Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Book review of Haircuts, Hens and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg

French Village Diaries book review Haircuts, Hens and Homicide Stephanie Dagg
Haircuts, Hens and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg

Haircuts, Hens and Homicide

Megan finds mayhem when she arrives in France to bury her Gran and sort out her affairs. She expected difficult encounters with civil servants and red tape but not with wandering chickens, an imperious policeman and a dead body. Together with her unlikely new friend, the elderly and grumpy Alphonse and his canine equivalent, Monsieur Moustache, Megan becomes involved in investigating the fowl-related foul play that’s at work in this sleepy part of rural France. 
She’s helped but mainly hindered by the people she comes across. These include the local mayor, who wants Megan to stay and set up a hair salon in his village to help keep it alive. There are the cousins Romain, the gendarme, and Nico, the clumsy but hunky farmer. They have always clashed, but do so constantly now that Megan is on the scene. Michelle, Romain’s terrifying ex who wants him back, appears along the way, as does Claudette, a wheelchair-bound old lady, and Kayla, Megan’s best friend, who is hugely pregnant but not above taking on the forces of French law and order when Megan finds herself the prime suspect after Alphonse is stabbed.
There’s excitement, humour and lots of ruffled feathers in this rom-com slash cosy mystery, the first in a projected series.

My review

I have been following Stephanie for many years and have always enjoyed her writing style, and this book was no exception.

Megan isn’t in a great place. With her mum no longer on the scene, burying her Gran (who brought her up) and sorting out her house and belongings is something she has  to go through alone, and in France. From her arrival, things start to veer off plan, mainly thanks to strange goings on that seem to involve foul play with chickens. She soon makes an impression on the local gendarme, as she always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and life is certainly not as calm as she was expecting it to be, especially with the queue of ladies (of a certain age) wanting a new look hairstyle from her. It is when she becomes involved in investigating the mysterious happenings in the village, and then finds herself the main suspect, that things start getting serious.

This is a fun read with a great story line that perfectly captures life and the quirky characters you meet in rural France and I often found myself laughing at the characters as I read it. With the added bonus of a mystery to be solved, a hint of romance, some unexpected twists and a real baddie intent on causing as much trouble as possible; I loved it from beginning to end and couldn’t put it down.

I’m so pleased to read that there will be more books in this series from Stephanie as I’m hooked and can’t wait to find out what happens next for Megan.

French Village Diaries book review Haircuts, Hens and Homicide Stephanie Dagg
Stephanie Dagg

French Village Diaries book review Haircuts, Hens and Homicide Stephanie Dagg

Author Bio

I'm an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than 'belonging' to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it's been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at
I'm married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.     
I'm a traditionally-published author of many children's books, and am now self-publishing too. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at The rest of the time I'm running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal's poop.   

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, Poitiers

Ed was home for the weekend, so we decided to combine taking him back to uni with a day out in Poitiers. Morning coffee, a picnic in Blossac park and a tasty sweet treat, all with blue sky and sunshine was just perfect for a Lazy Sunday in France and I really can't think of a nicer way to have spent my 47th birthday. 

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Morning coffee, Place du Maréchal-Leclerc, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Sunny morning in Poitiers 

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
With Ed, Parc de Blossac, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Parc de Blossac, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Quirky ducks, Parc de Blossac, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Sitting by the fountain, Parc de Blossac, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
A birthday Broyé du Poitou

Friday, September 14, 2018

Book review of Blame it on Paris by Lise McClendon

French Village Diaries book review Blame it on Paris Lise McClendon

Lise McClendon Blame it on Paris

Release date: August 24, 2018 at Thalia Press
256 pages


In this seventh installment of the Bennett Sisters Mysteries, Francie goes to Paris when she is accused of wrongdoing in her law office. She has received a mysterious letter connecting her ex-husband to an American student jailed for drug crimes. A chance encounter with an old boyfriend makes her spring in Paris more exciting but between the accusations against her at home, and the difficulty of doing any good in Paris, things are never smooth for a Bennett sister in France


Blame it on Paris sees us back in France with Merle Bennett and one of her sisters, Francie, and this time it is Francie who gets most of the main action. Following an accusation at the law firm in the US where she works, she finds herself with enough time on her hands to investigate the case of a forgotten American, imprisoned in Paris on drug charges. Paris, an investigation to solve and a hint at romance; I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this book.

Strange and often dangerous situations seem to have a habit of finding the Bennett sisters and they can’t help but become caught up in the middle of them. However, they are a force to be reckoned with; intelligent, knowledgeable in law and with real determination to discover the truth, no matter how much it has been hidden - never underestimate them. 

Despite feeling this book had less drama than the previous books in the series, and missing being in Merle’s cottage in the Dordogne, there was still a lot to enjoy here. Lise created a real sense of place with the setting of this book and I could easily imagine myself in Paris, by the River Seine, and taste the delights the sisters and Merle’s partner Pascal discovered in the many hidden away bistros they visited. I enjoyed Francie’s sense of discovery and chance of romance that Paris gave her, but as always in this series of books it’s the twists and turns of the investigation that I love. Francie and Merle are led to many doors, but not everyone is keen to talk or help them, but perseverance, team work and with the delicious Pascal on their side, I had no doubt they would be able to unravel the truth in the end.


