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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Book review A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack

French Village Diaries book review A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack
A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack


A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack

Four exes and a wedding. And a road trip no one expected…

Jo Watters would rather do anything than go to her ex-husband Ben’s wedding to perfect Monica, and if it wasn't for her beloved children she would already be far, far away. But having promised to be civilised for the sake of their soon-to-be-blended family she is headed to Spain with a fixed smile and hoping for a very fixed drink!

But when Jo realises that she’s on the same plane as Monica's ex-husband, the devastatingly handsome but equally cantankerous Adrián, she thinks her trip can’t get any worse... she’s wrong. When bad weather forces the plane to land the wrong side of the Pyrenees, and the hotel they’re sent to only has one double room available Jo begins to wish she was anywhere - anywhere - but here...

Determined to get to the wedding however they can, Jo and Adrián make an unlikely team, but as their disastrous trip continues, Jo starts to wonder if fate has other ideas for her and Adrián, especially when he seems to be getting more handsome by the day…maybe this trip won't be so terrible after all?


French Village Diaries book review A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack
A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack


My Review 

Jo and Adrián are in the unenviable position of having been summoned to the wedding of their ex-spouses in Spain, and despite them rather being anywhere but there, they are both determined to grin and bear it for the sake of their respective children. Fate, on the other hand has other ideas and their travel plans unravel in the most hilarious ways imaginable. 

As the weather grounds their aircraft the wrong side of the Pyrenees, they have no choice but to embark on a road trip together, that begins in the pilgrimage town of Lourdes. As our unlikely travelling companions get caught in all Lourdes has to offer, Leonie’s ability to add in Hells Angels motorcyclists was genius and I was hooked. 


French Village Diaries book review A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack
A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack


What begins as awkward and embarrassing, soon becomes friendship and healing as they bond over reliving what went wrong in their failed marriages, and the disasters they find themselves in. The closer they get to Spain, the more emotions bubble to the surface, but what warmed me the most was the focus on family at the heart of this book. It was a highly entertaining read, at the expense of two stressed out parents, desperate to emotionally support their children who have been drawn into the fiasco of a nightmare wedding celebration. I couldn’t put it down.

This is now the third book from Leonie Mack that I have devoured from page one and I’m already looking forward to her next one. If you are a fan of romance with a good twist of humour, then add this book to your summer reading list.

You can read my reviews of two of Leonie’s previous novels here:

Snow Days with You

Twenty-one nights in Paris

Purchase links

French Village Diaries is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk at no extra cost to you.

Amazon UK link 

Purchase Link 


French Village Diaries book review A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack
Leonie Mack


About the author

Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great international locations and big feelings. She loves a happy ending and shares that love in every book she writes! Her titles take readers across Italy and as far as the Caribbean.

Leonie is a journalism graduate, a language nut and loves to travel, particularly on foot, by bike and by train. After growing up in Australia and living most of her adult life in London, she now lives in Germany, among the vineyards on the Main river.


French Village Diaries book review A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack
A Wedding in the Sun by Leonie Mack


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French-themed reading bingo

This year I’ve set myself a reading challenge bingo, with twenty-five different types of French themed books to tick off. This book nicely ticks off “A book set in the mountains”.


French Village Diaries French-themed reading bingo challenge 2024
French-themed reading bingo challenge 2024


Monday, May 13, 2024

Book review The Takedown by Evie Hunter

French Village Diaries book review The Takedown Evie Hunter
The Takedown by Evie Hunter


The Takedown by Evie Hunter

A woman scorned...

On board the superyacht Perseus, moored in the glamorous harbour in Antibes, Freya Addison is settling into her new role as hostess.

The other crew members all like Freya, she is calm and diligent and a hard worker, but what they don’t know is that Freya has a secret and an ulterior motive for being on board.

Revenge will be hers.

Because Freya isn’t here to travel the world in style. She has her sights set on one thing only, bringing down the owner of the yacht - the rich and arrogant Julian Falcon.

A man who ripped the heart out of Freya’s family.

And a man she will make pay…


French Village Diaries book review The Takedown Evie Hunter
The Takedown by Evie Hunter


My Review

Having visited Antibes and gawped with wonder at the size of the superyachts in the harbour, I couldn’t wait to step on board, even if this book is not my usual go-to read. 

It soon became clear that it is a book about risks, revenge and achieving goals. There is little place for emotions and the excesses and greed were a world away from anything I am used to, but I was easily absorbed within the pages. 

