Chasing Mindy Guest Post: Paris Travel Diary

Last week, author Carla de Guzman shared her romanceclass origins and today, she’s here on the blog to share the location inspiration for her latest title Chasing Mindy. Paris is a city that’s close to my own heart and I love that Carla chose to set her book there. Check out what she has to say about this glorious city in relation to her book!

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Paris Travel Diary by Carla de Guzman

One of my favorite things about writing Chasing Mindy was being able to re-write my experience of Paris. It’s one of those places that you never, ever, ever think you’ll be able to visit. You dream about it and hear about it, but you can’t really picture yourself there until you’re actually there. Mindy’s awe over the things she saw was very much my own.

Honestly guys, this city though. It’s so pretty you want to hug it.

For my little stint here on Chachic’s Book Nook, I’m sharing my photos and a little travel diary of the places Mindy and Javier visited!

Chasing Mindy - Rue de Depart

Rue de Depart
Mindy’s first scene ever in Paris is here–on a street corner, looking at the golden light and cursing the city for being just so gosh darn perfect. And how could she not, if she was looking at this? This is the corner not too far from our hotel in Montparnasse. It’s my phone’s wallpaper!

Chasing Mindy - Metro

Paris Metro
Call me a nerd, but I like the Paris Metro stations–they’re all so different, and how fancy is it that the ads have a pretty sienna tile surrounding it? It even has Napoleon’s crest on top of each one.

Chasing Mindy - Shakespeare and Co

Shakespeare and Co.
You see this a lot in pictures, and I never realized it was just across the Notre Dame until someone pointed it out like, oh no big deal, there it is! The inside is crammed with books to browse, and there was a bunch of lavender growing in front of the store so it smelled so nice. I realized later on that there are lots of Shakespeare and Co. bookstores in Europe, but there’s just something special about that green awning!

Chasing Mindy - Square Rene Vivani

Square Rene Vivani
Javi makes Mindy frog march over to the park next to Shakespeare and Co where they sit and have their coffee. Look at that view of the Notre Dame! With the rose arch and everything. There were quite a few painters taking a rest there, and couples falling asleep on the benches–which is totally normal. This place had to appear in the book, just because of the roses!

Chasing Mindy - Saint Chapelle

Saint Chapelle
This church! You don’t run out of churches in Paris, but this one is lovely! I experienced it exactly the same way Mindy did, where she runs up the smallest staircase, thinking that this was a scam, (and we had to line up for an hour!) only to find this gorgeous illusion of light on top. I believe I used the words ‘HOLY CRAP’ in my travel diary at the time.

Chasing Mindy - Giverny

Giverny
When I visited Paris for the first time, I became a little obsessed with the Impressionists. I looked up their works and read up on their history, which is why I knew that the next time we went to Paris, I had to make sure we went to Monet’s home in Giverny. Imagine a garden of flowers and multiply it by like, a thousand. I could barely breathe I was so happy.

Chasing Mindy - Olympia

Olympia by Manet
Sorry for the sudden nudity, but this girl is my goddess, okay. Manet painted one of his favorite muses totally naked. I could go into detail of why he painted it and why this painting was one of the most controversial of his time (someone stop me!), but I settled for putting it in the book, for now.

Chasing Mindy - Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower
An excerpt from my travel diary, ‘Damn it, Eiffel Tower, I thought I was over you!’ The perfect last thing to do in Paris is to buy some food, sit in the Trocadero Garden and wait for the tower to light up. You half-expect there to be music. Look at it. So pretty.

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Chasing MindyBook Description:
Mindy and Javier are not friends, okay.

Despite their mothers’ matchmaking, they’ve managed to stay out of each other’s way. Until Mindy goes to Paris for a week, and her mother insists she meet up with Javier. He’s in Paris to study, really looking forward to see you, she says. Watch over each other.

No thanks. Javier is taciturn and boring, Mindy is dramatic and has a tendency to yell at things when her eight siblings are brought up. It’s not a great combination.

But things start to look a little different under the Paris lights, and what felt like hate feels a lot closer to love.

