Six degrees of separation: from truth to a notebook


Six degrees of separation:
from truth to a notebook

This month, we are supposed to start with the last book on our last chain, so for me, that was this awesome nonfiction on Conan Doyle – which is kind of neat, as I’m also participating in Nonfiction November.

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

See where it led me, on the other side of the pond!

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

   Conan Doyle for the Defense  Aleppo Codex

  99 ways to tell a story   Ninety-three  

  Black Coffee    the-black-notebook

1. Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer
VERDICT: A must read for all Sherlock Holmes’ fan. A well researched piece of literary critique.

2. The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession Faith and the International Pursuit of an Ancient Bible
Do you like a good mystery? Do you like “serious” books about things that actually happened? Do you have lots of commuting time? Well, these are three reasons you have to listen to this book!

3. 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style
 Raymond Queneau and his famous Exercices de Style (Exercises in Style) is a great representative of the Oulipo movement: he takes one short and simple event, and then retells that same thing in 99 different styles.
Matt Madden does a fantastic job by doing the exact same thing, but this time all in different variations with graphics and comics. Loved it! 

4. [ok, I kind of cheated, I went from ninety-9 to ninety-3)
Most people read Les Misérables (at best), but have you also red Ninety-Three?
The last of Victor Hugo’s novels, it is regarded by many including as his greatest work. I recently revisited it to study with one of my students. Really good!

5. Black Coffee: A Mystery Play in Three Acts (Hercule Poirot #7)

I actually just finished reading this one!
As you may know, I’m into a project of listening to all of Hercule Poirot’s stories and novels, for The Classics Club. I hit an obstacle when I got to #7:  it is listed as a play, and I could see it was indeed played during Agatha Christie’s lifetime, but I could find no audio recording, nor even any play on videos. I would end up each time on a novel adaptation of this play, by another author! Even though this adaptation is famous, I still wanted to read the original play. As usual, my public library managed to find the precious book!
I wonder why no one seems to play this any more, it was a lot of fun. It was neat to see Hercule Poirot in a play setting. The mystery was very satisfying, with obviously lots of red herrings and a good amount of potential guilty parties.
“The story concerns a physicist named Sir Claude Amory who has come up with a formula for an atom bomb (Black Coffee was written in 1934!). In the first act, Sir Claude is poisoned (in his coffee, naturally) and Hercule Poirot is called in to solve the case. He does so after many wonderful twists and turns in true Christie tradition.”


6. The Black Notebook

VERDICT: Great typical book by Modiano. The excellent translation lets you plunge in Modiano’s hazy labyrinth between past and present.


Visit other chains here




2020: July wrap-up


Exceptionally, like many of you I suspect, no vacation this year. Apart from a short semi staycation week with just a quarter of my regular tutoring hours, so that I could clean the house… and so listen to more audiobooks, as I never do the one without the other!
I usually don’t read much if I go on vacation somewhere. So having no distraction at home, the reading schedule has remained steady.
So much so that I have already read 21/20 books of Summer. I’ll probably reach 32 or more by the end of August.

📚 So here are the titles I read in July:

12 books:
7 in print 
with 2,122 pages, a daily average of 68 pages/day
5 in audio
= 23H43
, a daily average of 45 minutes

5 in mystery:

  1. The Murder on the Links, #2 by Agatha Christie – audio, for The Classics Club
  2. No Woods so Dark as These, by Randall Silvis – ebook, for review for Criminal Element. Review live on 8/3
  3. Poirot Investigates #3 by Agatha Christie – audio, for The Classics Club
  4. Celle qui pleurait sous l’eau, by Niko Tackian – ebook, readalong with a French student
  5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd #4 by Agatha Christie – audio, for The Classics Club

4 in nonfiction:

  1. The First Book of Samuel – audio, for The Classics Club
  2. I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf, by Grant Snider
  3. The Second Book of Samuel – audio, for The Classics Club
  4. Marie Antoinette’s World, by Will Bashor- ebook for review for France Book Tours Review live on 8/14

2 in literary fiction:

  1. A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami – ebook, readalong with the Online Murakami Book Club (meeting on Discord)
  2. Complètement cramé, by Gilles Legardinier- ebook, readalong with the French Book Club (meeting on Discord)

1 in children book:

  1. The One and Only Bob, by Katherine Applegate


Lots of great books, but I’ll go with the less heavy ones, to fit a Summer mood.

I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf  The One and Only Bob  


Classics Club: 38/50 (from October 2019-until September 2024)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 9 books read

Total of books read in 2020 = 72/110
Number of books added to my TBR this past month= 33


  Migrations Inhabitation And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon


The open giveaways are on my homepage

And we have 2 books available for reviews on France Book Tours
One is a historical novel with a famous musician in Paris.
The other is a horror novel based on a super famous French classic!



click on the cover to access my review
Which shows that negative reviews can bring you lots of readers!!


