Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Book review of Palm Trees in the Pyrenees by Elly Grant

 
French Village Diaries Book review Palm Trees in The Pyrenees Elly Grant
Palm Trees in the Pyrenees by Elly Grant

Palm Trees in the Pyrenees

A rookie cop, a dash of mysterious death, and a heap of suspicion – as the heat rises, lethal tensions boil over in the Pyrenees.
Unappreciated, unnoticed, and passed over for promotion, thirty-year-old Danielle’s fledgling career in law enforcement is going nowhere – until the unexpected death of a hated Englishman turns her small town upside down.
Set in the idyllic south of France, Palm Trees in the Pyreneesis the first whodunit novel in Elly Grant's thrilling murder mystery series. Against a background of prejudice, jealousy, and greed, Danielle pieces together the sparse clues of a fractured homicide. But will she find enough evidence to solve the case – and get the recognition she deserves?
To find out, get your copy of ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ – right now.
 
French Village Diaries Book review Palm Trees in The Pyrenees Elly Grant
Blog Tour Palm Trees in the Pyrenees by Elly Grant

My review 

This short, humorous novel set in a small Pyrenean mountain town is a great fun, easy read.

Our narrator is Danielle, single, in her thirties and despite being the town’s only law enforcement officer, she is almost an invisible presence to the other residents and overlooked for promotion by her superiors. One day, something shifts, and everything begins to change for Danielle. The day, coincidently, that Steven, a wealthy British estate agent, falls to his death from a balcony.

All of a sudden, everyone is keen to speak to Danielle and informally point the finger of suspicion at someone else. Everyone foreign, that is! We follow Danielle as she picks her way through the gossip and evidence to determine exactly what did happen on the balcony that morning. Along the way we meet the eccentric foreigners who, with varying degrees of success, have made themselves at home in the town, we learn exactly what Danielle thinks of them all and we watch her life change for the better.

I really enjoyed reading this and trying to work out who was guilty and who wasn’t. I’m certainly looking forward to reading more from Elly Grant.

Palm Trees in the Pyrenees and the other books in the series are available in ebook format and links to Amazon can be found below. 
 
French Village Diaries Book review Palm Trees in The Pyrenees Elly Grant
Blog Tour Palm Trees in the Pyrenees by Elly Grant

Purchase Links 



Palm Trees in the Pyreness will be FREE on  16th– 20thSept 2019

French Village Diaries Book review Palm Trees in The Pyrenees Elly Grant
Elly Grant

Author Bio 

Hi, my name is Elly Grant and I like to kill people. I use a variety of methods. Some I drop from a great height, others I drown, but I've nothing against suffocation, poisoning or simply battering a person to death. As long as it grabs my reader's attention, I'm satisfied.

French Village Diaries Book review Palm Trees in The Pyrenees Elly Grant
The Pyrenees ©EllyGrant

I've written several novels and short stories. My first novel, 'Palm Trees in the Pyrenees' is set in a small town in France. It is the first book of my ‘Death in the Pyrenees series and they are all published by Creativia. The others in the series are, 'Grass Grows in the Pyrenees’, ’Red Light in the Pyrenees’, ’Dead End in the Pyrenees', 'Deadly Degrees in the Pyrenees' and ‘Hanging Around in the Pyrenees’. Creativia has also published my grittier crime novels set in Glasgow, 'The Unravelling of Thomas Malone' and 'The Coming of the Lord' as well as my thriller, ‘Death at Presley Park’.  Also published are my Romance 'Never Ever Leave Me, as well as a collaboration on the quirky black comedy 'But Billy Can't Fly' and short stories called 'Twists and Turns'. 


French Village Diaries Book review Palm Trees in The Pyrenees Elly Grant
Amelie market ©EllyGrant

As I live much of the year in a small French town in the Eastern Pyrenees, I get inspiration from the way of life and the colourful characters I come across. I don't have to search very hard to find things to write about and living in the most prolific wine producing region in France makes the task so much more delightful.

