Category Archives: Europe

Letters to Juliet

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Country Set in: Italy

Summary: When aspiring magazine writer Sophia Marcus and would-be resaturanteur Victor fly from New York to Italy for a vacation, the stage seems set for some much-needed romance in their relationship – especially since their destination is the city of Verona, home of the star-crossed lover Juliet Capulet of Romeo & Juliet fame. But Victor is far more interested in finding suppliers for his future restaurant than in wooing Sophia, who ends up getting a vicarious romantic fix from an unlikely source; she jions a group of volunteers who respond to letters that pour into Verona from around the world – letters to Juliet seeking advice about love. One such letter that Sophia responds to dates back to 1951 and came from one Claire Smith, an Englishwoman who fell in love with a young Italian man in her youth but let the opportunity slip away. To Sophia’s surprise, her letter inspires Claire, now a grandmother, to travel to Verona in search of her long-lost love – accompanied by her grandson Charlie. With Victor wrapped up in his culinary quest, Sophia, Charlie and Claire scour the beautiful Italian countryside in search of Claire’s long-lost love. In the process, romance blossoms in unexpected ways, eventually facing Sophia with the very advice she wrote in her letter to Claire. Will she find the courage to seize love or – like Claire – spend a lifetime regretting the road not taken?

Lately there are a few countries I am obsessing over. China, France, England and Italy. I am hoping to spend two weeks in Naples next year (fingers crossed my eye surgery goes according to plan) so I am finding myself trying to get my hands on any movie or book that I can to get myself in the mood to visit.  Lucky for me there is a lot of books and movies set in Italy.  So clearly I am not the only one that lusts over this beautiful destination.

I decided to go ahead and re-watch Letters to Juliet and believe me I was not disappointed. I am not the warm fuzzy romantic type but I would be a liar if I didn’t say this story didn’t give me the warm fuzzies.  If I ever make it to Verona, I am going to have to do the whole Romeo and Juliet thing, who cares if those two were morons it is a tragic love story, and a firm reminder that hey even if you love life sucks, it could be worse ;:

Anyway I digress, there is just something to be said about finding your long lost love after 50 years.  It is a story that makes headlines often and there is a reason for it.  It shows that love conquers all even time.

Or hell, maybe it was the beautiful Tuscan back ground.  Yeah, lets go with that.

The overall ratings on this movie were poor but I enjoyed it, and I think anyone that wants to see the beautiful Italian backdrop without getting on plane will enjoy this romantic comedy.

Plus the guy that plays Charlie is a cuties, and Amanda is so freaking cute.  I really hope I get the chance to meet her someday.

What Italian movie should I watch next?

My First Murder by Leena Lehtolainen

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Country Set In: Finland
My Rating: 3.5 maybe 4. Torn over this one.

Summary: Twenty-three-year-old law student Maria Kallio is recruited for a temporary position at the Helsinki police department. Sweet-faced but tough and hot-tempered, Maria faces pushback from her new squad – so when a young playboy is murdered at his family’s summer villa, the new detective is out to prove herself.
Found floating facedown at the water’s edge after a night of partying, Tommi Pelatonen appears to have been murdered by one of his closest friends – but why? As Maria discovers, bitter passion and jealousy seethe under the placid surface of the group’s privileged, carefree lifestyle. As Maria uncovers the victim’s unsavory secrets, motives for all seven suspects come to light. Now it’s up to her to untangle the clues before the killer strikes again.

The first book in Leena Lehtolainen’s international bestselling Nordic crime series starring Detective Maria Kallio, My First Murder serves up murder with a slice of life in the Finnish upper crust.

Let me first say this was a good book, very good but slow at times, which is what kept it from being great.  I read the book in one sitting and I did find the book enjoyable, I can’t place what I didn’t like about the book.

I will read the next book though because the author does have a flair with words that will suck you in to this story.

The plot:  The whodunit is not easily solved, which I enjoyed.  I love when a story keeps me guessing almost to the very end, I figured it out about five pages before the “big reveal”.  This book had plenty of twist and turns that will keep any reader interested until the very end.

The Characters” Quickly developed, I found the main character believable but maybe slightly young for everything she has accomplished.   Then again maybe that is a Finnish thing?

Overall I liked this story a lot and I will continue to read the series, plus let’s be honest how cool is it to read a book based in Finland?

Recommended for those who want a quick mystery read that will transport them to Helsinki.

Sleeping with Paris by Juliette Sobanet

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Purchase Link: Sleeping with Paris (A Paris Romance Book 1)
Country Set in : France
My Rating: 5 stars

Summary:  Charlotte Summers is a sassy, young French teacher two days away from moving to Paris. Love of her life by her side, for those romantic kisses walking along the Seine? Check. Dream of studying at the prestigious Sorbonne University? Admission granted. But when she discovers her fiancé’s online dating profile and has a little chat with the busty red-head he’s been sleeping with on the side, she gives up on committed relationships and decides to navigate Paris on her own. Flings with no strings in the City of Light—mais oui!

