Passing Love is all that jazz, love & lies

*A big thank you goes to Hachette Books for sending me Passing Love via the Ontario Blog Squad‘s blogger meet-up. Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett is available today!

Passing Love is a romance from start to finish. Nicole Handy leaves her home in California and against everyone’s wishes, goes to Paris for a month. What she finds there is more than the magnificent architecture in Paris, she finds her own story. But what she ultimately finds out is that history is indeed something to leave in the past.

The best part of Passing Love is when Nicole traces her aunt’s history in Paris, dating all the way back to the post-War jazz scene. The setting is rich, luxurious and scuzzy at the same time. And without the morality policing and discrimination faced by blacks in the Southern U.S., it’s no wonder that so many African-American musicians gathered in Paris during this time. Nicole’s aunt, RubyMae, is glamourous, precocious and well, she makes poor decisions. But she’s also everything that Nicole is not.

Photo credit: Martin Soler (

I had a problem with the pace of Passing Love. I wasn’t hooked until about 40 pages in. I fear many readers will give up on the book before it gets really good – and it does get very good. Nicole also runs into a lot of the same people over and over again in random places all over Paris. It’s too much of a coincidence for a city as large of Paris! If I were Nicole, I’d be asking all these random French men why they were stalking me.

Each chapter also starts with vocabulary list from Nicole’s French dictionary. I initially found the lists awkward and reminded me of my elementary school French textbooks. But as the story progresses, I started to see more meaning behind those vocabulary lists.

But Passing Love does a great job of describing the passion behind love – the kind that defies all sense of logic and reason. For some, it’s for a man or a woman but for RubyMae and Nicole that love is for Paris. Luckett tells a convincing doomed love story between people but ultimately makes us all fall in love with a city.

Related Penguins: Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon – a beautiful snapshot, The Sweet Sweeper reminds us how far we’ve come – or have we?

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Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon – a beautiful snapshot

I heard so many rave reviews about Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon that I had to see what all the fuss was about. There are a lot of authors writing about Paris but Gopnik seems to be THE Francophile on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

I wasn’t in Paris long enough to be wooed by it. But I imagine Gopnik would have said that Paris doesn’t care to woo me. Paris to the Moon is the complete unpublished journal entries of Gopnik’s five-year New Yorker assignment. Despite being published in 2000, his reflections on life as an ex-pat are still remarkably fresh. He does a wonderful job at depicting all the insecurities of being the “outsider” looking in.

Some of my favourite parts of the book were his reflections on raising a child in Paris. There are also reflections on French life – another hilarious story about fitness centres in Paris, or the lack thereof. You can practically salivate at his descriptions of Parisian cuisine. It’s all a fantastic read till Gopnik starts trying to justify why soccer is so boring. I found that chapter so dull, I could barely finish the pages. Gopnik is by no means a sports writer.

Perhaps the best reflections are about French politics. He explains that his answering machine constantly gives a “distant erreur” message and that French politics is much the same way. The problems are always from someplace else. And in a lot of ways, this is politics everywhere.

Gopnik is truly, madly, deeply in love with Paris. He takes a great snapshot of a culture that is slowly losing its lustre thanks to the commercialization of all things good. Hundreds of years from now, we’ll read Paris to the Moon and wonder if we’ll ever see the bistros he describes again.

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Waiting On Wednesday: Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan

This my first edition of “Waiting On Wednesday”! I recently discovered that Breaking the Spine features an event where bloggers say which books they are eagerly anticipating / checking out over and over again Amazon and Indigo websites. At least that’s what I do.

I’m really excited for Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan! There’s a touch of romance, a touch of supernatural(?) and whole lot of Paris in this story so it’s already sounds pretty good. Paperback release date is November 22 but it won’t be out on Kindle until December 5. Here’s the synopsis:

Everyday Mathilde takes the Metro, then the commuter train to the office of a large multi-national where she works in the marketing department. Every day, the same routine, the same trains. But something happened a while ago – she dared to voice a different opinion from her moody boss, Jacques. Bit by bit she finds herself frozen out of everything, with no work to do.
Thibault is a paramedic. Every day he drives to the addresses he receives from his controller. The city spares him no grief: traffic jams, elusive parking spaces, delivery trucks blocking his route. He is well aware that he may be the only human being many of the people he visits will see for the entire day and is well acquainted with the symptomatic illnesses, the major disasters, the hustle and bustle and, of course, the immense, pervading loneliness of the city.
Before one day in May, Mathilde and Thibault had never met. They were just two anonymous figures in a crowd, pushed and shoved and pressured continuously by the loveless, urban world.

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Kobo Vox Reader Perks

Related reading: Kindle Vox Backlight (10/28/11)

Kobo announced yesterday that they were launching their new colour tablet called Kobo Vox to appease the angry Canadian masses who were hoping for a Kindle Fire (no Canadian release date in sight). A lot of information was available in the press release. Too bad most people would rather eat soap that read press releases.

But there are a few interesting tidbits that might appeal to voracious readers:

– Kobo Vox’s backlit screen is anti-glare and optimized for outdoor reading. Apparently, it’s what they use in airplane cockpits. I’m not too sure what that means.

–  The screen has an extra wide angle viewing so you can read with your kids (or a very lazy boyfriend who doesn’t want to turn his own pages).

– Along with the basic Twitter and Facebook apps, it also comes with Zinio with a BONUS 12 free mags for Kobo Vox readers (you don’t get to choose which ones though).

– PressReader app comes with 7 free papers of your choice for Vox readers.

– Kobo Vox is super social! You can comment and read comments and share all over the place. And you can earn Kobo badges. Now all your friends can know you’re more well-read than them!

Like the Kindle Fire, the Kobo Vox is also $200. Kobo also has books in different languages and recently made a deal with a major French publisher. If they ever had Chinese on there, I’d probably buy one for my mom.

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