When I first arrived in this region I was lulled by the gentle pace of life, the friendliness of the people and the simple charm of the place. But dig below the surface and, like people and places the world over, the truth begins to emerge. Petty squabbles, prejudice, jealousy and greed are all there waiting to be discovered. Oh, and what joy in that discovery. So, as I sit in a café, or stroll by the riverside, or walk high into the mountains in the sunshine, I greet everyone I meet with a smile and a 'Bonjour' and, being a friendly place, they return the greeting. I people-watch as I sip my wine or when I go to buy my baguette. I discover quirkiness and quaintness around every corner. I try to imagine whether the subjects of my scrutiny are nice or nasty and, once I've decided, some of those unsuspecting people, a very select few, I kill.


French Village Diaries Book review Palm Trees in The Pyrenees Elly Grant
Ceret market ©EllyGrant

Perhaps you will visit my town one day. Perhaps you will sit near me in a café or return my smile as I walk past you in the street. Perhaps you will hold my interest for a while, and maybe, just maybe, you will be my next victim. But don't concern yourself too much, because, at least for the time being, I always manage to confine my murderous ways to paper.

Read books from the 'Death in the Pyrenees' series, enter my small French town and meet some of the people who live there ----- and die there.

Alternatively read about life on some of the hardened streets of Glasgow or for something different try my other books and short stories.

Social Media Links  


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Book review of A Paris Fairy Tale by Marie Laval

French Village Diaries book review A Paris Fairy Tale Marie Laval
A Paris Fairy Tale Marie Laval

A Paris Fairy Tale
Is Paris the city of happily ever afters?

Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine. 

As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antiques dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other. 

But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters? 


French Village Diaries book review A Paris Fairy Tale Marie Laval
Blog Tour for A Paris Fairy Tale by Marie Laval

My review 
Having previously enjoyed Marie’s A Spell in Provence, I was looking forward to being back inside one of her novels, especially as I love the idea of romance blossoming in Paris.

For Cedric and Aurora life is not about fairy tales, it is about work, shutting out the past and discovering the truth at all costs. 

Cedric Castel is no Prince Charming. He is rude and invasive; a journalist out to get information and a story before anything else. However, the more I got to know him as the story unfurled, the more he began to charm me. His charity work, his campaigning for the underdog and his troubled past all opened up a soft spot for him in my heart and I wasn’t the only one. Aurora Black felt it too. Tough and ice cold on the outside, Aurora is no ordinary heroine waiting for her Knight in shining armour to rescue her. Happier in her field of expertise (ancient illustrated manuscripts) than socialising with others, her knowledge and integrity are about to be put to the test with her contract at a Paris auction house. The manuscripts might come to life through her eyes and fingers, but what if the truth behind the one she is in Paris to study is not quite all it first seemed? Her journey of discovery will give her more than the answers she bargained for.

One of the things I loved about this book is that as well as giving us all the ingredients for a fairy tale set in Paris, Marie also plays with the fairy tale theme throughout the book. The references made to some of the more significant fairy tale moments were great fun. She also gives us passion, for their causes (amongst other things), the magic of music and the possibility of romance, all perfectly balanced with troubled childhoods, heartbreak and dealings with unscrupulous money launderers and traffickers. The more I read, the more entwined in the story I became and the more I wanted a happy-ever-after ending.

A Paris Fairy Tale is published by Choc Lit and available in ebook format. Links to Amazon can be found below. You can also read Marie’s Lazy Sunday in France guest post here, her France et Moi interview here and my review of A Spell in Provence here.

Purchase Links

UK: 


US 


French Village Diaries book review A Paris Fairy Tale Marie Laval
Marie Laval
About the author
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire with her family. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher and in her spare time she loves writing romance and dreaming about romantic heroes. She writes both historical and contemporary romance. Her historical romance The Lion’s Embrace won the Gold Medal at the Global Ebook Awards 2015 (category Historical Romance), and best-selling Little Pink Taxi was her debut romantic comedy novel with Choc Lit. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

Social Media Links
French Village Diaries book review A Paris Fairy Tale Marie Laval
Enter the giveaway to win this I Love Paris Keyring

Giveaway to Win a 'I love Paris' Keyring, and a medieval necklace (handmade from a copy of an illuminated manuscript) -  UK Only