Influenced by a Book: Chocolat Chaud et Macarons

As a reader, there have been times when something that I read in a book has influenced some of my actions. Influenced by a Book is a feature that lets me share experiences like that. In a previous post, I talked about how A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand influenced me to give lavender oil a try. Today’s post is also inspired by another Laura Florand book, The Chocolate Kiss. The female MC of the book has a special way of making chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) while the male MC is renowned for his macaron creations.

My friends Kim and Mina are co-moderating a discussion of Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. While I haven’t reread any of the books recently, I’m being reminded of them because of the discussion threads. So when I had an emotionally draining and stressful work day, I chose to drown my sorrows in Angelina’s chocolat chaud and macarons:

Angelina - chocolat chaud and macarons

Angelina - chocolat chaud and macarons 2

OMG this chocolat chaud was super thick. It’s rich enough for me to marry! I could have had it just by itself for dessert. But I’m a macaron fan so I went ahead and ordered a set that included dark chocolate, chestnut, lemon and chocolate passionfruit. I finished all of these by myself and yes, I did feel slightly better about my day after this particular indulgence. Just one more work day to get through before the weekend is here.

What about you, have you done anything lately based on something you’ve read in a book?

Back in Singapore

I’m baaack! I arrived in Singapore last Sunday afternoon and went straight back to work on Monday. Thank you for all your lovely messages in my previous post, I wasn’t able to reply to them because I was already on my way to Europe when that post was published. We had a bit of a rocky start when we missed our connecting flight and our baggage was delayed by a day but overall, it was an amazing trip. The places we visited were beautiful and I was lucky enough to meet one of my online bookish friends, Estara, in person! Will try to do a write up of that day in another post.

Europe 2015 - Kindle

I took advantage of the flights and train travel to read and picked up the following titles:

Love in a Small Town by Zoe York (recommended by Michelle)
Fall Hard by Zoe York
Midnight Captive by Elle Kennedy
Forgotten Suns by Judith Tarr (recommended by Estara, still reading)

Movies watched (on the plane):
Guardians of the Galaxy
Jupiter Ascending

That’s definitely an improvement compared to last year’s trip when I was only able to read one book. When we missed our flight and we were stuck for several hours in the airport in Paris, we had an Amour et Chocolat moment by hanging out at Laduree, where I also kept myself busy by writing postcards to friends. The second picture can reference another Laura Florand series, La Vie en Roses, because we spent some time choosing fragrances in the French artisan perfume store Fragonard.

Europe 2015 - CDG Laduree Europe 2015 - CDG Fragonard

See how we try to relate most things to books? That’s just how book nerds roll. I’m planning to do a write up of each of the cities we visited, just like I did last year but I still need to find time to do all of that. It’s always difficult to get back in the swing of things when your brain is still on vacation mode. I’ve kept my Instagram account fairly updated in case you guys want to see what I was up to. That’s all for now, will check back in again soon.

Isla and the Happily Ever by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After was one of my highly anticipated releases for this year since I really enjoyed reading both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. Those titles are quite a mouthful, aren’t they? I kept seeing other bloggers post pictures of their review copies of Isla and this just made me want to read the book more. Also, I’m still bummed that Stephanie Perkins visited Manila and I wasn’t able to attend the event (so many authors have visited the Philippines since I moved to Singapore). I was so excited when I finally got a copy of Isla so of course, I read it as soon as I could.

