Sleeping With The Enemy

Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel, Nazi Agent by Hal Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coco Chanel is known as a fashion icon. She is respected for her vision, brilliance, and the way she changed the world of fashion. Nowadays, every woman in the world proudly owns or wishes to own a piece of the Chanel Collection. The famous CC logo is a sign of a classic style. But during the grim years of WWII, rumors were spread about her involvement with the Nazis. Was Coco “in bed with the enemy”? At last, Hal Vaughan reveals the truth.

Coco is best described as a cat. In her 87 years, she had lived an adventurous life. From a poor upbringing to building a fashion empire and making the world’s most powerful friends, Coco has faced life’s major ups and downs. She has left a grand mark in WWII history that no one talks about. Coco was a cold opportunist, and an amoral, ethically challenged survivor who had clawed her way to the top, but the world remembers and admires Coco for her exquisite fashion style.

Detailed biography that covers Chanel’s early years, but mainly focuses on her life during and after WWII. I wouldn’t say I’ve learned anything particularly new from this book, but it did bring clarity to her involvement with the Nazis including her long time german lover. Overall this book is a good look into the past.

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The Code Breaker

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful and informative biography of Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna. This is a very different kind of read, not my usual type and it took me longer than usual to finish it. Correction, it took me a long time to begin the book, once I started – it was hard to put it down. Walter Isaacson has a very specific way to simplify and describe a very complex world of science.

In this book, the author describes the development of CRISPR, and how it leads a team of scientists all over the world to create covid-19 vaccines, edit DNA, and open a world to a list of new “medical miracles”. Although the book includes numerous medical researchers and scientists, it mainly focuses on Doudna and the work that was done in her lab.

Thank you, Goodreads for a free copy of the book.

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An American in Provence

An American in Provence: Art, Life and Photography by Jamie Beck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautiful, feel-good book with absolutely stunning photos.

The moment I began to read this book, it unleashed the memories of my own desire to leave NY and move across the ocean to a beautiful Frances. Jamie Beck’s story is simply satisfying. I could not help but burst with joy at her new life in Provence. The struggles with the new culture and language made her love for wonderful France even stronger.

An inspiring book, filled not only with great and happy experiences but includes amazing recipes that I have tried and it came out delicious (taking into consideration this was my first time making it), cant wait to try the rest.

And the photos are simply remarkable. Jamie Beck is a successful professional photographer, and all photos that are included in this wonderful book are taken by her. She also gives a number of tips on how to take beautiful shots.

Now I am going to stop bragging about this book so you can go ahead and get a copy of it for yourself. This will also make a phenomenal gift.

Thank you, NetGalley for a free and advanced copy of the book and Jamie Beck for a an astonishing story.

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My Life In France

My Life in France by Julia Child

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I met Julia Child for the first time in the movie “Julie and Julia”. It took me a while to get to this wonderful book, but I am so glad I’ve waited this long as I’ve appreciated it so much more.
First, Julia is a firecracker. So much fire in one character, I was simply amazed! But we have bonded on our mutual love for the delicious French cuisine.

Julia’s life in France is simply spectacular. I could feel her character shine thru the words of the book. She was able to adapt to post war Paris and fall in love with the magnificent city within the days of her arrival. But this book is not about Paris, or France. It’s about the French cuisine. Julia was the first person who taught the world, not just the Americans, how to master the French cooking. The work that went into the first cook book was tremendous, and I was amazed at how much thought was put into each recipe. I was so impressed, I’ve ordered the cook book and going to try the famous recipes myself. Wish me luck!

My second favorite part of the book is Julia and Paul’s relationship. Their love, support and patience for each other is simply inspiring.

This was an undeniably enjoyable read.

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anything that works against you can also work for you once you understand the Principle of Reverse.

