Short reviews: poetry

Short reviews: poetry

I used to read a lot of poetry in French, but I’m extremely picky in English and can only appreciate very short verses. Recently, I read 2 very interesting books of poems:

  Arabian Love poems Brown Girl Dreaming

Arabian Love Poems, by Nizar Kabbani, or Qabbani

As some of you may know, among other things I teach French on line, through Skype. I have students from all over the world, from all walks or life, which makes me discover lots of fascinating things in areas I would not discover by myself.
One of my students who has a very wide culture and is learning many languages, spoke to me about Nizar Kabbani. He was actually appalled I had never heard about him. When I read more about him, I was indeed quite ashamed.

I was fortunate to be able to find this bilingual edition in my library –even though alas I cannot understand the original.
Anyway the English translation is beautiful, and there’s a fascinating introduction presenting this famous Syrian poet, one of the most revered contemporary poets in the Arab world, and his ideas.
I like how Goodreads presents him:

Kabbani was a poet of great simplicity – direct, spontaneous, musical, using the language of everyday life. He was a ceaseless campaigner for women’s rights, and his verses praise the beauty of the female body, and of love. He was an Arab nationalist, yet he criticized Arab dictators and the lack of freedom in the Arab world.

And here is a perfect example:

In the summer
I stretch out on the shore
And think of you
Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
Its shells,
Its fish,
And followed me.

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

I discovered this year that I could watch the National Book Award Ceremony in free online live streaming. It was very interesting, I enjoyed Gaiman’s speech honoring Ursula K. Le Guin and her own speech. And I discovered new authors. I was impressed by Jacqueline Woodson and decided to read her book who won the Award in the category Young People’s Literature.

It is really a unique book, as Woodson uses the poetry genre to tell her own story: how it was like to grow up as an African American in between South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and 1970s. Her poems are very easy to understand, giving voice to her young self. They feel deeply authentic and moving, as they deal of course with the hot social and racial issues, but also her growing love of words and her dreams of becoming a writer one day.
This is really a beautiful book.

Here are 2 short passages:




Mrs. Pollifax: series review

Mrs. Pollifax,


Dorothy Gilman

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax #1) The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax
The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax, #4) Mrs. Pollifax on Safari
Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station (Mrs. Pollifax, Book 6) Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha (Mrs. Pollifax, Book 7) Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle (Mrs. Pollifax, Book 8)
Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish (Mrs. Pollifax, # 9) Mrs Pollifax and the second thief Mrs. Pollifax Pursued (Mrs. Pollifax, Book 11)
Mrs Pollifax and the lion killer Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist (Mrs. Pollifax, Book 13) Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled (Mrs. Pollifax, Book 14)

Every good thing has an end…

In 2012, I started a reading challenge that has since proved to be one of my most fascinating reading experiences:
to read a book related to 52 different countries.

I did it loosely, considering either the author was from that country, or simply that the book was set there. It was definitely challenging at times to find a book for a particular country in my library, and especially because I was trying to see if I could find some as audiobooks.

So one day, searching through my local public library catalog for Morocco, I came up with Mrs. Pollifax and The Whirling Dervish, by Dorothy Gilman and narrated by Barbara Rosenblat.
I thought it was brilliant, and I soon discovered that each book of the series was set in a different country. Perfect! I reviewed most of them here as I went along (get to the reviews with the links here below).

Today, as I have alas listened to all of the 14 books of the series, and the author died 2 years ago, I ‘d like to recapitulate and tell you why this series is so good, and why you should definitely try it.

Click to continue reading

2014: August wrap-up

As everyone around, I’m wondering where August went, but it did manage to give me good reads.

Here is what I read in August:

10 books.
= 8 books
with 2,471 pages, that is:  79.7 pages/day.
+ 2 audiobooks = 14:55 hours, that is an average of  28 mn/day

 5 historical novels:

  1. Midnight in Europe, by Alan Furst – audiobook. (it’s also a spy novel, but the historical background was better used than the spy elements, so I classify it here as histfic)
  2. The Wharf of Chartrons, by Jean-Paul Malaval
  3. Madame Picasso, by Anne Girard
  4. The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, by Kim Rendfeld – ebook. Review on 9/1
  5. Edwin, High King of Britain, by Edoardo Albert – Review on 9/15

3 in nonfiction:

  1. Arabian Love Poems, by Nizar Kabbani
  2. France on the Brink, by Jonathan Fenby
  3. Toi qui as soif de bonheur, by Jean-Pierre Longeat – in French.

1 in  literary fiction:

  1.  Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami

1 mystery:

  1. Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled, by Dorothy Gilman


My favorites this month:

   Madame Picasso   Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki

This is terribly hard to choose:
I enjoyed very much three of the five historical novels,
loved the Poems and Fenby’s book on France
and of course this dear Mrs. Pollifax!


Reading Challenges recap

Audiobook: 9/12
Books on France: 40/24
Ebook challenge: 15/25
Historical fiction: 24/25
Japanese literature: 2/6
New authors challenge: 50/50
My Kind of Mysteries: 15/20
TBR challenge: 2/12
What’s in a Name: 3/5
Where Are You Reading?: 16/50 – to be finished in 2014

Total of books read in 2014 = 66/105

Number of books added to my TBR in August = 57


Blog recap

  1. 7 of the 10 books read this month were received for review.

  2. Already 72 reviews for my Books on France Challenge, don’t forget to link yours.

  3. I organized 4 giveaways this month. There’s always one going on at France Book Tours.. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the September Giveaway! a great fiction starting n Paris!

  4. I decided finally to expand my Mailbox Monday, and to combine it with It’s Monday! What Are You reading, WWW Wednesdays in a Sunday Post. Have done it  four times so far.
  5. I finally got rid of Words Ads, and am inviting anyone selling French products or services related to France to advertize both on Words And Peace and France Book Tours. Spread the news!
  6. And I launched a Newsletter subscription! The subscribers will receive exclusive content, not posted on the blog, and will have access to a special giveaway every month, not available on the blog either. If you have not subscribed yet, it’s time to do so if you want to be entered in the awesome September giveaway! I can only tell you it’s a book mentioned on this page!


Most popular book review in August

France on the Brinkclick on the cover to access my review

Most popular post last month – non book review

Sunday Post #4

Book blog that brought me
most traffic this past month

Caffeinated Book Reviewer

please go visit

Blog milestones

932 posts
over 1,885 subscribers
over 66,700 hits


Blog plans for September

Apart from reviews scheduled, I plan to keep working at reviewing books read earlier on this year.
And be prepare my blogiversary is coming in 28 days! There will be of course a mega giveaway!

And on 9/27, I will be part of the 30 Authors in 30 Days event on The Book Wheel Blog! Be sure to viit starting on Monday, there will be awesome giveaways!
You can follow on Facebook, or with #30Authors on Twitter!



How was YOUR month of  August?