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

I really enjoyed reading Isla and the Happily Ever After and I think I like it just as much or maybe even a bit more than Anna and the French Kiss. Isla and Josh are both great characters. I liked how there’s so much more to them that what was previously shown in the first book. I found it interesting that Isla is named after an island because “isla” is the Filipino word for island (pronounced is-lah instead of eye-lah though). I always think it’s awesome when of the characters in the book I’m reading is a reader herself. I could understand Isla’s thirst for adventure and how she satisfies that thirst by reading books. Also, how cute is it that Isla and Josh bonded over Joann Sfar? They made me want to read his graphic novels even though I’m not much of a graphic novel reader. I could really relate to Isla and her insecurities about not having a clue about what she wants to do in terms of her career – heck, I’m a decade older than her and I’m still figuring things out. I could also understand how she’s so forgiving of others but so hard on herself, to the point where she questions whether she’s worthy of being loved. I loved her friendship with Kurt and how she had to learn how to balance having a guy best friend with having a boyfriend. On a counterpoint to Isla’s ambiguity, Josh is very passionate about his art and he knows that he wants to pursue a degree that would enable him to focus on this field. My artistic talent is limited to stick figures so I’m always in awe of artists. I enjoyed reading about Josh and his art and would have loved to see samples of them if that was possible.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is partially set in New York, Paris and Barcelona. I’ve never been to New York so I can’t really say anything about the scenes set there. But having read Laura Florand’s vivid and detailed descriptions of Paris, I feel like Stephanie Perkins’ imagery pales in comparison. Isla mentions that she’s comfortable enough in Paris for it to feel like home but I don’t think she was able to portray that in a believable way. I did love the Barcelona scenes since they were from the perspective of tourists, with both Josh and Isla visiting the city for the first time. It reminded me of my own trip there earlier this year because we visited the same tourist spots, mostly the sites of Gaudi’s work.

I think Stephanie Perkins excels in portraying realistic teenage romance. She gets how awkward it is to have a serious crush on someone. And how tentative things are at the start when the two parties realize that what they feel might be mutual and there’s just all this tension between Isla and Josh. Then it transforms into a new-found relationship that makes both of them giddy with happiness. Even the issues that they they had to deal with felt authentic. I was really rooting for them and the way they changed and matured throughout the course of the novel was satisfying. I had so much fun reading this book and would recommend it to any fan of YA contemporary.

Here are some pictures from my Barcelona trip that are related to the book. Casa Batllo is probably my favorite Gaudi-designed house:
Barcelona - Casa Batllo Barcelona - Casa Batllo (2)

The awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia:
Barcelona - Sagrada Familia1 Barcelona - Sagrada Familia

On top of the world a.k.a. the view of Barcelona from Parc Guell:
Barcelona 2014 - view from Parc Guell

Amour et Florand: A Strong Sense of Place

Amour et Florand

Thank you to everyone who participated in Amour et Florand, through guest posts, posts in your own blogs or comments. Merci beaucoup! The past few days have been pretty hectic for me so I still need to catch up on replying to comments. I know the blog event is finished but I had this post in mind and I couldn’t let it go, I hope the rest of you don’t mind that I’m posting it a few days late.

There are many reasons to love Laura Florand’s novels. Some of them have been discussed in detail in the other Amour et Florand guest posts. You can’t really go wrong with the combination of France, chocolate and hot guys, right? For this post, I want to focus on the strong sense of place in her writing. In her guest post for last year’s EWein Special Ops, Elizabeth Wein talked about how she loves books that have a strong sense of place. Here’s a snippet of what she said:

The world almost becomes a character in the novel itself. Setting shouldn’t just be there as a backdrop; a good sense of place will make a setting, fictionally speaking, into a living, breathing organism like our own planet, and the author’s love for and familiarity with the world of his or her creation guides us through the unfamiliar landscape like a virtual map.

EWein was actually talking about fantasy worlds when she wrote that bit but I think it’s applicable to the settings in Laura’s books: Paris for her Amour et Chocolat novels and Grasse for her La Vie en Roses series. Laura vividly describes these places to the point where you feel like you had a mini-vacation in France after reading her books. The sights, the scents and the sounds – all of these just pop out of the page to make the reader feel like you’re right there with the characters. I love how she describes the cobblestone streets, the old buildings and the bridges of Paris as well as the fountains and plazas or public squares in Provence. I know that she travels to France on a regular basis but even just by reading her books, I could tell that she’s done her research. In fact, she knows her stuff so well that you can use her books as guides when you travel to France. I knew France was famous for its pastries and desserts but I don’t think I would have known that chocolate was such a big deal there if I hadn’t read the Amour et Florand books. I was also not aware that Grasse is the perfume capital of the world until it was described as such in Laura’s writing. For someone who loves both chocolate and perfumes, I feel like I know a little more about these because of Laura’s novels.