Maya and Bailey’s travel journey began with their first move to a small Southern town to live with their parental grandmother after their parents’ divorce. But as two siblings settled down in their new home, their parents made yet another decision of relocating their children. This time, Maya and Bailey moved into their mother’s hometown. While Bailey was beyond happy to be reunited with their mother, Maya felt a sting of loss. And when her mother’s admirer showed Maya a little affection, the little girl fell into the arms of a very malicious man. After the traumatic event, Maya and Bailey are moved to their grandmother’s house, where the young girl discovers her calling for studying. But the duo’s adventure is only beginning. The following move is back to their beloved mother. This time, Maya strikes a deep connection with her mother, whose support teaches her valuable life lessons.

The novel ends on a sweet note. But it left me with so many questions and a longing to know more of Maya’s story. From her rough upbringing, Maya brought into her adulthood love, self-worth, and strength to overcome any obstacles played on her road to this beautiful thing we call life. Such an inspiring novel. Throughout the book, reading about subjects such as rape and racism, I felt no notion of resentment. Maya’s novel bursts with joy for life, willingness for change, and longing for equality. She teaches the readers that it’s ok to go thru abuse, survive and be happy. You are not alone.

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How Paris Became Paris

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City by Joan DeJean

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I left my heart in Paris… ever since every time I visit this magnificent city – I fall in love with it over and over again.

The city of light represents more than an Eiffel tower and shops on the Champs-Élysées, it’s more than fresh croissant from the local boulangerie, or a love lock on pond des arts. Paris holds so much history, although it is not an “old” city. This book is a phenomenal historical guide on the raise of the city of lights. Paris was a city of many firsts – the sidewalks, street theaters/entertainments, shops, street lights… The book includes the history of Paris’ bridges, architecture, streets/boulevards, and most importantly the history of the city’s financial growth and new wealth. Do not get me started on fashion and romance.

The history Paris has to offer is overwhelming. And this wonderful book highlights the major changes that made Paris what we know it today.

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Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies by Laura Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heiresses and us, regular mortals, are two different types of humankind. The first, who was born into money, look at the world in a completely different way. One of the many differences is the danger money brings. Laura Thompson takes the reader way back into the seventeenth century when women were nothing more but property in a hands of their husbands. They were forced into unwanted marriages, some kidnapped, and some ended up in an asylum. But with each century they improved their positions and equality in the world.

My favorite part of the book was the end of nineteen and the beginning of the twentieth century. That’s the beginning of feminism and drastic change in the world of “old” and “new” money. The book combines many interesting stories of the heiresses. Many of which are referenced in multiple classical novels by Jane Austin, Edith Wharton, etc. This is a very relaxing and entertaining read with short “biographies” of the world’s wealthiest women. Thank you, NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a free and advanced copy of the book.

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The Wonder Weeks

The Wonder Weeks: A Stress-Free Guide to Your Baby’s Behavior by Xaviera Plas-Plooij

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t express how wonderful this book is. I was told of this book before my daughter’s arrival into this wonderful world and began reading it right after her birth.

First of all – this book is a god sent. It’s broken down into leaps, aka baby phases. I usually read one leap ahead just to prep myself for what is about to come next. Each leap explains a child’s milestone and their development progress. It also describes their behavior. It makes it so much easier to understand what the baby is going thru. As a first-time mom – this book is such a wonderful guide. Every time it lets me know that I am not the only one in this situation, all babies go thru this stage, I am actually a good mom. It gives me a better connection with my daughter. Each chapter, also known as a leap, includes exercises and games that are appropriate to play with the babies at the assigned age that helps with their development, and are fun activities for mommy/daughter time.

I have read a few books, and a million mommy blogs and searched for what to expect, or baby advice. This book is basically all the books and blogs combined into a few pages. That’s another beauty of this book. The chapter for each leap/phase is 15-20 pages long. Us, new parents, do not have time to read and this book is like a flashcard for new parents: short, straight to the point with examples.

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The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel

The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel by Kati Marton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“A woman in power has more urgent business to attend to than her ego.”

