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

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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Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close

Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other CloseBig Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“Big Friendship” is a story of Aminatou and Ann’s friendship. I found the description misleading, as I was expecting more “tips” on how to maintain friendship thru the years.

This book is basically is self biography of Aminatou and Ann. It starts with their lives after college and follows two friends thru their personal relationships and careers. Authors cover their happy and joyless moments and how they worked thru the hard times. It’s a great friendship that survived many difficulties thru the years.

I was disappointed as I expected some kind of guide, examples of how to keep the friendship versatile. And instead, I found myself reading thru a biography.

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The First Actress

The First ActressThe First Actress by C.W. Gortner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sarah Bernhardt – an actress, theater star, courtesan, humanitarian, single mother, sister, friend. She is one of a kind. A person who played so many different roles on and off the stage.

Sarah has lived a very full life. A daughter of a famous courtesan and wealthy french nobleman, Jewish by birth, Christian by choice. Her adamant and bold attitude lured me into the pages of her life story. From a very early age, young Sarah showed her strong willpower and determination, she set goals and achieved it, and stood up to her oppressors. Sarah was never afraid to take on serious responsibilities, help friends and family in need.

Sarah Bernard built her name using her talent and ambition. Sarah’s story is fascinating. A bastard who not only became a famous actress but was able to portray both male and female roles, started in theater proceeded into the film world, and became the highest paying actress of her time. I am very happy that I came across this wonderful novel, thank you NetGalley and Ballentine Books Publisher for a free and advanced copy of the novel and an author for a wonderful life story of Sarah Bernard.

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Becoming Beauvoir

Becoming Beauvoir: A LifeBecoming Beauvoir: A Life by Kate Kirkpatrick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My very first book about Simone de Beauvoir and I loved every detail about her life.

The biography was well written and kept me very interested and entertained, mainly because Beauvoir was a fascinating woman. Such an extraordinary philosopher and novelist! I was blown away by her life story, so many interesting qualities in one tiny person. What caught my big attention was the years during Nazi occupancy, she didn’t join the resistance, and continued to write and publish her works. Although her devotion and relationship with Sartre were confusing to me. I was also amused by an unusual “family” they have created.

Great story about remarkable woman and feminist. I think the book was a bit too long, nevertheless, it was worth the time I spend reading it.

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The Queen of Paris

The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco ChanelThe Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel by Pamela Binnings Ewen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been a big fan of Coco Chanel for many years. The more I read about the fashion icon – the more I fall in love with her personality, strength, stubbornness, and big loving heart. Coco’s intelligence and willingness to survive fascinates me and can’t get enough of her life story.

“The Queen of Paris” is a wonderful novel that shades more lights on Coco’s years during the great war, especially her collaboration with Nazi. The author did a great job explaining the action Coco had to take in order to save herself, her loved ones, and her business during the difficult years of the war.

As I read many books about the enchanting mademoiselle Coco, a lot of facts are already known to me, however, the part about the association with Nazi was extremely fascinating and informative. Thank you NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for an advanced copy of the novel and Pamela Binnings Ewen for a wonderful story of The Queen of Paris.

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Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944

Chanel's Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944 by Anne de Courcy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Chanel’s Riviera is entertaining and easy to read with many captivating facts about Côte d’Azur and Paris during the 1930s through late 1944.

The novel is divided into two parts, the first half describes Coco’s life and rise to power, her powerful friends, affairs. In this part of the book, the reader is introduced to multiple high society figures that at one point or another were a big part of Chanel’s life. Not knowing much about Coco’s life in general, this book has shed lite on her business and love lives. It’s short, well detailed. I’ve learned many interesting facts about the days of the Chanel empire and the designer herself.

The second part of the novel discusses the life of Coco and her circle of friends during the war, their fall of power, and struggles. The novel covers many lives of famous and non-famous people, as a comparison between the social classes and roles it played in their survival.

The novel was well written, with many interesting facts. I found myself enjoying the life of Riviera prior to WWII as it had more new info for me rather than the years of the war. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press publisher for a free and advanced copy of the book.

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