French Village Diaries book review A Paris Fairy Tale Marie Laval
Enter the giveaway to win this handmade necklace

*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Lazy Sunday in France by author Marie Laval


French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Marie Laval A Paris Fairy Tale
A Paris Fairy Tale Marie Laval

Welcome to another Lazy Sunday in France where author Marie Laval is taking us to the Auvergne for the day. Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire with her family. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher and in her spare time she loves writing romance and dreaming about romantic heroes. 
She writes both historical and contemporary romance. Her historical romance The Lion’s Embrace won the Gold Medal at the Global Ebook Awards 2015 (category Historical Romance), and best-selling Little Pink Taxi was her debut romantic comedy novel with Choc Lit. 
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!
Her latest romantic novel  A PARIS FAIRY TALE will be released on July 23rd and available as a ebook and audiobook on Amazon and various other platforms. 
You can read my review of her novel A Spell in Provence here and her France et Moi interview here.
You can find out more about Marie on Facebook or Twitter.You can also find on Pinterest the many beautiful photos of Paris and illuminated manuscripts which inspired the writing of A Paris Fairy Tale.

A Lazy Sunday in Auvergne By Marie Laval


Two years ago I spent a wonderful holiday in La Crotte, a tiny hamlet in the Auvergne region, where my middle sister bought a ramshackle, rundown house which used to be a sheep fold. Whilst slowly doing the house up, she has learnt to live with the local wildlife (a family of dormouses  - of should it be dormice?) and insects (a bee colony in her loft one summer). She frequently sees boars and foxes around, and last winter, the police warned everybody not to leave their dogs or little children unsupervised outside as wolves have been sighted in the vicinity – yes, wolves!
was won over by the beautiful countryside, picturesque villages and lovely chateaux (the region counts over 450, most of them private). If I could spend a lazy Sunday there again, this is what I would do…
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Marie Laval A Paris Fairy Tale
Souvigny ©Marie Laval
         I would start with a stroll in Souvigny, a quiet and unspoilt little town with winding streets lined with medieval and Renaissance houses, including the ruined former palace of the Bourbons. After a spot of shopping in the ‘Herboristerie’, I would visit the impressive Priory Church of Saint-Peter and Saint-Paul. According to a local legend, the church was built by fairies in just one night, and when a local milkmaid saw it emerge from the morning mist, she was so shocked she was instantly changed into stone. 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Marie Laval A Paris Fairy Tale
Souvigny gardens ©Marie Laval
         What I loved the most when I visited Souvigny were the priory gardens, designed according to the capitulary De Villis, edited by Charlemagne in the beginning of the 9th century, which recommended the plantation of 90 plants known for their medicinal properties in monastic and laymen's gardens. 
         The gardens are a riot of scents and colours. We found garlic, roses, tansy, common sage, mustard, marigolds, leek, carrots, parsley, muskmelon, cardoon, coriander, cucumber, tarragon, rocket, parsnip, radishes, sage, burdock, flax, mallow, chicory, lettuce, to name but a few! I would love to send time there on my lazy Sunday. You can find more information about Souvigny here.
  
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Marie Laval A Paris Fairy Tale
Montaigu-le-Blin ©Marie Laval
       The second place where I would stop on my lazy Sunday 
would be Montaigu-le-Blin, a delightful village boasting a medieval castle, several bourgeois houses (‘maisons de maître’), a tiny Roman church, and a ancient wood with two ‘magic’ stones, named God’s Font and the Devil’s Font. The village square is a listed site with over 143 chestnut, oak, lime trees, many of them dating from the early nineteenth century. 
The village also has two renowned auberges on opposite ends of the square, but as they are very expensive, I would leave Montaigu and have lunch in one of the many small restaurants which offer cheap but delicious ‘menus ouvriers’ (workmen’s menus). 
    
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Marie Laval A Paris Fairy Tale
Charlie-Cintrat ©Marie Laval
     There are so many other places worth visiting in the area, especially if, like me, you like chateaux – for example, the chateau of La Palice with its fascinating history (more information about it here) and the charming Renaissance chateau de Chareil-Cintrat, set amongst ancient vineyards which boasts unique wall paintings (more information about it here). This chateau was the inspiration for the fictional Chavigny, which features in my latest romantic novel A PARIS FAIRY TALE. 
        
