Fiction Review: Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noel Balen’s “Treachery in Bordeaux” – Translated by Anne Trager

“Great writing is like a great wine. It finds those deserving of it.” – page 94

My favorite line from this book is also its last, for it holds the whole truth of the work.

Mr. Alaux and Mr. Balen’s style of writing remind me of Charles Dickens in his work “David Copperfield”. Layers upon layers upon LAYERS in the scope of description. This book is total immersion at its best – all the senses are stimulated, even through just the written word. The depth of understanding, and the care the authors put into taking their reader deep into their passion for wine, writing, and French life was a gem to behold. You can tell these gentleman wrote a story for themselves, that they would enjoy, and therefore, it became something everyone else would as well, because so much enthusiasm went into it.

Le French Book and Anne Trager did an amazing job in the translation, and the e-book version had the same integrity as the print, which was refreshing. I love their company’s motto: “If we love it, we translate it.” The written word is safe with champions such as these!

The story-telling style caught me off-guard at first. I found it unusual to have scenes of rushing building action, and then the next chapter would be two of the characters enjoying a drink over dinner and discussing the resolution of the previous conflict. Then I took a step back and realized what truly made this such a prize to read – the full truth of “culture”. I am getting to read a French book, written by French authors, who originally wrote for a French audience. I get to step off my current island of what I know and am familiar with, and delve deeper into the seas of the written word. That was worth the read in and of itself, and then you have this great tale on top of it!

Only 100 pages long, but that number is deceptive. At 40 pages in, we are still traipsing across the hills with Benjamin and his dog Bacchus, learning where we are, and who we are walking with. And yet, 60 pages later we have come to the resolution of the mystery in perfect form, with no detail left out, and many more added along the way. I am totally hooked. I can’t wait to read the next 19 translations – as they come – and recommend this to all my fellow readers who want a chance to truly see the world through someone else’s pen.

 I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley


Non-Fiction Review: Rivka Caroline’s “From Frazzled to Focused”

I would love to meet Rivka in person, and give her a hearty hug. This book is great!

I have read many “get organized” books before. I’ve run the gamut from humorous to clinical approaches, and though each one said it couldn’t be done, I may have put one or two under my pillow just trying to get it to soak in.

While all of those books were great, and I would be totally onboard my “new and improved” life for a week, inevitably, I would fall off that well-oiled and tidy wagon. Their approach just didn’t have the sustainability factor that matched up with how my life runs. Create the perfect routine and execute the same perfect checklist everyday? I’m not wired that way. If I think about everything at once, and try to get it all done to standard, I get overwhelmed, and nothing gets accomplished. While I have loved what these other organizational books have had to say, applaud the authors for sharing their wisdom, and know many have been helped by it;  I finally realized my problem: the author has found the system that works for them specifically, and I wasn’t them.

Rivka doesn’t reinvent WHAT needs to be done, but her approach on HOW to get there was different from all the others I’ve read. A systemized approach that could be tailored to YOU. Everywhere I look in society today, I see this approach being implemented, so you know there’s something to be said for it.

I can’t say enough good about this book. Rivka breaks down each area of your life and asks you what your vision is for it. That was the first thing that caught my attention. Everyone’s priorities in their home are different, so being able to tailor my life, to say “this is MY goal, not what I think I should be doing because of others” was a huge liberation. Step by step, chapter by chapter, I went through my life and envisioned what I have always wanted “some day”. Next she talked about ways to set systems in place to make that goal a reality. How are you wired? Will a fun sticky-note on the bathroom mirror brighten your morning and help you remember tasks? Will a meal-plan magnetized to your fridge streamline your days? What things do you normally do that could be accentuated to help you throughout your day?

I am a list-maker. I will put things on my list just to cross them off. So to set up my week by a list of daily goals was something that clicked for me.

Then, the key component: keeping your system going. How does one not fall off that shiny wagon of productivity? Life happens, yes, but life is ALWAYS going to happen. Rivka acknowledges this many times, as this book is primarily geared toward moms – the tag-line is “The Ultimate Guide for Moms Who Want to Reclaim Their Time, Their Sanity and Their Lives”.

What will help you maintain your goal and your progress? How will you remember when you have so many other things wanting your attention, and how do you keep this tool from getting old, dry, and more of hindrance than helpful? Rivka stresses the importance of planners, calendars, and schedules. Looking at how your life normally runs, and then working in times to focus on specific tasks seems like an obvious step, but as moms, when life gets steam-rolling along, you need that extra hand.

I found that setting up my weekly calendar in my phone, with an alert that let me know what was coming up next helped me to not only keep track of the time, but also to lower my stress about getting things done. Now that I have my week planned out, I know everything will get done in the time set-aside for it, and I won’t forget and be stressed with that nagging feeling because I have a gentle reminder set up. And as life changes, the system is easy to update and tweak, no matter how you are wired.

You know how I know it’s working? I’ve made it to week TWO!

Seriously though, thank you Rivka Caroline, and I hope this book helps others! It  just hit the shelves, and I definitely recommend picking up a copy!

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.