 

French Village Diaries book review The Takedown Evie Hunter
The Takedown by Evie Hunter

Freya risks everything putting herself in such a prominent position on Julian Falcon’s superyacht, integrating into the small team of dedicated staff, ready to drop anything for him. Hiding her motive for revenge, while living in close proximity to everyone else, was never going to be easy.

Julian didn’t get to where he was without taking risks along the way, but what he considered his strength, his ability to use those around him for his own advantage, made him enemies. As the interesting back stories of the guests and staff onboard were slowly revealed, so were other risk-takers and game players. These constantly changed my ideas of where the book was going and how successful I thought Freya was likely to be. One by one, she makes discoveries that she has to judge, will they help her in her goal, or will they become a threat? 

Julian was a nasty piece of work and seeing him sweat when his plan began to unravel was as enjoyable for me as it was for Freya, but his power and influence over others was not to be underestimated. 

Revenge, in this case, is best served with a chilled glass of Champagne and a view of the sparkling Mediterranean. 

 

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French Village Diaries is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk at no extra cost to you.

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French Village Diaries book review The Takedown Evie Hunter
Evie Hunter

 

About the author

Evie Hunter is a British author and a bit of a nomad, who's spent the last twenty years roaming the world and finding inspiration from the places she's visited. An animal lover and recently widowed, she's now settled back in the UK with her rescued Spanish Podenco, Markos. Keep up to date with all her releases by joining her mailing list 


French Village Diaries book review The Takedown Evie Hunter
The Takedown by Evie Hunter


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French-themed reading bingo

This year I’ve set myself a reading challenge bingo, with twenty-five different types of French themed books to tick off. This book nicely ticks off “A thriller set in France”.


 

French Village Diaries reading bingo challenge 2024
French Village Diaries reading bingo 2024

  

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Book review Annie in Paris by Carmen Reid

French Village Diaries book review Annie in Paris Carmen Reid
Annie in Paris by Carmen Reid


Annie in Paris by Carmen Reid

Personal shopper Annie Valentine is back! Older and bolder!

Fashion guru Annie is struggling to cope with her hectic life. With the demands of two older children, plus four-year-old twins, her marriage to Ed is in a romance-free rut and she’s clinging by a couture thread to her job as the nation’s favourite fashion fixer.

And where is Svetlana, her multi-millionaire friend, when Annie needs her? Busy with an expensive mid-life crisis, that's where!

When Ed gets the chance to teach in Paris, Annie thinks time apart could be the answer. Wrong!

In Paris, Ed transforms into a debonair silver fox, attracting the attentions of stylish siren Sylvie.

Annie can’t lose her man or the job she loves, so bundling her bags, her babies and a reluctant Svetlana onto the Eurostar, she sets off to the rescue. But can the City of Love deliver the ooh la la that her marriage, and her fashion series, so desperately needs?

Another brilliant laugh out loud emotional read, perfect for fans of Fiona Gibson, Tracy Bloom and Sophie Ranald! 


French Village Diaries book review Annie in Paris Carmen Reid
Annie in Paris by Carmen Reid


My Review

I should start this review by admitting that I am no fashion guru, I dislike shopping and tragically, until reading this book, was new to the whole world of Annie Valentine and personal shopping. I blame twenty years living in a forgotten French village, but helpfully this book starts with a great introduction to bring all readers up to date with who is who. My initial panic about not being fashionable enough even to carry on reading was calmed by Carmen herself admitting she loves to recycle clothes and buy second-hand where possible, phew, and by the end of the prologue I was as hooked as any fan.


French Village Diaries book review Annie in Paris Carmen Reid
Annie in Paris by Carmen Reid

This book is full pace from the beginning as we are thrown into the chaotic life of Annie Valentine, who is just about managing to juggle 101 tricky family and work situations without losing the plot. These challenges, and her calm outward manner, immediately warmed me to her and ensured that throughout the book I was fighting her corner when things got more complex. 

I loved the French snippets of advice that headed up each chapter, despite it being a book that is as much about relationships as it is about fashion. 

Paris as a location sparkled and provided some classic scenes, including inside bistros, hidden courtyards and the contents of a real Parisian woman’s wardrobe. This book is great mix of entertaining situations that often had me grinning away as I read it, as well as being moving and thought provoking. With Annie, Ed and Svetlana experiencing new emotional stages of their lives, it highlighted the changing perceptions we all encounter as we mature and dip our toes into a mid-life crisis.

If you are looking for a quick, fun escape to Paris, this is the book for you.