One of my favorite quotes from The Chocolate Touch is this:

“Paris was a good place to fight your demons. The streets were so tempting to explore, the gritty realism of their dirt and crowds tempered by that element of fairytale inherent to the city.”

Because I like how Laura describes Paris and Grasse as places that are beautiful and charming, sometimes even magical, but she balances that with realism. We see it in the way her heroines feel intimidated by the city, and in how they become homesick or lonely but are too scared to go out and explore unknown places by themselves. Cade feels like this and is also annoyed with how sleazy men keep trying to hit on her because she’s a woman walking around by herself. Magalie feels smaller and less like herself the farther she ventures out of her island, even though she armors herself with fashionable clothes. Allegra falls in love with Grasse when she first encounters it but then becomes miserable as winter sets in and she doesn’t have the warmth of her family to wrap herself in. Summer hates Paris, especially the Eiffel Tower, and wouldn’t even visit the city if she wasn’t being forced by her parents. I feel like these descriptions and situations make the setting feel even more authentic because even the most beautiful place will still have its imperfections.

I’m very grateful that I got to go to France last April (first ever trip to Europe!) and I hope everyone who has ever dreamed of going there will get the chance to visit. I have shared pictures from my recent trip in my Snapshot From a Book posts here and here but to wrap up Amour et Florand, I want to share more shots that made me think of Laura’s books.

In my first few hours in Paris, I was able to visit a chocolatier:
Chachic in front of Paris chocolatier chocolatier in Paris

Laduree has branches in Singapore but not in Manila so we still dropped by their Paris store:
Laduree in Paris

I saw the Meilleur Ouvrier de France sign and told my friends we should go in because according to the Amour et Chocolat books, this shop will have excellent products. I thought their macarons were better than Laduree’s:
Georges Larnicol Georges Larnicol macarons

Not quite like Magalie’s but this a chocolat chaud that I ordered from one of the restaurants in Paris (no, I didn’t feel any different after drinking it):
chocolat chaud

The Eiffel Tower, of course:
Paris - Eiffel1 Paris - Eiffel2

Cobblestone streets of Montmartre:
Lomo - Montmartre

Gare de Lyon, the train station where Magalie meets her mother, who is traveling from Ithaca, New York back to Provence:
Gare de Lyon lomo

We visited Aix-en-Provence in the South of France and we really wanted to visit Grasse from there but unfortunately, we weren’t able to do so. The way Laura describes Grasse in her La Vie en Roses books reminded me a bit of Aix so I thought I would share some of my Aix pictures.

Fountains in Aix:
Lomo Aix Rotonde
Aix-en-Provence - four dolphins fountain Aix-en-Provence - fountain at night

Santons, terracotta nativity scene figurines, which were mentioned in A Rose in Winter:
Aix-en-Provence - santons

Lavender and roses:
Aix-en-Provence - lavender Aix-en-Provence - roses

Artisan perfumes made in Grasse:
Aix - perfumes from Grasse

Hope you all have fun browsing through these pictures!

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Links to Amour et Florand posts:
How did you discover Laura’s books?
Guest post from Michelle of See Michelle Read: Super Scholarly Thesis on The Addictive Properties of The Amour et Chocolat Series
Guest post from Holly of Book Harbinger: The Chocolat Awards
Guest post from Rachel Neumeier: Making Great Characterization Look Easy
Guest post from Angie of Angieville
Guest post from Laura Florand
Guest post from Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile: My Gateway to Contemporary Romance
Guest post from Maureen of By Singing Light
Guest post from Mandi of Smexy Books
Guest post from Nalini Singh: My first Laura Florand book (or how Laura Florand ate my weekend)

Amour et Florand posts in other blogs:
Genre Hopping: Five Things I love About Laura Florand’s Books
Pakwanstripes: Laura and the Five Senses
Pakwanstripes: Learning from Turning Up The Heat
Girl meets Books: 10 Things I Love About Laura Florand’s Books

Amour et Florand: Guest Post from Laura Florand

Bonjour! Today, we have a very special guest post for Amour et Florand as Laura Florand herself shares some thoughts about her writing.