Prior to reading the biography, I knew of the remarkable work Angela Merkel has done during her time in office. And of course, during this biography, I was blown away by the change she has applied to the EU. But mostly, I was fascinated by Mrs. Merkel’s charisma. It was interesting to learn of the Chancellor’s childhood and upbringing behind the wall. Her life before the fall of the Wall. It explains Mrs. Merkel’s fight for the refugees’ rights. And her war with the world’s biggest dictator – Putin. The book covered her partnership with Xi Jinping, Obama, and Emmanuel Macron. I was impressed with the way the Chancellor has handled the situation with China and the deal that was signed at the end of 2020. And don’t get me started with the global pandemic and the way Mrs. Merkel’s strategy resulted in the lowest GDP drop in the world.

Being the Chancellor of Germany is not an easy task. Even over 75 years after the horrors of WWII, people skeptically look at Germany and its power over the UN. Mrs. Merkel has been taking steps to make amends with the Jewish society and gain their trust and respect. Her outlook on human rights and equality is impeccable. Her strategies are outstanding, well thought thru and prepared. This is a world leader who is not afraid to face the challenges of the political world. During her years in the office, Germany’s economy has improved, and the world is “speaking German” now. When the Chancellor has inherited the office, she had big goals to achieve, and she has reached it all and more. She was able to put Germany back on the map with all its glory.

Angel Merkel is an inspiring role model. This was my first biography about Mrs. Merkel, and I absolutely enjoyed it. This is an easy read, it was not written in chronological order, instead, each chapter highlighted a specific subject of the Chancellor’s leadership period.

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Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old

Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-By-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success by Suzy Giordano

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Received this book as a gift when my baby girl was born.

The good part – it’s a fast read since a new mom does not have time to sit down and read any book. My advice for new mommies is to read this book before your baby is born. Or you will end up like me stretching the read throughout five weeks.

The bad part – there is not a lot of useful information. Basically, 90% of the book is about baby sleep whisperer and how good she is at her job (I’m sure she is very good as she has built her career on this great skill), and only 10% of actually useful info.

Well, by the time I was able to finish the book, my baby girl was already sleeping thru most of the night. An author, the baby coach as she likes to call herself, lists many good tips in the book that should help with training your baby to sleep twelve hours per night. I’ve used my own methods (combined pieces of advice from other baby books and family and friends) for my daughter’s sleep training, however, I’ve applied a few tips from the book to my daily and nightly nap/sleep routines and I can tell that 90% of the time it did work. Hence not a total waste of time reading the book.

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Bringing Up Bebe

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came upon this book by multiple recommendations and it was way better than I expected it to be.

First of all, the book is created in two parts. In the first part, the author describes her life as a mother in France and her parental shock on the difference of bringing up the baby in a completely different baby culture. As she outlines french baby care and compares it to the American one that she has experienced herself, we see a drastic difference. When American parents are pushing their kids into the educating world and trying to raise their IQ at an early age, french parents taking a step back, letting their kids “discover” the world, and take their time to simply be a child.

The book concentrates not only on how to raise the child but also on how to keep the relationship between the parents.

The author does not praise one set of cultural parenting, but simply compares the two. Lists explanations and examples. While there are multiple differences not only in the culture between the two countries, the author also sheds the light on the French government and the help it offers for the parents and kids, which must have been taken into consideration while comparing the parenting techniques and styles between the countries.

I’ve read a few books on parenting and must admit that this book was the best. It’s easy to read, very simply explained and I love the examples. And cant wait to use many of the listed tips when the time comes.

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The Secret Diary of a New Mum (aged 43 1/4)

The Secret Diary of a New Mum by Cari Rosen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed parts of the book. Although I am not in my forties, however, I found many similarities between my and the author’s experiences. Overall the book was very entertaining and offers some good guidance. I have expected the book to be more educating, however, the author’s writing was focused on her personal experience and outcome. I found good info in the book. It was like discussing my own experience with a friend.

I did feel bad for the author, she went thru a rough experience not just pregnancy-wise, but more mental discouragement and judgment. It is sad to see there are people who would judge the new mother because of her age. And instead of accepting the judgment, an author took this experience and made it into a book. I applaud her for her sense of humor, for standing up to the “bullies” and proving that motherhood may be challenging in the forties, but not less exciting and enjoyable.

Good and quick read. Thank you NetGalley for a free and advanced copy of the book.

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