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Marie Laval A Paris Fairy Tale
Market shopping ©Marie Laval
 I would definitely stop at a local outdoor market to buy fruit, pastries and crusty bread for the evening meal before returning to La Crotte and enjoying an ‘apéritif’ and the tranquillity of my sister’s garden. Although all is not always so peaceful in La Crotte… and this is why.
         The first evening of my last visit, we were having a drink in the garden when there a cacophony of honking erupted in the quiet evening.    ‘What on earth is that?’ I asked. 
My sister smiled and answered that it was the gaggle of geese who lived on her (eccentric) neighbour’s small holding nearby. ‘It’s the same every evening, you’ll get used to it,’ she said. ‘However, there’s something else you must get used to…’
‘What do you mean?’
         I didn’t have to wait long to find out. The chugging sounds of a steam train soon echoed all around us and I almost dropped my glass of rosé in shock. 
‘But you said that the train line wasn’t in use any longer,’ I said to my sister, who laughed and explained that it wasn’t a real train but a CD another neighbour played most nights to retaliate for the honking of the geese.
         ‘It’s like war,’ my sister said. ‘The neighbour puts her CD player in the garden and pushes the volume to the maximum. You’ll get used to it…’
         My sister informed me recently that the feud between her two neighbours had not yet been resolved. It is therefore safe to assume that on my lazy Sunday at her place I would be treated once again to the sounds of steam train – unless the angry neighbour picked another CD from her collection of annoying noises, such as rutting stags or Formule One racing cars (yes, she has them too). 
         However, whilst there is still daylight, I would end my lazy Sunday with a stroll down the lane to say goodnight to the donkeys who live in the nearby field, before probably enjoying another glass of rosé wine before bedtime.  
         I hope you enjoyed my lazy Sunday in the Auvergne. I cannot recommend this beautiful and unspoilt area too much.

A PARIS FAIRY TALE

Released on 23rd July.
Is Paris the city of happily ever afters?
Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine.
As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antiques dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other.
But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters? 


Friday, July 19, 2019

Book review of The Violin Maker's Daughter by Sharon Maas

French Village Diaries book review The Violin Maker's Daughter Sharon Maas
The Violin Maker's Daughter by Sharing Maas

The Violin Maker’s Daughter by Sharon Maas

Synopsis:

When the Nazis march onto the cobbled streets of Colmar on November 1st 1940, Josef, a Jewish violin maker, gathers his wife and daughters closely to him and tells them everything will be alright.

But one year later, three sharp knocks on the door at midnight turn his seventeen year old daughter Sarah’s world upside down. As the oldest child, Sarah must be the first to leave her family, to make her escape in a perilous journey across France via Paris to Poitiers. And she must hide who she is and take a new name for her own safety. For now, bilingual Sarah is no longer a French Jew but a German girl.

As she bids farewell to her beloved father and family, Sarah has hope, against all odds, that she will see them again when the war is over. But, travelling through the mountains she finds herself in terrible danger and meets Ralf, a German deserter, who risks his own life to save her.

Ralf and Sarah continue their journey together, keeping their identities secret at all cost. But when Ralf is captured, will Sarah pay the ultimate price for sharing who she really is?

A gripping and heart-breaking account of love, bravery and sacrifice during the terror of war. A story of standing up for what you believe in; even if it’s going to break your heart. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Ragged Edge of Night


French Village Diaries book review The Violin Maker's Daughter Sharon Maas
Bookouture Books-on-Tour The Violin Maker's Daughter Sharon Maas

My Review:

Sarah is a child who has led sheltered life, loved and protected by parents who have hidden the threat of war from their daughters. As Jews in Alsace, however, they can hide no more. Sarah, as the eldest, must be the first to flee, and must leave on her own. Her journey from safe house to safe house, crossing tough terrain and facing danger at every step, is a terrifying experience that often had my heart racing in fear. I felt the turmoil of her emotions as she is forced to grow up quickly, especially when Ralf, the young German soldier who risked his life for her, becomes her travelling companion to Poitiers. 

