2013: October wrap-up

Finally a day free of reviews or interviews, so this wrap-up can have your full attention!

October was quite a month on the reading and blogging fronts, as you may have noticed if you follow me.

Here is what happened…

My October reading totaled 10 books, with 2269 pages, that is,  73.1 pages/day.
Among those 10 were 3 audiobooks, [thanks to a lot of painting for an exhibit]: 40:35 hours as a whole, that is, an average of 1:18 hour/day.

I’m working hard on my reviews, and my blog as a whole, thanks to a new work schedule.

I read:

1 fiction:

  1. Paris Was The Place, by Susan Conley

3 historical fiction:

  1. Mozart’s Last Aria, by Matt Rees –upcoming review on Sunday
  2. Unravelled, by M.K. Tod
  3. Gracianna, by Trini Amador

1 non-fiction:

  1. Grape Expectations, by Caro Feely – ebook

5 mysteries:

  1. The Mona Lisa Speaks, by Christopher Angel – ebook
  2. The Cleaner of Chartres, by Salley Vickers – audiobook
  3. The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman – audiobook
  4. Mrs Pollifax on Safari, by Dorothy Gilman – audiobook
  5. The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith

My favorites this month:

  Unravelled The Mona Lisa Speaks

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Reading Challenges recap

Around the World in 12 books:  10/12
Audiobook: 13/12 – – COMPLETED
Books on France: 31/12 – COMPLETED
Cozy Mysteries: 7/10
Ebook challenge: 24/10 – COMPLETED
European reading challenge: 12/5 – COMPLETED
Historical fiction: 30/15 – COMPLETED
Japanese literature: 1/1 – COMPLETED
New authors challenge: 59/25 – COMPLETED
TBR challenge: 7/12
What’s in a Name: 6/6 – COMPLETED
Where Are You Reading?: 9/50
Australian Literature: 1/1 – COMPLETED

Total of books read so far in 2013 = 85

Number of books added to my TBR in October = 41

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Blog recap

  1. 5 of the 10 books mentioned here were received for review by the publisher/author
  2. 33 readers signed up for my Books on France Challenge, and 107 reviews have already been posted. Don’t forget to post your reviews, and it is almost time to post your recap, with a giveaway coming!
  3. Every month, France Book Tours has a giveaway for the book(s) of the month. Have you checked yet the November giveaway? There are 3 books to win!
  4. France Book Tours already completed 16 book tours, and there are 8 already scheduled! If you are interested in reviewing books on your blog for France Book Tours, just fill in this short questionnaire. 65 book bloggers have already done so! You can find all kinds of genre: historical fiction, romance, mystery, LGBT, nonfiction, etc.
  5. Speaking of France Book Tour, I introduced a new feature on it for authors, called The French Hop.
  6. October marked a big change in my job schedule, which allows me to organize better my time. That’s why you have started finding me more regularly posting for Mailbox Monday, Teaser Tuesday, First Chapter First Paragraph (on France Book Tours), WWW Wednesday, I Love France, and Friday Finds.
  7. Apart from several other giveaways, I organized one for the Historical Fiction Giveaway Hop
  8. I was thrilled to be interviewed by Bloggers International, by Booker Talk on French literature, and by another book blogger: Wildmoo Books
  9. I was able to take part in a Bloggiesta twitter party, which is always fun!
  10. And did you notice? I’m trying to structure a bit more my reviews, talking about context, plot, characters, style, and include an excerpt and/or a trailer when available.
  11. And Words And Peace passed the 50,000 hits mark!  We are close to 2,000 followers. Thanks to all of you!

Most popular recent book review

Madonnas of Leningradclick on the cover to access my review

Most popular recent post – non book review

Friday Finds (Nov. 1)

Plans for November

  • I plan to finish a few more reading challenges and update a few lists. Already 3 books finished since November started!
  • I’m finally almost done with Proust‘s 3rd volume, and will start the 4th.
  • I started last Sunday posting a review on Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, and I am scheduled to do it every Sunday.
  • And and  and: I am preparing to launch a special feature to swap books exclusively between book bloggers! You’d better think of your list, it’s coming soooooon.

