Sunday, July 15, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, book review of When Archie Met Rosie by Lynda Renham

#LazySundayinFrance book review When Archie Met Rosie Lynda Renham French Village Diaries
When Archie Met Rosie by Lynda Renham


Welcome to another #LazySundayinFrance and after partying in the village for the last two nights, I need a gentle, lazy day today. What could be better than the latest novel from Lynda Renham, When Archie Met Rosie, that not only has one of the prettiest covers but is also a cleverly written book.

We meet Rosie at a life-changing moment when her ordinary world is completely turned upside down. Paris, or rather the dream of Paris, becomes a little thread of hope that winds its way through some of her toughest days. As she is coming to terms with her new normal, a chance meeting with a family from a wealthier area unexpectedly leads to friendship and confidences that span generations. Archie is lonely following the death of his wife but would rather be on his own than be manipulated by his overbearing family. Meeting Rosie gives him much needed companionship and the possibility of a brighter future.

Written in the first person, with each chapter from the point of view of a different character, this book is a great glimpse into what goes on inside the heads of others. Lynda cleverly includes different ages from different backgrounds, all wanting different things from life and we learn their insecurities, regrets, hopes and dreams. She covers death, loneliness, debt and inheritance as well as family dynamic, age, affaires and virginity, but with humour too.  

I really enjoyed this book that highlights that we often don’t realise what we’ve got until it’s gone and I’m sure it’s one that will make you think, nurture your dreams of Paris and feel good inside. It would be a perfect companion to a lazy Sunday.

When Archie Met Rosie is available in ebook (currently only 99p) and paperback format and links to Amazon can be found below.

You can follow Lynda on her website, Twitter and Facebook and read all about her love of France in my interview with her here.


If you are a writer, blogger or run an independent business in France and have something you think would be ideal to be included in a future Lazy Sunday in France post, please do get in touch.

Friday, July 13, 2018

France et Moi with Lynda Renham

Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week I am talking to author Lynda Renham about what France means to her.

French Village Diaries France et Moi interview with author Lynda Renham
Lynda Renham

Lynda Renham is author to many popular romantic comedy and gripping psychological thriller novels. She lives in Oxford, UK. She has appeared on BBC radio discussion programs and is a prolific blogger, Twitter and when not writing can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook. 

Lynda lives in Oxfordshire with her second husband and cat. 

Firstly, I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say it strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?

Lynda: The language of France is beautiful. It appeals greatly to me. I only wish I could speak it myself. The most unique thing about France for me, however, is the poppy fields. That beautiful sight as the sun pours onto fields of bright red poppies. Their slender stems swaying in a gentle breeze. That is France.

2) With plenty of space and lovely scenery, France is a great place to explore. If you were to take a day off from writing were in France would you take off to?

Lynda: Provence and to the beautiful house I once stayed in there which wonderfully overlooked a field of poppies. How more perfect can it get?

3) What is your fondest memory of time spent in France?

Lynda: A wonderful week spent in the Loire Valley. It truly was a beautiful trip. We took lots of long walks through the quiet countryside. Enjoyed delicious French wine and perfectly cooked French meals. Lunch was spent in the gardens of the stone chateau we had hired, where we ate pate, cheese and olives with French bread. Unforgettable.  

4) Imagine you are sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what do you order from the waiter?

Lynda: Croissants, coffee and possibly a few macaroons. Why not?

5) Quick question; English chocolate éclair with whipped cream filling or French éclair au chocolat with crème patisserie filling?

Lynda: French éclair au chocolat with crème patisserie filling. What else. French eclairs are the best.

6) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese areyou?

Lynda: I like to think of myself as a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese. But I think others might say I’m a rich Camembert.

7) Every region in France has its own culinary specialty, do you have a favourite regional dish? 

Lynda: I’ve not experienced a great deal of French food. So, I can’t really answer that honestly.

French Village Diaries France et Moi interview with author Lynda Renham
When Archie Met Rosie by Lynda Renham

8) France gets a mention in more than one of your books, with Paris being the dream destination for Rosie in your latest novel When Archie Met Rosie. What do you think it is about Paris that makes so many of us dream of visiting? 