Living an uncertain life where any mistakes could cost her, or those around her, their lives, it is often her emotional immaturity that lets her down and puts her at further risk. I sometimes found this book difficult to read as I feared for Sarah and the situations she found herself in, but ultimately watching her mature and become a stronger woman was worth the heartache. 

This book is well written, with strong characters and lots of emotions. We see the worst of war; the pain and grief at parting, the violence, the collaboration and the hatred, but we also see love and the power it has to win over hate. If you enjoy historical fiction that is graphic and gritty as well as emotional, this book should be on your reading list. 

Purchase Links:




French Village Diaries book review The Violin Maker's Daughter Sharon Maas
Sharon Maas

About the author:

Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951 and educated in Guyana and England. After leaving school she worked as a staff journalist at the Guyana Graphic and the Sunday Chronicla in Georgetown.
Sharon has always had a great sense of adventure and curiosity about the world we live in, and Guyana could not hold her for long. In 1971 she set off on a year-long backpacking trip around South America.  In 1973 she travelled overland to India through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and spent two years in an Ashram in South India.


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Golden days on the bikes in the Charente-Maritime

French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
#KTTinyTourer in Brouage, Charente-Maritime

Ed has now finished uni for the summer and is back in my nest once more. This means it’s “Mum, can you drop me at …?” or “Mum can you pick me up from …?” on a regular basis, so we decided driving lessons were long overdue. With four sessions of highway code and two or three driving lessons each week, there is no let up on the study for him this summer. There is also no let up for us on the taxi service, for the moment at least.

French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
Golden fields in the marshes of the Charente-Maritime
Thursday was a golden day. The weather in the morning was not too hot, Adrian is home, Ed needed no lifts to or from anywhere and I had no meetings. We planned our escape on the bikes. The alarm was set early, a picnic was packed, our goodbyes were shouted up to Ed’s bedroom, the bikes were folded into the car and then we were off, direction Tonnay-Charente in the Charente Maritime.
 
French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
Brouage
Our drive took us through fields and vineyards where the wheat harvest was under way, the first sunflowers are in bloom and the landscape was glowing yellows, golds and greens. The cycle route then took us over the river Charente via the 1842 suspension bridge and onto a cycle path on an old railway line, fast and flat, that dropped us off by a lock in the heart of the marshlands around Brouage.
 
French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
Storks in the marshes
Our morning was then spent slowing meandering the small tracks through the waterways, stopping for each new sighting of stork, heron, egret or spoonbill. 

French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
Spoonbill
I am still in awe that sights like these can be found so close to home and it remains one of my favourite locations for a warm weather bike ride.
 
French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
Golden beer and sugary crêpes
We stopped for lunch in Brouage, a fortified village whose ramparts and turrets seem to rise from the marshland, and that is classified as one of the Plus Beaux Villages du France. Our treat for the day was crêpes and beer, the location adding considerably to the price, but worth it all the same.
 
French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
#KTTinyTourer Charent-Maritime marshlands
The afternoon took us back out into the marshes where the temperature had crept up to a tarmac-melting 35º and shade was almost impossible to find. Just south of Rochefort we began following the river Charente, past the Pont Transbordeur and finally back into Tonnay-Charente. 

French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
Stork nest in a tree

We might have felt a little hot around the edges, but it had been a superb day out on the bikes and added another 63km to my annual total. I am now so close to my 2019km challenge that I have decided to move the goal posts. Katie the Brompton, made and bought in London, will be returning to cycle the streets of the capital in August, so I feel it would be fitting if I crossed my 2019km while in London, four months earlier than planned. In the coming weeks, I still need to complete at least 50km per week to meet this challenge, but I’m determined to succeed.
 
French Village Diaries #KTTinyTourer #BromptoninFrance Brouage Charente-Maritime Cycling
Even the cows had a golden glow
Today sees the start of the Tour de France, my annual period of wearing yellow and being glued to the TV every evening. The excitement, the colours, the views of la belle France and the cows who always make an appearance on TV, make it a special time of year I always look forward to. May the sun continue to shine down on these golden days of summer and cycling.

This post has been linked to the #AllAboutFrance blog link up, see here for more details.


Lou Messugo