Top Ten Book Titles with Numbers in Them


Feed Your Fiction Addiction
please go visit


Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog
Karen at The Simply Blog
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Deb at Readerbuzz

please go and visit them,
they have great book blogs


2,200 posts
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Come back on Monday, August 3
to see the books I plan to read in August

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How was YOUR month of July?


Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction
has created a Month In Review meme
where you can link your monthly recap posts
Thanks Nicole!


Sunday Post #31 – 6/7/2020

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

Hmm, it’s been a while since my last Sunday Post, things are so busy. Many people keep talking about how much more time they have thanks to the quarantine, but I have experienced just the opposite. So the first things to go is blogging time.

But I have been doing a lot of reading recently, including catching up with review requests from 2019!


  Un crime en Hollande   Berezina


📚 Un crime en Hollande, by Georges Simenon
Published in 1931. Counts for The Classics Club
This is book 8 in the Maigret series, that I have been reading along with one of my French students.
His books are getting more and more atmospheric. This one, as most so far, takes place near the water (sea and canals).
Maigret is called to investigate the death of Professor Popinga in Holland, as he died the day after a visiting French professor gave a conference there. The French teacher is the culprit. So what happened to Popinga, and why?
There were great details about the ambiance in the port town of Delfzijl, way up north, with the local lazy workers, spending most of their time gossiping around the harbor and spitting away, and different other groups in the city, their obvious or hidden relationships,  their behaviors influenced by their religious stance, and the façade they keep towards each other. An asphyxiating milieu for younger people… The pettiness of it made me think about Jacques Brel’s song Les bourgeois…
Simenon’s details makes you feel and smell the places he talks about. There are also real time pieces, like people listening to these very old radio transistors. As for local details, I learned about the common juniper drink in Holland, basically the origin of our current gin.
It seems Maigret understands quite quickly what’s going on, but it takes him time to be able to unveil concrete proofs of it. In this one, I actually felt that the dénouement scene was dragging on a bit too long. And maybe it’s because I had actually identified the culprit and even the motive (for once!) behind what was done!

📚 Berezina, by Sylvain Tesson
Published in 2015. Audiobook
Tesson and a few friends decided to drive on sidecars from Moscow to Paris, to retrace Napoleon’s route after his debacle.
As usual in all the Tesson’s books I have read or listened to, the narrative is absolutely stunning, here full of details about the environment and the Russian culture that Sylvain appreciates so much.
It is obviously also packed with historical details, thanks to books and memoirs the team reads by night. The descriptions of this episode I read in French textbooks a few decades ago are miles away from the horrific reality. Some passages here sounded worthy of a horror novel, alas that was reality, as described in journals of soldiers who experienced the whole thing.
I like how Tesson tries to capture Napoleon’s character, and how Russians and French see him.
If you love reading books about Napoleon, you absolutely need to read this one – it is available in English, with the same title.
If you understand French, I obviously recommend it in the original, or even in its audio form: Franck Demesdt is an excellent narrator that made me feel I was part of this unusual expedition.

📚 Inhabitation, by Teru Miyamoto
Published in 2019. Review upcoming.
A new to me author, and I definitely want to read more by him, even if I found it a bit dragging after a while.


  Or What You Will And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon


📚 Or What You Will, by Jo Walton
Expected publication: July 7th 2020 by Tor Books
Received for review

Just starting. I’m curious about this novel about books, and wondering how it’s a fantasy, a genre a bit outside my comfort zone, with a few exceptions.

He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god.
But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. He has played a part in most of those novels, and in the recesses of her mind, Sylvia has conversed with him for years.
But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.
Now Sylvia is starting a new novel, a fantasy for adult readers, set in Thalia, the Florence-resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before. Of course he’s got a part in it. But he also has a notion. He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether. All he has to do is convince her.”

📚 And the Earth Will Sit on the Moon: Essential Storiesby Nikolai Gogol
Published December 5th 2019 by Pushkin Press.
Received for review through Edelweiss.

I usually don’t like too much the short story genre, but I’m curious to read more from this Russian master. I read Dead Souls years ago, but can’t remember anything about it.
This new collection contains five of the most famous ones.
I like how the editor connects their themes to the author’s life.

📚 And in audiobook, Migrations, by  Charlotte McConaghy
Expected publication: August 4th 2020 by Flatiron Books.
Receive through

Loving it!

Franny Stone has always been a wanderer. By following the ocean’s tides and the birds that soar above, she can forget the losses that have haunted her life. But when the wild she so loves begins to disappear, Franny can no longer wander without a destination. She arrives in remote Greenland with one purpose: to find the world’s last flock of Arctic terns and follow them on their final migration. She convinces Ennis Malone, captain of the Saghani, to take her onboard, winning over his salty, eccentric crew with promises that the birds she is tracking will lead them to fish.
As the Saghani fights its way south, Franny’s new shipmates begin to realize that the beguiling scientist in their midst is not who she seems. Battered by night terrors, accumulating a pile of letters to her husband, and dead set on following the terns at any cost, Franny is full of dark secrets. When the story of her past begins to unspool, Ennis and his crew must ask themselves what Franny is really running toward—and running from.
Propelled by a narrator as fierce and fragile as the terns she is following, Migrations is a shatteringly beautiful ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened. But at its heart, it is about the lengths we will go, to the very edges of the world, for the people we love.


