Monday, September 30, 2019

Book review of The Christmas Holiday by Sophie Claire

French Village Diaries book review The Christmas Holiday Sophie Claire
The Christmas Holiday by Sophie Claire

My review today is for The Christmas Holiday by Sophie Claire.

This is a book of many layers; emotional, cosy and comforting, as well as romantic and feel-good too.

We meet Evie, trampled on by her ex and her parents, but bubbly, bright and full of positive cheer, even when things are difficult. Happy in her colourful world of fabric and quilting, she is determined to see the best in everything as she tries to make a success of her craft shop, the Button Hole. Homemade curtains may not excite her creatively, but they do help to pay the bills, and it’s while at a client’s house she meets newcomer to the village, Jake. Grief-stricken, angry with life and full of guilt, Jake doesn’t want to mix with anyone, especially around the anniversary of his wife’s death and over Christmas. Evie is everything he is trying to avoid, although Smoke, his beloved dog, who has helped him through the darkest of days, seems to disagree.

Living in a small village makes it difficult to hide away, so when the opportunity arises for an escape to a villa in the south of France, where Christmas celebrations can be forgotten completely, it seems the perfect solution for everyone. Can two lost and troubled souls, thrown together and seemingly very different on the outside, find something in each other that they didn’t know they were looking for? 

Sophie’s writing is beautiful, and she makes it easy to feel what her characters are going through. This book is like a hug, full of emotion, warmth and love. Despite the characters doing their best to ignore the festivities, getting into the Christmas spirit was easy within the pages of this book and I didn’t want it to end.

I can’t wait for more from Sophie, and luckily, I don’t have to. A Forget-me-not Summer (previously published as Her Forget-me-not Ex) will be released by Hodder and Stoughton early next year. Links to Amazon can be found below.

French Village Diaries book review The Christmas Holiday Sophie Claire
Blog Tour The Christmas Holiday by Sophie Claire

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.

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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



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’!

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