Yay, Laura! *claps enthusiastically*

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Exploring the streets of the towns around Grasse leads here, in Cagnes (Haut de Cagnes), France.

Exploring the streets of the towns around Grasse leads here, in Cagnes (Haut de Cagnes), France. This street, with its thick vine, will become the inspiration for the street on which Colette Delatour’s house is found, in the Vie en Roses series.

I think anyone who reads my work can tell that I am deeply compelled by the powerful sensuality of setting. The sound of bees buzzing densely around you as you crouch amid lavender, the way the sprigs of it gently scratch their scent against your skin. The silk of petals as you press your thumb into a rose to harvest it, and the prick of a thorn if you’re careless. The scent of sun against stone and jasmine, and the subtle chatter of dried leaves over cobblestones in the streets of some old Provençal town, as if the wind is gossiping about you as you climb toward some chapel or castle set on the heights.

These are the settings of the Vie en Roses series, a setting that defiantly eludes capture. All words fail here. How do you describe the harvest of a valley full of roses? Rose petals are actually softer than silk, their scent sweeter and fresher than sweetness, and in any case, all words like “silk”, “sweet” have been worn weak with overuse. So what is a writer to do? This is the challenge and joy of writing about such vivid worlds: that eternal, Sisyphian effort to do justice to their vividness on the printed page.

The books in La Vie en Roses focus around a family in Grasse in the south of France, a family whose role in the fragrance industry of that region dates back to the Renaissance. In the Amour et Chocolat series, on the other hand, I have been fascinated by another profession obsessed with the senses: the top chocolatiers and pastry chefs of Paris. These amazing, incredibly hard-working, passionate, perfectionist chefs who devote their whole being to creating that most perfect, magical dessert or chocolate that will melt in someone else’s mouth, give someone else pleasure.

Laura with chocolatier Michael Chaudun

Laura with chocolatier Michael Chaudun

Maybe I am so fascinated by them because they do so well something I, with words, would like to do: capture the power of the senses. One small, perfect chocolate is, in itself, the quintessence of sensuality. And here, too, the setting helps compel me: that rich setting of chocolate, pastry, intense work, and, of course, one step outside the laboratoire, the streets of Paris. If you cannot walk down the Seine at night and be utterly enraptured by the fact that you are alive to experience this, then you are immune to all magic.

People often ask me why I write about France. Sometimes I say, tongue in cheek, that the culture appropriated me. As a student planning her dissertation in Francophone literature, with a focus on French Polynesia, I came to Paris with some reticence, as a graduate assistant with my university’s study abroad program. I initially was underwhelmed by Paris — compared to warm and energetic Madrid, in which I had spent the semester before, or Tahiti, where I had spent a year on a Fulbright Grant. In Paris that first year, it rained all the time and the very bad bet of an ex-boyfriend I had left behind found my number and kept calling me at three in the morning, and it was all just very miserable.

But Paris caught me. France caught me. I met my husband there. He took me out inline skating on the Seine night after night and taught me to fall in love with his city, in all its fascination and frustration. And his huge, effervescent family wrapped us up in their embrace, welcoming and fun but very much taking over my whole life as I had known it, until there came a point that so little of my original self was left in me that I would struggle to recapture the English language by sitting down to write, forcing my way through the awkward syntax French kept imposing on my thoughts, until I could express myself again in my native language.

Patriarch Joseph Mul with in his fields of roses, near Grasse, France. Joseph Mul grows the roses and jasmine used in Chanel’s perfumes, including the famous N. 5.

Patriarch Joseph Mul with in his fields of roses, near Grasse, France. Joseph Mul grows the roses and jasmine used in Chanel’s perfumes, including the famous N. 5.

So writing became a way of possessing my own experience, if you will — of everything that was so powerful and magical and, yes, difficult about that experience. I had always written — I’ve been writing every day since I was nine years old, determined to “be a writer”—but once when I was a teenager, my grandfather told me to “go live my life first and then write about it”. And I guess I had finally done that.