How was YOUR month of October?
And what are your reading plans for November?

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Interview with Christopher Angel – The Mona Lisa Speaks

The Mona Lisa Speaks

by

Christopher ANGEL

366 pages

Release date:  May 6, 2013
by Over The Edge Books

The Mona Lisa Speaks

ISBN-10: 1484166957
ISBN-13: 978-1484166956

Purchase
Publisher | Amazon | Barnes&Noble| iTunes |

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

Brilliant and confident Robertson Ross, an outdoorsy Canadian computer expert hired to update the Louvre’s security system, falls in love with Mathilde, a classic beauty and cultured Parisian art dealer.  But, when he discovers that she’s deeply in debt to Jacques Renard, a powerful and dangerous lord of the French criminal underground, he has to embark on the risky and thrilling theft of the Mona Lisa to save her – and their unborn child.
Rob’s biggest problems actually begin after he successfully steals the Mona Lisa and replaces her with a perfect copy.  Facing betrayals and double-crosses at all turns, he needs every bit of his intelligence, cunning, courage, and computer skills to stay alive and reunite with his true love.  This is a story of thrills, danger, and a Canadian from the frozen North falling in love with Paris. [provided by the author]

READ MY REVIEW

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher AngelEmmy nominee Christopher Angel was inspired to write The Mona Lisa Speaks, his first novel, during a visit to the Louvre, where he dared ask, “why is the Mona Lisa so famous?”  The answer, in part, surprised him: few know that the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911, and went missing for two years.  Wondering what happened in those intervening two years launched his own fictional update of the story.

A professional film-maker, Christopher’s most recent movie as a writer/director is This Is Not A Test – a satire about domestic terrorism that aired on Showtime. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on James Cameron’s documentary, Expedition Bismarck, and won a student Academy Award for his short film, Mr. October.  Christopher received his B.A. from Yale University, where he was a Humanities major, and an MFA in film-making from the University of Southern California.

Get in touch with the author:
www.TheMonaLisaSpeaks.com – with tons of great info!
Twitter @filmangel and @MonaLisaSpeaks

***

 INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER ANGEL

Today, as part of the Virtual Book Tour of Christopher ANGEL with his thriller/suspense art heist story, I’m delighted to interview Christopher on France in his mystery!

reading bug 1. Christopher, your book opens in Le Louvre.
When did you visit it for the first time?
What do you like most in it, apart from the Mona Lisa?

Christopher AngelI first visited Le Louvre when I was five years old, and my family was living just outside London in England.  I remember the trip well – taking the ferry from Dover, and then the major sights of Paris.  Even at that age, I knew there was something special about the Mona Lisa.  I have returned to Le Louvre every 5-10 years since.  Today, I love the museum for its amazing breadth of collections – there are always hidden surprises in some out of the way room.  And if you get away from the Mona Lisa, it can be surprisingly quiet.  Also, I love the architecture – the melding of the old and new.  The modern pyramid entrance is justly famous, and such a dramatic way to arrive in the museum.

2. In your novel, you mix both art and mystery, and art and modern technology: what made you use these “mixed media”? Why do you think it is working?

That’s a great question!  Art and technology was one of the themes that most attracted me to this story. It’s is something I’ve studied and been interested in since college, where I first read Walter Benjamin’s brilliant essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”  In our modern age of perfect digital copies, we still value this relationship with the “original,” “actual” work of art – that’s why there are still huge crowds at Le Louvre in front of the Mona Lisa.  But I hope my novel, through the theft/mystery aspect, asks us why we feel that way.  How does a work of art speak to us, and how does seeing the original version differ from seeing a copy? In many ways, it’s a cultural value – it’s about what society values, and how we define and participate in fame.  Should that be a part of art?  There might be no way around it!

