that this book was there, I started reading it.

Now, you are first introduced to Jason who has a normal evening with his wife and son, Charlie. Until his wife convinces him to go see an old friend who is celebrating his recently received prestigious award at a local, nearby bar. Jason goes to say hello and congratulate his friend, but he doesn't stay long at the bar. He leaves with the slight twinge of resentment and maybe even regret over his own choices with his life and career. Walking the long way home though, brings him back to center a little bit, until he senses the presence of someone. When the masked gunman prods him to get into Jason's own car, telling him to drive, his life isn't the same after that. 

This is just the beginning in this intense thriller. Just as the description says, before Jason blacks out, someone asks him, "Are you happy?" The answer to that question is the core of the story.

I read a review that said that you can't describe this book without giving things away. And I kind of agree. So I won't launch into a more descriptive review here, but I will summarize how I felt by saying this is a very unique and amazing thriller that I was very impressed by. I read it (nearly) one day, except I savored the ending over the course of two days because I hated seeing this come to an end. This book made me think about all the decisions I've made in my own life that brought me to where I am and makes me wonder that very question myself, "Am I happy? What would I change if I could?" It's science fiction but the science doesn't distract or confuse me. The characters are strong and the core plot of the story kept me enthralled to the end. The bizarre situations this main character finds himself in are very vivid and real feeling, despite the weirdness. Plenty of people seemed to criticize the writing and I didn't have any issues with it. I felt like the short sentences helped build upon the pressure and intensity of the moments and actions in the story.

I am highly recommending you check this book out. Purchase this book now on Amazon.com. Or get this from the library! Overall, you will be glad you read this.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This post includes an affiliate link for which I will receive small compensation if you purchase through my link.
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