I still teach, and one thing I try to give my students is the same thing I try go give my readers: the world is a huge, rich place, and I hope you’ll go after it with everything in you. Sink into experiences. (And no, these don’t have to be expensive experiences, although I do love travel and believe strongly in its value and in the value of learning at least one other language. But you can take a walk in your nearest woods and sink into experiences, just by remembering to touch the bark on the trees sometimes. You can eat a clementine and sink into the experience, just by squeezing the peel to release the oils.)

Enrobeuse at Jacques Genin

Enrobeuse at Jacques Genin

I once in a while receive emails from a rare reader who is angry — really, virulently angry — that I might write about something outside small town America. I grew up in a small town myself, and small towns can be as rich in experience as anywhere else (Sarah Addison Allen, for example, vividly evokes small towns at an all-five-senses level). But that someone should think you should close off all other options makes me really, really sad.

But what makes me really happy is when I hear from readers who have, after reading these books, decided to take that trip to France they’ve been dreaming of, or try that basil-infused gourmet chocolate, or just take whatever action expands your life and experience.

You encourage me to expand my life and experience. To brave anticipated rejection from one of the world’s best chocolatiers and maneuver myself into his laboratoire, to chat with people in the streets of Grasse as I hunt down access to rose growers and perfumers, to explore new places and tastes and textures, new sources of story.

So thank you, all of you, for that. For keeping me reminded not to shrink-wrap my own life, but to keep all that space open to stretch out my arms, take deep breaths of lavender, go taste some chocolate… and I hope write about it in a way that encourages you to do so, too.

Thanks so much for reading. And thank you, Chachic, for doing me the wonderful honor of this week, and to all of you who have participated in it. I am very, very honored and thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

A fountain entirely surrounded by jasmine becomes the setting for a kiss, in The Chocolate Rose. While the village of Sainte-Mère is a deliberately fictional invention which blurs elements of several small towns in this area, in real life, this fountain is in Mougins, France.

A fountain entirely surrounded by jasmine becomes the setting for a kiss, in The Chocolate Rose. While the village of Sainte-Mère is a deliberately fictional invention which blurs elements of several small towns in this area, in real life, this fountain is in Mougins, France.

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Merci, Laura! This is a beautiful. It has been my pleasure to organize Amour et Florand to celebrate your work. I really think your writing captures the power of the senses and yes, it also encourages readers to sink into experiences. Just look at how many readers had to run and buy chocolates while reading your books. 🙂

Amour et Florand

Snapshot From a Book: The Chocolate Touch

Paris is such a photogenic city. I’m so glad I decided to take a lomo camera with me because some of the results are just lovely. I feel like I keep going on and on and Paris and Laura Florand’s novels but I can’t help it – her writing vividly describes the city. The pictures just go perfectly with her words.

Snippets from The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand:

Lomo - Paris Seine

“He didn’t talk, but a man who had Paris in the springtime didn’t need to talk. Better not. Better just to concentrate on the cool breeze off the river, stirring his shaggy black hair, the bridges that stretched away through the centuries, that fresh young green on the trees along the quays. Evening was falling later and later. The sun was only starting to set now, easy blurred shades of pink and gold and gray through low strips of clouds. The sky above them was blue, clear, but blurring toward gray. Half the world looked in love, couples strolling hand in hand along the Seine. At the edge of that sunset, in the west, far away along the river that simmered with pink and gold, the Eiffel Tower rose, gentled by the low haze.”

Lomo - Paris bridge

Lomo - Paris bridge sunset

“Paris was a good place to fight your demons. The streets were so tempting to explore, the gritty realism of their dirt and crowds tempered by that element of fairytale inherent to the city.”

Lomo - Paris crowds

Lomo - Paris flare

All over Paris
April 2014
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia, Kodak Elitechrome, Lomo Redscale

Snapshot From a Book: The Chocolate Thief

You know how sometimes you take a picture that perfectly describes a snippet from a book that you’ve read? I love it when that happens. While I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to match the shots that I take with the books that I read, I wanted to share these moments on the blog. When I went to Europe last month, I brought along my Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim film camera with me and was able to go through a couple of rolls. I received the results last Friday. I think some of them turned out great while some left me wondering what the hell was I trying to achieve while taking those pictures. One can never really predict the results when shooting lomo. I guess it’s not surprising that some of these pictures made me think of Laura Florand’s books.