French Village Diaries book review Blame it on Paris Lise McClendonLise McClendon is the author of sixteen novels, mysteries, and thrillers, including her popular Bennett Sisters series featuring five sisters who are lawyers. Lise herself is not a lawyer but a francophile scribbler who enjoys imagining different lives, loves, and adventures. Her first mystery, The Bluejay Shaman, was published in 1994. She lives in Montana.
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French Village Diaries book review Blame it on Paris Lise McClendon  


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book review of A Letter from Paris by Louisa Deasey

French Village Diaries book review A Letter from Paris Louisa Deasey
A Letter from Paris by Louisa Deasey

My review today is for A Letter from Paris, a family memoir by Louisa Deasey, daughter of Australian writer Denison Deasey. 

Those of you who are regular readers will know that I love memoirs and I have to start this review by saying this is the most moving and beautifully written memoir I have read in a long while.
French Village Diaries book review A Letter from Paris Louisa Deasey
Louisa Deasey
Louisa Deasey grew up with the cloud of shame about her father Denison, who died when she was only six, hanging over her. She soon learned not to ask about her dad when she was growing up, as she was made to feel guilty if she did. All she really knew about him she learned from reading his obituaries, which sadly gave her no sense of pride for a man who led a rather remarkable life. This all changed when she received a mysterious message from Paris; the granddaughter of an old flame of Denison’s contacts Louisa in the days following her grandmother’s death. This proves to be the catalyst Louisa needs to discover for herself the life her father led before he returned to Australia and settled down with his family.

I have to admit that I had never heard of Denison Deasey before reading this book, but I soon became as enthralled by Louisa’s journey to discover the truth about his life as she was. Denison lived in another era; experiencing life in the post war years in Europe, where he contrasts his experiences in London, Paris and the south of France through his diary entries and constantly compares Europe, where he feels at home to an Australia he feels lacks creativity. I learned a lot, both culturally and historically.

Alongside her amazing journey, this book contains many remarkable people, who although not technically related, become real family to Louisa as they help her find her way from the cold and cheerless library archives in Australia, to jet-lagged rendezvous in London, to reconnecting with her godmother in Paris and finally, coming ‘home’ to a villa on the French coast. I devoured the pages, feeling I was there with her, experiencing every step.

This is an emotional read; many would have given up when discoveries became difficult or leads became dead ends. Louisa finds the strength to keep going, learning that sometimes it’s the chance encounters with strangers who give us the most support and help us on our way.

A Letter from Paris is out now in ebook and paperback format and is a must read for memoir lovers. Links to Amazon can be found below.

If you too love memoirs, come and join us over at We Love Memoirs, a fun and friendly Facebook group who I can’t wait to share this gem of a memoir with.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Book review of The Pretender by Katie Ward

French Village Diaries book review The Pretender Katie Ward
The Pretender by Katie Ward

The Pretender 

France 2000: Two babies are born on the same day just two hours apart - but to very different lives. Isabella is a Princess and heir to the French throne, while Sophia is born into a life of poverty and abuse at the hands of her father. At the age of 18, Sophia runs away from home. That same night, Isabella is also fleeing from the burden of her royal life when she finds Sophia slumped at the palace gates. Amazed by how alike they look, Isabella proposes a daring plot - to exchange their lives for one week. 
‘The Pretender’ is an emotionally intense and compelling story of friendship, love and the strange power of destiny.

French Village Diaries book review The Pretender Katie Ward
The Pretender Blog Tour

My Review

I thought bringing back the French royal family, giving them a history, traditions and the palace in Fontainebleau, but setting it in the modern day was great fun and putting myself into a teenager’s head, I loved the idea of this book. Isabella, the princess who doesn’t want to be Queen, but just wants the freedom to explore Paris as a normal 18-year-old. Sophia, the pauper who suddenly finds herself a princess, living with a King and a Queen, totally unaware of life inside the palace, but safe for now from her father. 
Isabella is the instigator of the switch and the one with who holds the key to return but having waited all her life for the freedom of anonymity, will she find what she wants in just one week. For Sophia, living under the scrutiny of strangers, who are supposed to be your family, is not as easy as she thought, but her determination to not let Isabella down showed her resourcefulness. 
As their adventures continue, the naivety of their decision becomes apparent, followed by the reality of what they have done, and then the panic when the situation changes. It’s no longer a game, life becomes serious and events seem to be spiralling out of their control. 

This is a good fun read, that sensitively covers some important issues as well as highlighting the fact our actions have consequences, but does it have a real fairy tale “and they all lived happily ever after” ending? Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out. 

Author Bio

Katie Ward always knew she wanted to write for a living. However, she was told by her careers advisor that “it might be more appropriate for you to work in a shop”. When Katie didn’t get the grades she needed to get into college, she negotiated a three month trial. After successfully completing the course she secured a place at her first choice university to study Journalism. 
After realising she wanted to be an author, Katie moved to Dublin where she worked her way up from receptionist to Executive Assistant at Merrill Lynch. Katie continued to write in her spare time, submitting her short story into the “Do the Write Thing” competition being run by Irish TV show ‘Seoige and O’Shea’. This story was originally written when Katie was 14 after she was inspired by an article in her favourite teen magazine. Katie was the only non-Irish author selected to have her story published in an anthology of the same name which reached 19 in the Irish Best sellers List. Katie was also shortlisted for a competition judged by MAN Booker Prize winning author Roddy Doyle which was run by Metro Eireann newspaper. 
Katie currently lives in Devon with her cat (aka ‘Her Royal Fluffiness’) where she sings in a community choir and has recently taken up Archery. Katie’s favourite author has been Roald Dahl since she was a child as she loves the dark edge he brings to his books. On the flip side though, Katie loves Disney, magic, unicorns and a good rom com film at the cinema with her friends.

You can find Katie at her website here and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

French Village Diaries book review The Pretender Katie Ward
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