3. The Mona Lisa was indeed stolen in 1911. How much of this event inspired your own story?

On my most recent trip to Paris, I just couldn’t believe how huge the crowds were in front of the Mona Lisa.  I was curious, given some of the other great paintings in Le Louvre, why the Mona Lisa had become so famous.  I went back to my rented apartment on the Ile Saint Louis, and googled “why is the Mona Lisa so famous?”  That’s where and when I first really heard the story of her actual theft in 1911.  The more I read, the more interested in this story I became.  That was the original spark for me to sit down and write the novel.  But, as I explain above, I was also very interested in how modern culture values art, in this time of digital copies, so I decided to update the story to modern times.

4. Rob, a Canadian, falls in love with Paris. Why did you decide to give him the Canadian nationality? In his eyes, how does France compare to Canada? What do you personally think of both countries?

After my family left London, when I was 6, we moved to Toronto, Canada.  My mother is actually French Canadian, so I grew up hearing French spoken at my grandmother’s house, and have always had an interest and affinity for French culture.  I decided to make Rob a Canadian because I felt I could most accurately write his voice for my first novel, plus I was inspired by one of my favorite writers, Robertson Davies.  I think Rob falls in love with Paris quite quickly.  First, he grew up basically in the wilderness of the Yukon (which is similar to Alaska) so it’s quite a contrast.  But, he’s quite worldly, and loves discovering new art, food, music, and all that Paris has to offer.  I, myself, also love Paris more than any other city in the world, and hope to live there some day!  What is interesting is the relationship between French Canadians and Parisians.  In some way, French Canadians, who were cut off from France in the 1760s after the Seven Year’s War, are like anachronistic French people.  We are always a big curiosity to Parisians, especially for our very different accents and even some of our peculiar turns of phrase!

5. Any out of the beaten path places you would recommend to a tourist going for the first time to Paris, or any work of art in Le Louvre you think is not enough known?

I have a map of the locations in my novel on my website at www.TheMonaLisaSpeaks.com.  But I definitely recommend the Catacombs, as an amazing, unique tourist experience.  Inside Le Louvre, my favorite place is the “Salle Rembrandt.”  Rembrandt’s use of light and dark to direct our eye is amazing!  My favorite work of art in all of Paris is actually at the Musee d’Orsay – it is Rodin’s “The Gates of Hell.”  It’s a monumental and amazing sculpture that depicts a scene from Dante’s Inferno.  It even includes a mini version of The Thinker. An amazing sculpture!

***

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
DOES THIS RESONATE WITH YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE
OF ART AND MUSEUMS?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

***

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN THIS BOOK?
CLICK ON THE BANNER HERE BELOW
TO READ OTHER REVIEWS
AND ENTER A GIVEAWAY!

The Mona Lisa Speaks

Book review: The Mona Lisa Speaks – I love France #71

I LOVE FRANCE!

I plan to publish this meme every Thursday.

You can share here about any book

or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

Please spread the news on Twitter, Facebook, etc !

Feel free to grab my button,

and link your own post through Mister Linky,

at the bottom of this post.

*******

The Mona Lisa Speaks

by

Christopher ANGEL

366 pages

Release date:  May 6, 2013
by Over The Edge Books

The Mona Lisa Speaks

ISBN-10: 1484166957
ISBN-13: 978-1484166956

Purchase
Publisher | Amazon | Barnes&Noble| iTunes |

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     Books on France2013 Ebook Challenge

New Authors 2013

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

Rating system

Sometimes, the stars align together!
I like a good mystery, I like art, being myself a painter, and I like computers and the whole digital world! And guess what, they are all here in The Mona Lisa Speaks, in a perfect mix!

Right away, the narrator and hero takes you with him in Paris along La Seine on one of those famous Vélibs, and the action packed art heist mystery won’t let you go. You end up in the very special world of art connoisseurs and dealers, also in some obscure areas of Le Louvre where no tourist can wander, in the company of an incredible geek.