Lynda: Oh, it’s the romance surely! How can you not feel romantic in Paris? The beauty and exhilaration of the city must light the fire of romance in you.

9) If money and commitments were no object where in France would you like to own a property and what sort of place would it be?

Lynda: I’d love to own a property in Provence. It would be a large farmhouse with adjoining poppy fields, of course. It would have a huge lounge with a beautiful open fireplace. Many bedrooms for visitors and a beautiful chamomile lawn where one could sit and enjoy the poppy fields. I’d have a small courtyard overlooking the poppy fields with benches and tables to enjoy a nice glass of red wine.

Finally, do you have any plans to revisit France in the pages of a future project? 

Lynda: Not at the moment. I’m taking a short break. But you never know when wonderful France will feature in one of my books.

Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.

Read more from Lynda at her web page and on Twitter and Facebook

Join me back here on Sunday when I will be reviewing When Archie Met Rosie which is a real feel good read (currently only 99p) and available in ebook and paperback format, links to Amazon can be found below. 

You might also like Wedding Bels (previously released as Croissants and Jam), another of Lynda's books set in France. You can read my review here.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Book review of Taking Care of Business by J.D. De Roeck

French Village Diaries Book review Taking Care of Business by J. D. De Roeck
Taking Care of Business J.D. De Roeck

Taking Care of Business
by J. D. De Roeck

Summary:
When Paul Smith travels to the south of France for a sales conference, events conspire to drag him into a world of kidnappings, blackmail and murder.

Following a violent incident, Paul instinctively offers refuge to a girl he believes to be a vulnerable lost soul in a desperate situation, only to find that all is not as it appears. Unwittingly, he finds himself caught between competing international crime syndicates as they go to war, and two powerful Russian families as they fight for control of a vast Russian conglomerate. 

What begins as a routine business trip to Nice, turns into a journey of self-discovery that takes him to some of the most glamorous locations on the Cote d’Azur. Paul is compelled to confront each new escalating threat in turn, while his neatly ordered world spirals relentlessly out of control.

As events unfold, he is forced to challenge everything he thought he knew about himself, before finally embracing the danger and brutal violence he encounters along the way.

Can Paul get to the truth, and does he have what it takes to keep those he cares about safe, and himself alive?


Information about the Book
Title: Taking Care of Business
Author: J. D. De Roeck
Release Date: 3rdJuly 2018
Genre: Crime/Thriller
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Format: Paperback





My Review:
As soon as we met Paul I felt sad for him. His job didn’t seem to light his fire, he no longer seemed to be able to light girlfriend Sophie’s fire and when he suddenly finds himself rescuing a Russian escort girl from the corridor of his hotel in Nice, he quickly seems to become obsessed with her. From where I was sitting, things didn’t look good. Paul finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe it’s the right place at the right time) and in doing so becomes involved in the murky world of Russian hitmen, billionaires and escort girls. But the Paul at the beginning of the book is not the same Paul as the one at the end.

To begin with we see very little except Paul’s hotel room and the bizarre things that unfold within, coupled with flashbacks of dirty deeds in Russia, and I did wonder if we would ever venture further afield. Then our slightly mismatched trio get on the trail of a plot involving the daughter of a Russian billionaire and there is no stopping them.

I should confess that I don’t normally read thrillers, but a little like Paul, I was seduced by events occurring in Nice. I was quickly reminded that the underground world of Russian business is a hard-hearted place to be, full of people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. This meant there were many times I had to be big, brave and carry on, despite my head shouting at Paul to get the police involved and walk away now. The suspense, the violence and the danger; you probably need a stronger constitution than mine to fully enjoy this book.

French Village Diaries Book review Taking Care of Business by J. D. De Roeck
J.D. De Roeck
Author Information:
Residing in the East Midlands, J. D. de Roeck is a career hotelier and company director. He loves travel and regularly visits the South of France, Nice, Monaco and Cannes.Taking Care of Businessis his first novel. The inspiration for this novel came from one of his many trips abroad. 