Determined to stop other women from finding themselves in her shoes, Charlotte creates an anonymous blog on how to date like a man in the City of Love—that is, how to jump from bed to bed without ever falling in love. But, with a slew of Parisian men beating down her door, a hot new neighbor who feeds her chocolate in bed, and an appearance by her ex-fiancé, she isn’t so sure she can keep her promise to remain commitment-free. When Charlotte agrees to write an article for a popular women’s magazine about her Parisian dating adventures—or disasters, rather—will she risk losing the one man who’s swept her off her feet and her dream job in one fell swoop?

First I want to note that I listened to this book while I was working and it made me laugh a lot. I am surrounded by dudes and I kept thinking if these boys only knew…

The Plot: Pretty much Charlotte is scorned by an scumbag ex that cheated on her and decided that she was going to keep moving with her life and move to Paris. She starts a blog about dating like a man and tells everyone about it. As a blogger I loved this idea her posts made me laugh, especially with her rules and stories. This book made a very busy work day move that much faster. I completely enjoyed the fast pace of this story.

Charlotte– I loved Charlotte and found her very believable and wishing I had a friend like her, she was very light hearted and her emotions felt very real. She was just devastated by a man and I found the aftermath of her emotions believable. I found her situations believable.  I know plenty of woman that have had a long term relationship end and then find themselves in impossible situations that they had no clue how it happened.  I felt the author wrote amazing and believable characters that were not over the top.  Which is was great.

Luc: At first this man frustrated me, but he quickly grew on me and I can see why woman refer to him as their book boyfriend.

Overall I must admit this book is making me wonder if French men rank up their with Italian men. I know plenty of Italians (they are fun and flirty) but don’t know many French men, but if this book has any relevance well… maybe it is time to pack a bad and roll to Paris?

Places mentioned that will give you wanderlust:

Sorbonne University

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Photo Credit: CrossRoads2012.org

 

Now, I went to college. I very small college in Huntsville Texas, I loved that campus. I enjoyed the early morning (and sometimes late night) walks on campus, the fall leaves the weather…. but wow this college is beautiful and I am really starting to realize how much I missed out when it comes to college.

French men.

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The big part of this book is about dating French men, so I thought it would be hilarious to type French Men Image and click “I am feeling lucky”  and this man popped up.  Maybe this girl is on to something here…. thinking about packing up and moving to France like Charlotte? Here is a great dating guide from Girls Guide to Paris.

Boulevard Saint-Germaine

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Photo Credit: Commons.wikmedia.org

 

I have seen photos of this before and now I know it has a name, and it makes me want to seek it out and have drinks just like the main character.

After Wimbledon by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

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Purchase Link:After Wimbledon
Country Set in: Britain
My Rating: 5 stars

Summary: After 12 years on the pro. tennis tour and four years with her sort-of boyfriend, Lucy Bennett has had enough. She wants real life… and real love.

Her life, her decision. Right? Well, no one else seems to think so. With opinions on all sides, Lucy’s head is spinning. And she’s stumbling right into the arms of long-term crush and fellow player Sam. Shame her boyfriend – his arch-rival – would sooner smash a racquet over their heads than agree to a simple change of partners.

As the Wimbledon Championships play out, Lucy fights for her life on and off the courts. The question is: what will she be left with after Wimbledon?

Roberts is quickly becoming one of my favorite British chick-lit authors, I find her stories quirky fun & fast.   In fact I often read the stories so fast I am sad they are over not because the endings are sad, but because the characters that I quickly started to love are gone.

This story was not any different.  Can I say I just LOVED Sam!  He was a dreamy and well perfect.  It is a darn shame that man is fictional.   I loved him immediately.

Lucy was lovable too, although there were times I wanted face palm and scream why.  At the same time my agitation was the sort of agitation I would give to a close friend when the do something dumb.  Her family is an utter train wreck and her mother made me sick, but she was lovable and believable.  She was also kind hearted.

Joe? Ugh.  He doesn’t deserve much more effort than that.

I am not really that huge into tennis, but I do love watching Wimbledon.  It is the only time I watch tennis (gasp I know) but after reading this I can understand why.  I am not sure if the author has first hand knowledge of this event or not but I do feel like she was doing a great job giving us a behind the scenes account.

Needless to say I started reading this book and was finished with it a few hours later, this was a fast paced read and I was sad when the story was over.  The characters were just that well written.

I also recommend the Dr. Pepper Prophecies by this author.  I gave that book five stars as well