Robertson has been hired by Le Louvre to update their security system. On his bike to work one day, Robertson sees a pretty girl, Mathilde, and decides to follow her. He falls in love with her, but is quickly launched into a messy situation, as he witnesses her accident with 2 motorcycles. When she recovers, he gets to know her better, and what her milieu is. She is in quite a predicament, and to make the story short, he will have to steal the famous painting of the Mona Lisa to save her.

I really liked the characters:
Robertson is both a romantic and a computer genius – yes, it does exist! I was really amazed at what the author invented with computers, security systems, how he made the theft credible. Even though I was confident in Robertson, I was on the edge on my seat when he had to prepare his theft and do it. Had he thought about everything? had he covered all his tracks? Was he really going to be able to do it? Did he, or did something happen at the last minute? You will have to read the book to see for yourself, of course.
By the way, you can learn more about Robertson in this author’s guest-post.

What was really cool about Mathilde is that it took me most of the book, about as long as Robertson, to know if I could trust her or not. On what side was she really? Did she really love Robertson, or was she using him for some very complex art deal? Was she a victim or a fiend? I found it added extra fascinating layers of suspense to the story to wonder all along if she was a reliable character or not.

Ad then you have the whole bunch of art dealers and crooks…, and The Mona Lisa, who does speaks indeed. How? Go and read it.

The style was a great mix, with cool descriptions of Paris, of art, of the museum;  and also lots of suspense with tons of action, of twists and turns.

I don’t remember if I ever read an art heist mystery before, but this book introduced me for sure to fascinating possibilities. Plus it was really cool to have it set in the modern context of digital technology, and not at the beginning of the 20th century when The Mona Lisa was actually stolen.

I think this would be a fantastic movie! And the good news is the author is working on a second mystery, entitled The Sapphire Screams, where we will meet again Robertson and Mathilde! I can’t wait!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

Brilliant and confident Robertson Ross, an outdoorsy Canadian computer expert hired to update the Louvre’s security system, falls in love with Mathilde, a classic beauty and cultured Parisian art dealer.  But, when he discovers that she’s deeply in debt to Jacques Renard, a powerful and dangerous lord of the French criminal underground, he has to embark on the risky and thrilling theft of the Mona Lisa to save her – and their unborn child.
Rob’s biggest problems actually begin after he successfully steals the Mona Lisa and replaces her with a perfect copy.  Facing betrayals and double-crosses at all turns, he needs every bit of his intelligence, cunning, courage, and computer skills to stay alive and reunite with his true love.  This is a story of thrills, danger, and a Canadian from the frozen North falling in love with Paris. [provided by the author]

READ AN EXCERPT

WATCH A FANTASTIC TRAILER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher AngelEmmy nominee Christopher Angel was inspired to write The Mona Lisa Speaks, his first novel, during a visit to the Louvre, where he dared ask, “why is the Mona Lisa so famous?”  The answer, in part, surprised him: few know that the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911, and went missing for two years.  Wondering what happened in those intervening two years launched his own fictional update of the story.

A professional film-maker, Christopher’s most recent movie as a writer/director is This Is Not A Test – a satire about domestic terrorism that aired on Showtime. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on James Cameron’s documentary, Expedition Bismarck, and won a student Academy Award for his short film, Mr. October.  Christopher received his B.A. from Yale University, where he was a Humanities major, and an MFA in film-making from the University of Southern California.

Get in touch with the author:
www.TheMonaLisaSpeaks.com – with tons of great info!
Twitter @filmangel and @MonaLisaSpeaks

COME BACK ON THURSDAY 31
FOR MY INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER ANGEL!

***

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ART HEIST BOOK ?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

***

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN THIS BOOK?
CLICK ON THE BANNER HERE BELOW
TO READ OTHER REVIEWS
AND ENTER A GIVEAWAY!

The Mona Lisa SpeaksIn full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this ebook for free from  the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.

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please if possible

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