French Village Diaries Book review Taking Care of Business by J. D. De Roeck
Taking Care of Business blog tour

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, a walk in the sunflowers

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
A Sunday morning walk

Welcome to another Lazy Sunday in France and today I’m taking you on an early morning walk through the sunflower fields. 

This morning, a small group of us set off earlier than originally planned, in an attempt to beat the worst of the heat, but as you can see from our shadows, the sun was already busy.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
Sunday is no lazy day for the farmers

As were the farmers. Sunday is rarely a day off for the farmers, especially when the weather is good and it’s harvest time.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
It's harvest time

The combine harvesters and balers were out in the wheat and the hay fields.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
Sunflower fields

But it was the sunflowers I was looking forward to seeing and the morning sunlight showed them at their best.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
A perfect sunflower

The sight of a perfect sunflower never fails to make me smile.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
Cows in the shade

We weren’t the only ladies out and about this morning, but these two were sensibly staying in the shade.

We all agreed we were very lucky to live in a village with a strong sense of community and all this beauty on our doorstep.

I hope your Sunday is a good one.




Friday, July 6, 2018

BAC Results 2018

French Village Diaries BAC results 2018
BAC results 2018

Today is THE day, the BAC results are out and what an experience it was; certainly nothing like I remember my A-Level results day being.

Just before 8.00am we arrived at school and sat nervously in the car, while all around us cars and busses released equally anxious 17 and 18-year olds into the car park. I was told my presence wasn’t required – yeah, right, but having promised to keep my distance, I was allowed to leave the car.

French Village Diaries BAC results 2018
BAC results 2018

At exactly 8.00am the school principal came out with an armful of large sheets of paper. The crowd hushed and kept a respectable distance as the sheets, containing the results, were carefully placed on the notice boards.


French Village Diaries BAC results 2018
BAC results 2018
Then the madness began and from my vantage point on the steps I got a great view of Ed and his friends’ first reactions. The running, the reading and the screaming, followed by the ‘oh my god’ we’ve done it moment and the group hug.

French Village Diaries BAC results 2018
BAC results 2018


You can see the relief written all over their faces.

The atmosphere this morning was amazing, the noise, the excitement and the emotion. Thanks for letting me get out of the car Ed and well done; you have your BAC, with a Mention Bien (bloody good result), and we are so proud of you.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Book review of Arlette's Story by Angela Barton

French Village Diaries book review Arlette's Story by Angela Barton
Arlette's Story blog tour

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Arlette’s Story, the first novel from Angela Barton and a book I knew I had to read as soon as I saw it.
Synopsis
One woman’s struggle to fight back against the enemy in order to protect the ones she loves.
When Arlette Blaise sees a German plane fly over the family farm in 1940, she’s comforted by the fact that the occupying forces are far away in the north of the country. Surely the war will not reach her family in the idyllic French countryside near to the small town of Oradour-sur-Glane? 

But then Saul Epstein, a young Jewish man driven from his home by the Nazis, arrives at the farm and Arlette begins to realise that her peaceful existence might be gone for good … 
 
French Village Diaries book review Arlette's Story by Angela Barton
Arlette's Story
My Review
Arlette's Story is an emotional novel about life for a farmer's daughter in a village near Limoges during the war and occupation. Arlette is naïve to begin with when war breaks out, but we follow her as she matures from an innocent girl to a strong, independent young lady. She is resilient, brave and experiences far more than she should, thanks to the harsh way farming families were treated by the occupying Germans.
When the Germans arrive, Arlette draws the unwelcome attention of the Komandant, and as her grandmother wisely said, “no good will come of this”, but despite the risks involved she was able, up to a point, to use the situation to her advantage. Life was extremely hard, those she loved were forced away, tearing her family apart, their food and animals were requisitioned and despite rationing there was often nothing left to buy in the village shops. They also lived with deceit, hiding knowledge of the underground movement, knowing the harsh consequences involved if they were discovered.
I became rather attached to Arlette, who always remained strong despite facing tragedy more than once, and knowing the real history of where she lived, I wasn’t searching for a happy ending. Although upsetting in places, this is a beautifully written, well researched novel, thatshowed a real empathy for what life was like not too far from where I live in France now. 
Arlette stayed in my head long after I finished reading her story and if you’re a lover of historical fiction, I’m sure you will enjoy this book too.
 