From The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand:

“She liked to just walk all over the city. She really never saw a cobblestone street or an old building she didn’t like.”

Lomo - Montmartre

Lomo - Montmartre

Montmartre, Paris
April 2014
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia

I think it’s fitting that both of these pictures have couples in them, perfect for a Laura Florand romance. 🙂

Europe 2014: Paris Update

Bonjour! There are so many things that I want to share about my first time in Europe, I don’t even know where to start. I thought I would do an update of each city that we visited. These will be picture-heavy posts, mostly from my Instagram account. It’s funny because at the end of each day, I would spend time uploading pictures (staying up late to do so) because I wanted to write captions while everything was still fresh in my mind. To make these travel posts a little more book-themed, I thought it would be a good idea to include a list of books I’ve read/plan to read set in the cities we visited.

Books I’ve read set in Paris:
Amour et Chocolat series by Laura Florand – All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate, The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss, The Chocolate Rose, The Chocolate Touch, The Chocolate Heart, The Chocolate Temptation
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Books set in Paris that are in my TBR pile:
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

Ahh, Paris. I feel like Paris will always have a special place in my heart since it was the first European city that I visited. It’s such a beautiful city, oozing with its own charm – even a normal street or building looked wonderful in my eyes. I was surprised at how well-kept the old structures are – the bridges, the palaces, the museums, etc. We don’t really have things like that in the Philippines. But then again, we probably get more natural calamities like typhoons and earthquakes back home. Moving on to the pictures…

Here’s the iconic Eiffel Tower – before and after dinner shots, with the latter captioned by my friend as “Does the moonlight shine on Paris?”

Paris - Eiffel1 Paris - Eiffel2

Sacré-Coeur and around the Montmartre area:

Paris - Sacre Coeur Paris - view from Sacre Coeur Paris - Montmartre Paris - carousel

Arc de triomphe and Champs Elysee:

Paris - Arc de triomphe Paris - Champs Elysee2

The opulence of the Palace of Versailles:

Paris - Versailles1 Paris - Versailles2 Paris - Versailles3 Paris - Versailles4

Museums Orsay and Louvre – the former was previously a train station while the latter was a palace:

Paris - Orsay Paris - Louvre

Notre Dame and Point Zero, as mentioned in Anna and the French Kiss:

Paris - Notre Dame Paris - Point Zero

The bookstore Shakespeare and Company – several friends who knew I was in Paris kept saying that I should visit this place. What’s great is that all five of us ended up buying something from this bookstore:

Paris - Shakespeare and Company Paris - Shakespeare and Company2 Paris - Shakespeare and Company3 Paris - Shakespeare and Company4

Hope you had fun going through these pictures. They were all taken using my phone camera and some filters were applied in Instagram. If you know of any books set in Paris that you think I’ll enjoy reading, please feel free to recommend them!

I’m Off to Experience Life as a Laura Florand Heroine

Eiffel at Night

Photo from my friend who was in Paris recently.

Yes, I am going to the city of the Amour et Chocolat novels, Anna and the French Kiss and Just One Day! I’ve always dreamed of going to Paris and I still can’t believe that I will be able to do so this coming weekend. This is going to be my first time in Europe! I’m flying from Singapore (with a stopover in Dubai) and I’m meeting friends who will be flying from Manila. I’m leaving tonight and I’ll be back on the 27th. We will be going to Paris, Barcelona, Aix en Provence and Milan. It’s taken us months to plan for this trip, what with the visa application and everything else. I know that it’s a once in a lifetime kind of experience (although of course, keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to come back to Europe and hopefully visit other countries) so I am super excited for this trip.

I’m writing this post to let you all know why you wouldn’t be seeing any new posts on the blog in the coming two weeks. I’ll post an update about the trip (including pictures) when I get back. I will be bringing my Kindle with me because I’ll probably be able to do a lot of reading while waiting in airports and train stations and in the flights and train rides. However, I won’t be able to blog since I’m not bringing a laptop with me.

See you all when I get back!