A Wild Sheep Chase

📚 A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami
Published in 1982.

This is the next book the Online Murakami Bookclub (on Discord) will be talking about, so I’ll start reading the first chapters around June 14.

His life was like a recurring nightmare: a train to nowhere. But an ordinary life has a way of taking an extraordinary turn. Add a girl whose ears are so exquisite that, when uncovered, they improve sex a thousand-fold, a runaway friend, a right-wing politico, an ovine-obsessed professor and a manic-depressive in a sheep outfit, implicate them in a hunt for a sheep, that may or may not be running the world, and the upshot is another singular masterpiece from Japan’s finest novelist.”


  White Rage Marie Antoinette's World

📚 White Rage, by Carol Anderson
Published in 2016

I was looking for a serious, scholarly book on the issue, and looks like this one is excellent:

“From the Civil War to our combustible present, acclaimed historian Carol Anderson reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America.
As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, “white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames,” she writes, “everyone had ignored the kindling.”
Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House.
Carefully linking these and other historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America..

📚 Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles, by Will Bashor
Release date: June 15, 2020
at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

I have already read two excellent books by the author on Marie Antoinette. He’s really excellent.

Now the good news is I’m organizing a virtual book tour for it, and I still have a few free copies for you! Click on the cover to reserve your spot!
The author writes really well, not dry at all!

“This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye.
When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper’s nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantasy-driven, and notorious antics were inevitable given her family history and the alluring influences that surrounded her. Marie Antoinette’s frivolous and flamboyant lifestyle prompted a torrent of scathing pamphlets, and Bashor scrutinizes the queen’s world to discover what was false, what was possible, and what, although shocking, was most probably true.
Readers will be fascinated by this glimpse behind the decorative screens to learn the secret language of the queen’s fan and explore the dark passageways and staircases of endless intrigue at Versailles.”


Strength Training Over 40

📚 Strength Training Over 40: A 6-Week Program to Build Muscle and Agility, by Alana Collins
Expected publication: June 16, by Rockridge Press
received for review through Callisto Publisher’s Club

“Start the next stage of your life strong with a comprehensive 6-week strength training program that guides you through building and maintaining total-body strength, so you can keep doing the things you love to do for years to come. You’ll find illustrated exercises and stretches, complete with step-by-step instructions and weekly home and gym workout routines that put all the moves together.


📚 I listened for about 30 minutes to Berezina. I really enjoy Sylvain Tesson art of description. As often, there’s a lot of vodka flowing, but I guess you can forgive him when his books are so fascinating! This is a real page of history, as Tesson and a few friends are driving on sidecar from Moscow to Paris, to retrace Napoleon’s route after his debacle. Amazing details!
📚 Reading Inhabitation. I wonder how this is going to evolve between the two main characters, not to mention the lizard! A new Japanese author to me, I’ll definitely will want to read more.

📚 Almost done with Un crime en Hollande, #8 by Georges Simenon, that I read along with one of my French students
The series is getting so atmospheric! I think I have identified the killer, but at 91%, we still don’t know for sure. Maigret makes the dénouement scene drag on and on, delightful and painful at the same time!

📚 Today I finished Un crime en Hollande and my audiobook Berezina. See the review to both at the beginning of this post.
📚 So I began Migrations. I had to double check if it was really a novel! It sounds so real and on the hot theme of what we have been doing to our planet.
📚 Inhabitation is a bit less fun now. There’s so much packed in this book, and the long discussion on Lamentations of Divergences, a late 13th century short Buddhist text, got boring.

📚 I’m really going to love Migrations, with Franny’s wild project, to follow the migration path of possibly the last arctic terns.

📚 I finished Inhabitation. The ending is perfect! I need to try another book by this author. Any suggestion?
📚 Migrations is getting more complex. I love all the back and forth between Franny’s current project and her past. It’s getting more and more mysterious.

📚 I did tons of gardening today, major weeding, and separating and replanting about 60 leeks, so I got to listen a lot to Migrations and I am half done already.
Now we have different periods of Franny’s past, and more and more dark elements surfacing. I have read the ending is heart wrenching, so I’m starting to prepare. The writing is excellent and the narrator has it perfect!
I wonder f we even know what year that trip is actually taking place.


📚 Book of the month giveaway: your choice between two books


  • Reviews of books received from Callisto Publisher’s Club
  • A few late reviews
  • More Orthodox book notes

As I’m catching up on things, I didn’t participate in the Classics Spin. BUT I’ll be talking about 20 Books of Summer 2020