French Village Diaries book review Arlette's Story by Angela Barton
Angela Barton
Author Bio 
Angela Barton was born in London and grew up in Nottingham. She is married with three grown up children. Passionate about writing both contemporary and historical fiction, Angela loves researching for her books and is an avid reader. Having signed publishing contracts for three of her completed novels with Ruby Fiction, Angela is excited to be working alongside such a friendly and supportive publishing team. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Nottingham Writers’ Studio.
Having recently moved to France, Angela (alongside her husband, Paul) is now a lavender farmer, creating products from the oil that’s distilled. Angela says she’s looking forward to spending more time writing in the company of her two spaniels while sitting on her veranda overlooking the breath-taking countryside of Charente. 
Social Media Links   
 
French Village Diaries book review Arlette's Story by Angela Barton
Giveaway
Giveaway – Win a beautiful notebook (UK Only)
*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 I reserve 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 be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Writers' Workshop retreat in France

French Village Diaries Atelier des Ecrivans Writers' Workshop retreat
Aubterre-sur-Dronne

Today I’m taking part in a different kind of blog tour. There is no book to review or author to interview, yet, but there is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who would like to explore the possibility of writing their first novel. Imagine the beautiful setting of a retreat in France, help from established authors and the chance to return to keep the momentum going to complete your project. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it! Please note I am in no way involved in this retreat, nor am I being paid to promote it, I’m just sharing the love.

French Village Diaries Atelier des Ecrivans Writers' Workshop retreat
Atelier des Ecrivains


Have you ever wanted to be whisked away somewhere remote to get that book inside you written? And do you wish that you had expert guidance and support to help you while you did it?
If you answered yes to the above questions then you should definitely continue reading this post which is going to tell you all about the Atelier des Ecrivains (Writers’ Workshop) retreat.

French Village Diaries Atelier des Ecrivans Writers' Workshop retreat
Hosts Becky and Sarah at Atelier des Ecrivains

Becky and Sarah who are co-hosting the writing retreat, and are both writers themselves, know that there are lots of people who harbour a desire to write a book but may either lack the confidence, the skills or the headspace to actually do it. They also know from experience that removing yourself from your daily life, with all of its pressures and interruptions, and coming together with like-minded people can be a great way to overcome those barriers. Where better to do that than in a beautiful 18thcentury manor house outside one of France’s prettiest villages, Aubeterre-sur-Dronne?

French Village Diaries Atelier des Ecrivans Writers' Workshop retreat
Guest Tutor Helen Cross Atelier des Ecrivains

Helen Cross, author of My Summer of Love, which was turned into a Hollywood film starring Emily Blunt and whose other novels, screen and radio plays entertain people all over the world will be leading the workshop.  She is an experienced teacher of creative writing and currently teaches on the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, UK. The combination of skills and experience offered by Helen, Becky and Sarah will be invaluable to authors at all stages of their writing journey. 
ABOUT THE WORKSHOPS
Getting started – Thursday 20 to Monday 24 September, 2018
For people at the beginning of their writing journey, this workshop will help you develop your writing skills, find your creative voice, thematic material and literary style: create credible characters and reveal them through dialogue and active, dramatic scenes: and build your world - structure, point-of-view, and narrative voice. With a small group of up to 10 writers, we are promoting an environment of creativity and support with one-to-one feedback sessions and time for questions and answers.
Keeping going – May, 2019
For people who have already started their writing journey, this workshop will enhance your skills even further, help you overcome barriers and enable you to shape your words into the brilliant piece of work you know it has the potential to be.
Getting published – September 2019
For people reaching the conclusion of a writing project, this workshop is designed to support the final stages of writing and editing, and will contain lots of useful information about how to get published and successfully market your book.  
You can find out more information about the hosts, venue and workshops here

To book your place or to contact the hosts, you can visit the website here.
I don’t know about you but I would very much like to go on this writing retreat! 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France with author Lorraine Wilson

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance author Lorraine Wilson Poppy's Place in the Sun
Poppy's Place in the Sun

Welcome to another #LazySundayinFrance where today, as part of the blog tour for Poppy’s Place in the Sun, author Lorraine Wilson is taking us to her home in Aude for her perfect Sunday.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance author Lorraine Wilson Poppy's Place in the Sun
Lorraine Wilson and her rescue dogs

Author Bio
Lorraine Wilson writes flirty, feel-good fiction for Harper Impulse - a Harper Collins imprint - and is unashamedly fond of happy endings. She loves hearing from readers and feels incredibly grateful to be doing the job she always dreamt of.