Purchase links

French Village Diaries is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk at no extra cost to you.

 

Amazon UK link 



French Village Diaries book review Annie in Paris Carmen Reid
Carmen Reid

 

About the author

Carmen Reid is the bestselling author of numerous woman’s fiction titles including the Personal Shopper series starring Annie Valentine. After taking a break from writing she is back, introducing her hallmark feisty women characters to a new generation of readers. She lives in Glasgow with her husband and children.

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French Village Diaries book review Annie in Paris Carmen Reid
Annie in Paris by Carmen Reid


Sunday, April 28, 2024

Book review of The French Cookery School by Caroline James

French Village Diaries book review The French Cookery School Caroline James
The French Cookery School by Caroline James

The French Cookery School by Caroline James  

Mix together a group of mature students:

A culinary Sloane, a take-away cook and a food journalist.

Add in:

A handsome host

Season with:

A celebrity chef

Bring to the boil:

At a luxurious cookery school in France!

Waltho Williams has no idea what he’s letting himself in for when he opens the doors of La Maison du Paradis, his beautiful French home. But with dwindling funds, a cookery school seems like the ideal business plan. 

Running away from an impending divorce, super-snob Caroline Carrington hopes a luxurious cookery holiday will put her back on her feet. Blackpool fish and chip café owner Fran Cartwright thinks she’s won the lottery when her husband Sid books her on a week working alongside a celebrity chef. Meanwhile, feeling she is fading at fifty, journalist Sally Parker-Brown hopes her press week covering the cookery course will enable her to boost her career.

But will the eclectic group be a recipe for success, or will the mismatched relationships sink like a souffle? 

Whip out an apron, grab a wooden spoon and take a culinary trip to La Maison du Paradis, then sit back and enjoy The French Cookery School!

 

French Village Diaries book review The French Cookery School Caroline James
The French Cookery School by Caroline James

My Review

A good chef will always say that recipes should start with quality ingredients and this book had those aplenty, from a fabulous mix of characters to superb descriptions of a location that came to life. It is always a lovely surprise to find myself in a book that is set in a less well-known area of France, but to find myself close enough to home that I recognised where I was, put a huge grin on my face. Chauvigny with its medieval castles, the famous macarons of Montmorillon and the abbey at St Savin, are just a stone’s throw from Poitiers, and this book made me want to plan return day trips.


French Village Diaries book review The French Cookery School Caroline James
The French Cookery School by Caroline James


Everyone present at La Maison du Paradis cookery retreat is looking for something or escaping their demons, and that included owner Waltho. At the beginning they didn’t seem an obvious friendship group and I wondered how easily they would gel together, but gently simmered in the heat of the French countryside, the chemistry soon began to happen. The author cleverly crafted the plot so that everyone’s strengths and weaknesses had their moment in the spotlight, yet no one personality (flavour) dominated. In fact, I’d say they all complimented each other and were enhanced by a little bit of French magic. 

I always looked forward to finishing my day lost in the pages of this book and often fell asleep wondering where tomorrow’s chapter would take me.

There is so much more to this book than the delicious food served between its pages. It’s about emotions and recovery, and left me with a warm, satisfied feeling, much like a fine meal savoured in the company of great friends. If you enjoy books where the characters embark on uplifting personal journeys, and you want a location that sticks with you (hopefully making you open your map of France and plan a visit), then do add this to your summer reading list. I might even see you wandering the steep cobbled streets of Chauvigny or Montmorillon one day and we could chat about books from the terrace of a café.

French Village Diaries book review The French Cookery School Caroline James macaron Montmorillon
Montmorillon macaron museum, as featured in
The French Cookery School by Caroline James



Purchase links

French Village Diaries is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk at no extra cost to you.

Amazon UK link 


 

French Village Diaries book review The French Cookery School Caroline James
Caroline James

About the author

Caroline James always wanted to write, but instead of taking a literary route, followed a career in the hospitality industry, which included owning a pub and a beautiful country house hotel. She was also a media agent representing celebrity chefs. When she finally glued her rear to a chair and began to write, the words flowed, and several novels later, she has gained many bestseller badges for her books.

The French Cookery School is Caroline’s tenth novel. Previously, The Cruise, described as: ‘Girl power for the over sixties!’ was an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller. Caroline’s hilarious novels include The Spa Break and The Best Boomerville Hotel, depicted as ‘Britain’s answer to the Best Marigold Hotel’.