She splits her time between the South of France and Cambridgeshire and is usually either writing or reading while being sat on, walked over or barked at by one of her growing band of rescue dogs.

You can find her online either on Facebook or Twitter.

Lazy Sunday in France by Lorraine Wilson
I have a lot in common with Poppy, the main character in my latest book (Poppy’s Place in the Sun – read my review here) so I imagine our favourite way to spend a Sunday would be pretty similar.

Like Poppy I live in a small village in Aude complete with a château and donkeys. Any plans for the day tend to centre around my rescue dogs, four of whom feature in the book. I have seven rescue dogs in total. Yes, seven! I find saying ‘no’ to a dog who needs a home very difficult!

If it’s sunny I’ll sit in the garden reading while they play and chase each other and then later we’ll take a drive out into the countryside and have a walk somewhere further afield than our usual weekday walk. A picnic will be picked up from a Boulangerie on route. There are plenty of lakes, mountains, castles and picturesque villages in Occitannie and we’re still exploring. I never really switch off from writer mode and while the dogs are enjoying fresh sniffs I’ll be taking notes and photos and thinking if a location would be good to feature in the book I’m working on - I’m currently writing the second book of my ‘A French Escape’ series for Harper Collins (FVD – yes!). You’ll find some of my favourite locations in the first book - Carcassonne, Mirepoix, the Pyrenees and the thermal baths at Aix-Les-Thermes. I love the area I’m living in so really enjoy being able to showcase it in my books!


French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance author Lorraine Wilson Poppy's Place in the Sun
Carcassonne by night

The end of the day will be spent on the deck at the back of my house, watching the sun set over the surrounding countryside as I listen to an audiobook and work on a sewing project.

So all in all a pretty quiet day but as I’m in a place I love, doing a job I love and get to stay at home with my dogs I consider myself pretty lucky.

Lazy Sunday in France for French Village Diaries ©LorraineWilson2018

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance author Lorraine Wilson Poppy's Place in the Sun
Poppy's Place in the Sun by Lorraine Wilson

Poppy’s Place in the Sun
She had me at Bonjour! Warm, funny, deliciously Frenchthis lovely story filled my heart with sunshine’ Jane Linfoot

Sometimes you need to lose yourself to find your way home

With only her trusty dogs Peanut, Treacle and Pickwick by her side, Poppy Kirkbride could be forgiven for having doubts about her move to a quiet village in rural France. But as the sun shines down on her ramshackle new home, Poppy knows shes made the right decision. A lick of paint, and some TLC and her rustic farmhouse will be the perfect holiday retreat – Poppy’s dream come true.

Poppy is welcomed by her fellow villagers, except for brooding local vet Leo Dubois, who makes it clear Poppy isnt welcome in his village – or his life! Leo might be gorgeous, but Poppy wont be told what to do by an arrogant Frenchman – no matter how kind and gentle he is to her dogs!

Determined to stay, Poppy tries to understand the enigmatic Frenchman better. But as the two get closer, Poppy sees another side to Leo – a man with heartbreak of his own. Falling in love with Leo is easy, but can he ever return Poppy's love? And what would this mean for her dream life and place in the sun?

Links to Amazon for the paperback and ebook versions of Poppy’s Place in the Sun can be found below or via a universal purchase link here 




French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance author Lorraine Wilson Poppy's Place in the Sun
Giveaway Poppy's Place in the Sun

Giveaway – Win a PB of Poppy’s Place in the Sun and a crossbody hand bag (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


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French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance author Lorraine Wilson Poppy's Place in the Sun
Blog Tour Poppy's Place in the Sun