She likes to write in Venus, her holiday home on wheels and in her spare time, walks with Fred, her Westie, or swims in a local lake. Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the SOA, ARRA and the Society of Women’s Writers & Journalists. She is also a speaker with many amusing talks heard by a variety of audiences, including cruise ship guests.

 

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French Village Diaries book review The French Cookery School Caroline James
The French Cookery School by Caroline James

 

Books by Caroline James

The French Cookery School might be the first of her books I’ve read, but I’ll be looking up her others:

The Cruise

The Spa Break

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

Boomerville at Ballymegille

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me

Jungle Rock


French-themed reading bingo

This year I’ve set myself a reading challenge bingo, with twenty-five different types of French themed books to tick off. This book nicely ticks off “A book about French food”.

 

French Village Diaries French themed 2024 reading bingo challenge
French themed reading bingo challenge

 

Friday, March 15, 2024

Book review The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey


French Village Diaries book review The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey
The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey


The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey 

 

Love books? The Bordeaux Book Club is seeking new members!

 

When Leah and her husband moved to France, it was with the dream of becoming self-sufficient. But in truth, it’s not the ‘good life’ she’d imagined, as three hours of digging barely yields a single straggly carrot. Worse, her teenage daughter is acting up, and her husband seems to find every strange excuse under the hot French sun to disappear.

 

So when her friend entreats her to join the new bookclub she’s forming, Leah decides it’s something she will do for herself. The chance to make new friends, to drink a few glasses of wine, and to escape into stories that take her miles away from the life she’d thought would be her own happy-ever-after.

 

But the book club is a strange group of misfits. There’s prickly Grace, who lives alone and seems to know everybody and like no-one. Buttoned-up Monica, who says her husband is away and appears to be parenting her baby all alone. Handsome builder George, who has barely read a book before. And Alfie – who is a full two decades younger than everyone else, and is hiding a devastating secret…

 

As the stories they read begin to bring the new friends closer together, Leah is about to discover that happy-ever-afters don’t always look how you expect them to…

 

A gorgeously escapist read from the bestselling author of A Year at the French Farmhouse, perfect for fans of Veronica Henry, Jo Thomas and Fiona Valpy.



French Village Diaries book review The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey
The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey

 

My Review

The Bordeaux Book Club is another engaging read from Gillian Harvey that I looked forward to falling into each evening. As well as the relatable characters we meet at Grace’s inaugural book club, the cameos played by the heroes and heroines of the classics they chose to read, totally ticked my book worm boxes, and had me adding a reread of some of these books to my ‘to be read’ pile.

 

The book group are a mix of ages and personalities, most of whom would never have crossed paths with each other without the initiative of Grace. Things may have begun a little awkwardly at first, but they soon appreciated the new friendships they found. This book cleverly weaves many aspects of life in France and the adjustments needed when you arrive in a new country, into a plot where friendship is at its heart. It is emotional, with the ups and downs of life changes for them all, but most especially Alfie. It is also a book about books, well-known characters and the power of the great classics and what they can teach us today. 



French Village Diaries book review The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey
The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey

 


I can’t work out whether I was amused or horrified that I saw a little bit of me in bossy Grace, the association queen, Monica, a stay-at-home mum whose husband works away, and Leah, doing her best to juggle a veggie garden, chickens, and family life, despite the hard work and many setbacks thrown her way. I’m putting this down to Gillian’s expert eye on the British arrivals she has met over many years of living in France and nothing to do with the life I’ve carved out for myself here these last twenty years being weird enough to be a book plot….

 

Grace especially stole my heart with her wise words to the others, when they needed them most, so I thought I’d share my favourite quote here:

 

“But that’s why it’s important to have a good relationship with yourself. To be your own champion, cheerleader. To be the person who forces you to get up, to go out and try something new.” 

 

If, like me, you have devoured Gillian’s previous books (see below), or are a lover of classic authors like Bronte, Dickens or Flaubert, I am sure you will get a lot of enjoyment and entertainment by joining The Bordeaux Book Club. I know that I want to move to Bordeaux just to join Grace’s book club!

 

Previous books by Gillian Harvey:

A Month in Provence 

The French Château Escape 

One French Summer 

A Year at the French Farmhouse 

 

Purchase links

French Village Diaries is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk at no extra cost to you.

 

Amazon UK link 


 

French Village Diaries book review The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey
Gillian Harvey


About the author

Internationally best-selling author of contemporary, emotionally compelling and humorous commercial fiction.

 

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French Village Diaries book review The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey
The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey