veniceVenice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna is a fast-moving, atmospheric romance. Set in eighteenth century Italy, we meet Marietta Gatti who is having rather a tough time of things. Her husband, Dario, is an obnoxious, unfaithful bully and as for his mother, well, she’s beyond awful. When Dario dies prematurely, Marietta is thrown out by mum-in-law and returns from Verona to her parents in Italy but finds that her father has been murdered and someone unpleasant is after her. But fortunately there’s Nico so she’s not totally alone.

This is an unusual story. As well as a bevy of trials for our heroine to get through, we have the heady atmosphere of carnival time in Venice, plus devil worshipping and also a blind hero. The author is particularly good at depicting characters. We really get into their shoes and see how their minds work. Venice is beautifully portrayed and we can imagine ourselves there in this almost magical world.

The story is absorbing and it’s easy to get lost in it. Elizabeth McKenna writes with a keen eye for detail but never goes over the top with it. The story never wallows and neither do our characters. There’s energy and optimism, despite the difficult circumstances the find themselves in. This is an enjoyable historical romance/mystery that makes for a pleasant, interesting read.

You can buy it on Amazon.com here.

About the author

elizmcElizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel, Cera’s Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

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Today I’m featuring a guest post from author Nancy Pennick, as part of her virtual book tour for Stealing Time with Backcover Promotions, the third book in her Waiting for Dusk series.
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The Feel of a Good Book
 
With the invention of the Kindle and Nook, there are so many ways to read a book these days. A lot of people say they like the feel of the book in their hand. I admit I was one of them.
 
As a young girl, I remember how it felt to pick a book out at the library, carefully taking my time. I’d place the stack on the check-out counter with a feeling of accomplishment. The librarian would slowly turn the book over, open the back cover and remove the card. She’d stamp the card and then the book with the due date. Things were pretty simple back then.
 A book plays an important part in my novel, too. Without it, Katie would never be able to live her two lives. She reads right before she goes to bed, places it on her nightstand and off she goes!
 
I never really thought about time machines or other contraptions to help the characters travel through time. A set of books did the trick. They are precious to their owners, kept safely tucked away next to their beds. All they have to do is read, go to sleep and they arrive at their destination.
The funny thing about these special books is that the characters never remember what they read or what the book is about. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to you!
 About the author

nancyAfter a great career in teaching, Nancy found a second calling as a writer. Ohio is her home but she loves to travel the U.S. Her debut young adult novel, Waiting for Dusk, was a surprise to her as much as it was to her family. Watching a PBS series on National Parks, her mind wandered to another place and that is where the characters of Katie and Andrew were born. Call of the Canyon and Stealing Time continue their story. The Swedish influences found in the books came from her mother whose parents emigrated from Sweden. Nancy currently resides in Mentor, Ohio with her husband and their college-age son.

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About Stealing Time 

This is a Young Adult title published by Ice & Fire and available in Kindle, Nook and print formats. 

Drew from the past…

Kate from the present…

Two worlds collided.

As senior year comes to a close, a promise of new beginnings is on the horizon. Kate longs to head to Arizona and college until her former friend, Tyson, does the unimaginable forcing her to stay in Ohio. Her family has to pull together to keep their secrets safe. Anna wishes to return to the canyon in 1927 once more and Kate’s determined to make that a reality. Summer’s filled with wonderful memories and little warning of things to come. Kate’s world grows darker and she must be the one to conquer the demons and save the world that is most precious to her.

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Keep an eye on Backcover Promotions as this book tour company organises excellent virtual book tours.

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ladybluesLady Blues: forget-me-not is a Gus Legarde mystery, the tenth in the series. Although part of a series it works perfectly as a standalone book, although you will inevitably want to read more of these novels. This book is probably best described as a cozy mystery, although that might not do it full justice. There’s genuine tension and threat, edge of the seat stuff, and the characters have depth and interest to them, rather more than in some cozies. Yet our hero, Professor Gus Legarde, is such a comforting sort of person that we feel safe and secure in his hands, and that’s where the coziness comes.

Gus is fifty-something, a professor, and lives with his second wife, his step-daughter, his ex-wife’s brother Siegfried, a variety of dogs, and his daughter and grandchildren are in the house too at the start of this story. There’s a strong supportive family atmosphere. Another guest, Lily, arrives, a Korean woman, after Gus and Siegfried pull her out of her burning house above the shop she runs with her brother Thom. He’s badly injured in the fire. And Lily has secrets to hide. That’s one strand of the mystery, and another stems from an octogenarian Gus meets when playing the piano at a nursing home. Music helps him remember, as do drugs, although possibly only temporarily, and one of the memories that comes back is of Bella, the woman he loved, his Lady Blues. Gus is determined to help him recapture his past before it’s all too late.

It’s hard to describe the story without giving away too much, but suffice it to say it’s intelligently and tightly written. I’ll turn my attention to the writing. This is beautiful – evocative, startling, teasing, terse, soothing and suspenseful in turns. Author Aaron Paul Lazar has a wonderfully readable style, empathetic and gentle, but also frank and realistic. The characters he creates are fully rounded, flaws and all, and it’s hard not to be drawn deep into their world with them. Good food and music are recurring motifs throughout the story and so is the Genesee valley. There is so much to admire artistically in this book, and with a catchy cover and a very high standard of presentation, it is a perfectly presented piece of fiction. Very, very highly recommended.

Pic from author's website
Pic from author’s website

Do check out this impressive and prolific author’s website: http://www.lazarbooks.com/

And don’t forget to buy the book from all branches of Amazon. The amazon.com link is here.

Nightmare in Burgundy

Nightmare in Burgundy is the third in the Winemaker’s Detective novel series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Blaen, featuring Benjamin Cooker. This adventure sees him in Burgundy where, at the beginning of the book, he is given the honour of being named Chevalier du Tastevin by the Knights of this order, who have, as their slogan, ‘Never whine, always wine’!

The morning after he receives this honour,  he is, not surprisingly, a little slow but is soon aroused to full capacity when he goes to inspect the graffiti that has appeared overnight in the country town Vougeot, where he’s staying. It inspires him since it’s in Latin, which isn’t usual for graffiti. Sadly, the locals think it’s young vandals, and two of them, the Mancenot brothers, shoot two teenagers whom they believe are responsible. Cooker, appalled by this vigilante justice, isn’t convinced they’ve got the right person.

An elderly friend of his, Brother Clément, helps Cooker determine what this Latin graffiti is all about. It’s a Psalm, and a rather foreboding one at that. Virgile, Cooker’s young and virile assistant, lends a hand too and the sleuthing begins in earnest.

Like its predecessors, this book is a wonderful combination of entertainment and education. We learn about wines, local folklore, history and, this time, some Latin. There’s suspense, suspicion, desperation, humour, lust and erudition. Benjamin Cooker displays his customary calm, loyalty and tenacity as he gets to grips with this definitely different mystery that faces him.

As you would expect from authors Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Blaen, there is some haunting imagery in this tightly-written, enjoyable novel. My favourite passage is: “In the distance, the massive silhouette of the Vougeot château seemed to be dozing in the middle of a burial ground of vines whose bony limbs and gnarled stumps were packed all the way to the back of the vineyard. A thick sky was brushing against the points of the tower where the crows were performing sinister and mocking spirals.”

If that doesn’t tempt you to want to read more of this book, then I’m not sure what will!

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Follow the rest of the book’s tour here.

And buy the book here.

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This book is an absolute delight from start to finish. But don’t read it – at least, not in a public place. It’ll have you smiling to yourself at the author’s light, lively smile, chuckling quietly at the faux pas, which are a normal part of expat life, that she shares with us and occasionally laughing out loud at the sudden ridiculousness of a crazy situation she finds herself in. And there’ll be the odd gasp of horror at the hair-tearingly-out stubbornness of French bureaucracy, and once or twice of admiration at our narrator’s partying stamina. People sitting in the airport terminal or doctor’s surgery around you shoot you looks of alarm and sidle quickly away from this clearly insane person giggling to themself!
Vicky Lesage shares the adventures of her early years in Paris, warts and all – and that’s what’s so wonderful. ‘Confessions’ is absolutely the right word to go in the title. The author doesn’t spare the French and she doesn’t spare herself. However, she only has a dig at French people when they deserve it, and is quick to admire all their good qualities, of which there are plenty. She’s less forgiving of herself, calling herself a ‘nerd’ now and again and worrying about her language skills. What she forgets to tell us is that Resourceful is her second name. There seems to be nothing she can’t cope with, and she tackles Paris head on – and wins!
We join Vicky as she finds friends, frustrations, places to live, fun, work, more frustrations and, on the way, the love of her life.
I honestly can’t think of anyone who won’t enjoy this book. If you’ve ever thought of going to France either to visit or to live, or even if you haven’t, you’ll get a sharp insight into what it’s like in this country. From the shopkeepers, who regard you as ‘Satan’s spawn’ because you want to pay with a €50 note, or, worse still, a credit card, to the fonctionnaires who always seem to withhold crucial information and thus complicate your life a million times more than it needs to be, to the bewildering number of public holidays, and finally to getting married there. Fabulous!
And as well as being a thoroughly brilliant book to read, it’s a showcase of good self-publishing practice. Here I put on my professional editor’s hat. We have the following:
• a classy, sassy cover
• an extremely well-written and well-presented text
• short, punchy chapters
• acknowledgements and table of contents at the end of the book: I wanted to dance when I saw that! Why? Well, these items take up valuable space in the free sample 10% or so that interested readers download when they’re considering buying an ebook. Given that an ebook opens at the last point you read to, you don’t need a contents list to find your page, so push that to the back. It’s there, but it’s not intruding, as are the acknowledgements. I’ve always advocated this approach but there’s been resistance. We’re too used to having these elements up front. Please, follow Vicky Lesage’s example!
• a chatty ‘about the author’ section, inviting us to review the book in exchange for a bonus story not in the book and to get in touch.

We have not only authoring, but indie authoring at its very, very best in this little gem of a book. It’s a self-publishing party in itself!

parispartygirl vickiAnd to finish, here’s a short extract from the first chapter.

 

Sister Mary Keyholder

I would like to say that when I first stepped off the plane and embarked on my new life in France, something memorable happened. Or something funny or amazing or romantic or at least worth writing about. Truth is, I don’t remember. I take that to be a good thing. Considering all the mishaps I’ve had since moving here, “uneventful” nearly equals “good” in my book.

Looking back all these years later, I see myself as a hopeful, naive girl full of energy stepping off that plane. Tired of running into my ex-boyfriend seemingly everywhere around my midwestern American hometown, and having been unceremoniously freed from my IT job, this fearless 25-year-old was ready for a change.
I had dipped my toes in the proverbial European pond over the course of several college backpacking trips and now wanted to experience living there. To wake up to the smell of fresh croissants, to drink copious amounts of wine straight from the source, and maybe meet a tall, dark and handsome Frenchman. Who was, of course, not a wienie.
Oh, to be back in the shoes (or flip-flops, as it were) of that intrepid girl, arriving in a new land, successfully commandeering the Métro and her luggage, triumphantly arriving on the doorstep of her destination.
The smooth sailing didn’t last long.
I had sublet an apartment for the summer from an unseen Irish girl, Colleen, using Craigslist. The photos showed a charming, yet tiny, apartment that I already pictured myself living in. You’d think this was where the story starts to go wrong, but the girl and the apartment did exist! Making it probably the last apartment to be legitimately rented online before scammers cornered the market.
For me, the issue was getting in to the apartment.
First I had to get the key. Colleen had agreed to leave it next door at the convent (Me? Living next to a convent? This’ll be good.) The Catholic schoolgirl in me had an overly romanticized notion of how a Parisian convent would look. I was expecting some sort of Gothic cathedral with nunny looking nuns. So I must have walked past the modern, imposing structure about twenty times, sure I’d been conned, before I noticed the sign. Ahem.
I retrieved the key using a combination of my shaky French and the logic that, c’mon ladies, how would anyone else have found out about this bizarre scenario and come knocking on your door?
“Bonjour, je m’appelle Vicki. Comment allez-vous?” I asked the group of navy-blue-clad, pious-looking women gathered inside the doorway.
The elderly (aren’t they all?) nun closest to me cautiously replied, “Pas mal. Et vous?”
Ack! What did she say? I was so busy forming my question I didn’t plan for her response! Just keep going, you can do it. “Je cherche une clef.” I’m looking for a key.
“Une clef?”
“Oui, une clef.” Now I know that’s not much to go on, but let’s be real. Do lost girls often come to their door? Hrm. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s how girls become nuns? Better speed this up before I get stuck in the nunnery, never to be seen again. “Colleen leave key? It’s for me.”
“Oh yes, a key! For an American girl. That must be you.” Was it that obvious? Was it my blonde hair? Wide, toothy smile? No, it was probably my command (or lack thereof) of the French language.
“You’re friends with Colleen?” she asked.
I wasn’t sure how to answer that since we weren’t really friends, but then again I wasn’t even sure that was the question. My French wasn’t up to the task of explaining how I knew Colleen, and for sure if I said we weren’t friends, Sister Mary Keyholder would never hand over the precious key.
“Yes,” I said with a smile, then promptly got the heck out of there.
Key and two heavy suitcases in hand, I headed to my new apartment building. The number on the front, 20, was written in the ornate curlicue script that most French buildings employ. The large windows of each apartment were fronted by black wrought-iron rails, providing the perfect vantage point from which to observe the goings-on of the street below. I eagerly punched the five-digit code into the digicode reader to the right of the door and was in.
Next issue: finding the actual apartment. You’d think this would be easy since Colleen had said it was on the third floor. Silly me, that seemed like enough information until I scoped out the situation.
Problem 1: Once inside the front door, I saw two buildings – one that faced the sidewalk (in which I was currently standing) and one past a quiet courtyard containing a few trees and a large, overflowing trash barrel. Which building was it?

 

Follow the rest of Vicky’s tour.

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Grand Cru Heist by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen is best summed up, I think, as a cozy mystery for men set in the ostentatiously wealthy world of winemakers and connoisseurs. There is a definite feeling of Gentlemen’s Club in the novel with erudite discussions and witty wordplay amidst a haze of cigar smoke. The characters we meet would definitely never confuse “a Bordeaux with a Burgundy”, and I’m not sure the same could be said for a lot of its readers. (I know I’d be struggling!) However, the book gives us a fascinating glimpse into this exclusive world.

Winemaker Benjamin Cooker is the victim of a carjacking in Paris. To recover from the unpleasant ordeal, he takes himself off to a rather nice hotel in Touraine to convalesce. Here he meets the British version of himself – Robert Morton, another man who likes his fancy motors and vintage wines. He’s also pulled into a murder when Morton’s young female companion is found dead, and shortly afterwards Cooker stumbles on another body. While this is going on, his friend Hubert de Boüard, owner of the Château Angélus, is suffering from burglaries and receiving clever, cryptic messages from the thieves. Cooker throws his returning energy and intelligence into working out what’s going on in both cases. He certainly does seem more clued up than the investigator from the gendarmes, especially when it comes to European car registration numbers. With the help from his assistant, Virgile, Crooker sets to.

The book is partly set in Bordeaux, without doubt the most beautiful city in France. (With my daughter at university there, I get to visit it every now and again.) If you know the city, but actually even if you don’t, you can really appreciate the descriptions of various parts of it that we find in the book. There are a few mentions of its history too. There is some lyrical writing (“The two pilgrims braved the west wind and the light rain that seeped into their bones, and for a while, they forgot their ages, their health, their ambitions, and perhaps even their own convictions”), and sharp observation (“Restaurants always seemed to be full of bored couples who enjoyed eavesdropping”). It’s tightly written, moves steadily and always with dignity, like Cooker himself, and is an intriguing mystery.

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I’ve mentioned the Gentlemen’s Club atmosphere, and this is a predominantly male book. There are some women amongst its pages, although they do stay in the background. There’s Cooker’s wife, Elisabeth, patient and loving, also a bossy nurse, a moody prostitute and an eye-catching waitress. They’re succinctly portrayed and, whilst minor characters, they’re certainly not shadowy.

Time for a very quick, gentle grumble. We get a ‘discretely’, meaning separately, where we need a ‘discreetly’, meaning stealthily, and teetotaler preceded by ‘an’ amongst the, admittedly, very few typos in this very well presented novel. However, to make up for that we get the lovely touch of the made-up term ‘Saint-Emillionnaire’ to describe someone who’s made a fortune from that type of wine. And I was delighted to see that Cooker’s dog is called Bacchus – I mean, what else! And to return briefly to our ‘an teetotaler’, the definition is wonderful and gives us a good idea of what our hero Benjamin Cooker is about. To him teetotalers are “A race of individuals not to be recommended…”, and the same can be said of the criminals Cooker helps to root out. (I’ve since been informed that I had an ARC – advanced review copy – of the book and that these and other typos will be sorted out in the final version.)

This is an enjoyable read. It’s quite a short book but, since it’s only the second of a promised series of twenty-two, then we can be consoled with knowing that there is plenty more entertainment coming our way from these two authors.

grandcru authorsPhoto is copyright of David Nakache

Follow the rest of this enchanting book’s virtual tour by visiting the France Book Tour  website.

 

 

sevenminutesWill has recently been made redundant so he’s taking care of the farm and family while his wife commutes abroad to work for the mother she’s never got on with. There’s not much demand for history of art graduates and job hunting isn’t going well. So when Will finds an untitled book on his doorstep, he’s more than happy to let it distract it from what he should be doing. It’s a mysterious manuscript, presenting him with snippets from the lives of various people – Angelica, Sabina, the inappropriately named Clemence (he’s a boy), Helen, Louise and Mangikas – at key moments in their lives. These are their most powerful memories. They give Will fascinating insights into these memorable characters, but gradually he begins to see that their lives are connected to each other.

But what has all this got to do with him? Why has this book ended up on his doorstep? Did his wife, Sarah, write it? The mysteries in his life only deepen when he’s invited to what has to be the most bizarre interview he – and possibly anyone else – has ever had. And increasingly he finds himself drawn ever more deeply into the pages of the book. It’s almost as though a web is closing around him.

This is a fantastically imaginative novel from debut author Jessica Stritch. She has taken this idea of us each having our seven minutes of crucial memories, which is intriguing itself, and turned it into a fast paced, absorbing, highly original story. Every aspect of her writing is sharp and honed, but her strength undeniably lies in her creation of characters. She gives us people from not only different walks of life, but also of different nationalities and at various ages. Whether interacting with others, or wrestling with their own beliefs, they are persuasive and empathetic. Given the diversity of the people we meet in the book, the settings vary from sunny Greek beaches to a car race track to boarding school to wartime Germany, to give a few examples. Like Will, the reader can’t help but be drawn into their lives. There’s an unexpected but welcome twist as the novel reaches its climax making this a rewarding and very polished piece of fiction indeed.

You can buy the book here at Amazon.com and at all Amazon branches.

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REVIEW:

Here in France, it’s normal to be presented with an amuse-bouche when you go to a restaurant. An amuse-bouche is a small, tasty hors d’oeuvre, designed to both whet your appetite and show you what the chef is capable of, and, most importanly, leave you wanting more.

A Crusty Murder is J M Griffin’s amuse-bouche. It’s a fairly short but wonderfully tempting and enjoyable novel filled with delicious characters as well as food. It’s a mouth-watering mystery and a tasty introduction to a new series from this author. This is apparent from the very first paragraph:

Crusty bread protruded for her mouth, a dreadful halo of dark red blood pooled around her head. But, it wasn’t a halo. It was a nightmare scene before me. I peered closer touching the bit of bread. My fingers brushed her skin. I gasped and jumped back. Mrs. Peterson was dead.

What a thing to find in the kitchen. However, our heroine, Melina Cameron is as resourceful as she is a skilled baker. She copes surprisingly well with this gruesome discovery of her dead landlady, but when another body with associations to her turns up, the heat goes up. Melina now has to prove her innocence as well as keep her bakery, The Hole in the Wall, going. The finger is also pointing at Melina’s best friend and neighbour, Betty-Jo so the two of them unite to track down what’s behind these deadly events.

And as if that’s not enough, there’s her grandmother to cope with. She’s something of a handful, a twenty-year-old trapped in a seventy-year-old’s body!

Luckily there’s Aidan Sinclair, a handsome Scotsman here on business, to lend a hand. He’s not the only man to find Melina attractive. Detective Graham is also rather smitten, but he also seems rather too keen to pin the murders on her too!

The characters are particularly strong. They’re all fascinating in that they’re all very real with their quirks and flaws. Between them they create a rich atmosphere of coziness with intrigue at its centre, a bit like the wonderful empandas that are cooked up: unassuming pastry on the outside but a surprizing filling on the inside.

So we have murder, romance, friendship, tension and wonderful food all in the same book. It’s a well written novella, which I thoroughly enjoyed, fulling showing off the versatility and talent of the author and tantalizing us to want more bites of this series.

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AUTHOR BIO:

J.M. Griffin/Dana Stone grew up in rural Maine. She relocated to Rhode Island and lives in the north western part of the state with her husband and two cats. J.M.’s first published novel For Love of Livvy, began a series of humorous mysteries featuring Lavinia “Vinnie” Esposito. J.M. has also written a romance under the pseudonym Dana Stone.

ONLINE LINKS:

  • Blog  http://mycozymysteries.blogspot.com
  • Facebook  danastone.5815
  • Twitter  mycozymystery

BUY NOW LINK:

 

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Image courtesy of Chanpipat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

BCP Creative Dreams is Backover Promotions online magazine which is featured in their tour section of their site for a 3 post bundle.

BCP Creative Dreams is also available free for anyone that books a tour through them.

1 post in Creative Dreams is £2 – to book a slot please contact them kate[at]backcoverpromotions.co.uk

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Win paperbacks, magick wands, and a $25 Gift Card! (see below)

Warrior Faeries and Math Magick by Susan Kaye Quinn

My new middle grade fantasy, Faery Swap, is about a fourteen-year-old boy who is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut.
2 minute book trailer
In my prior life, I worked for NASA and got a lot of degrees in engineering. (Yes, I really am a rocket scientist and have the Ph.D. to prove it!) I used the logical-left-side of my brain to design aircraft engines and study global warming. Now that I write fiction, I love using the creative-right-side of my brain to create compelling characters and dramatic adventures as well as the logical-left-side to weave math, science, and technology into my stories. Math and science have always seemed wondrous to me, so it made sense to me that the warrior faeries in Faery Swap would steal mathematical knowledge from humans in order to enhance their magickal faery powers.
In my story, knowledge is literally power.
I’m passionate about this message – that knowledge is power and math is magick - and the ethical use of that knowledge is a key theme throughout the story. I wanted to share this message, so I created a Virtual Author Visit, Common-Core-based Teacher’s Guide, and a card-based game, so any teacher, anywhere on the planet, could share this message with their students.

9 minute Virtual Author Visit

In this video, I share my background in science and engineering and talk about the book, then show how humans use math in the real world to do amazing things… even without magick to help them. The Teacher’s Guide, activities, card game, and videos are meant flexible – teachers and librarians can spend as little as 2 minutes sharing the trailer or they can use the materials to create a whole unit around the book and the Knowledge is Power When Math is Magick theme.

My hope is that some of my love for math and science will rub off on young readers, and that kids will see they each have an inner warrior faery capable of seeking knowledge and performing great deeds with it!

(Click here to find out more about the Virtual Author Visit).


Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says “Author and Rocket Scientist” and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she’s up to.
Faery Swap
Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut.

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Previous Articles:

February 27th 2014: Why I’m “Lost:” the Peers of Beinan, world-building, and the “Lost Tales” by Laurel A. Rockefeller

February 28th 2014: Herbert’s Dilemma by Mysti Parker

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Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for I See London, I See France by Paulita Kincer. I’ll begin with my review of this beautifully written and engaging novel, and then we’ll hear from Paulita.

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Review

“What have I done?” I silently asked. “I’m stepping off into this madhouse with my children.”

Which parent hasn’t asked themselves that at some point when they’ve taken drastic action of some sort? (I know I did during the early months after we moved to France!) This is the question Caroline poses herself when she decides to go to Europe with her three children after her marriage to Scott crumbles. She’d spent time in France as a young woman in Aix-en-Provence and Corsica and has interesting memories of the country, and especially of the attractive Jean-Marc, which are shared with us through the book. And so she is drawn back there, via London, Cornwall, Scotland and Paris.

The various settings are portrayed in wonderful detail – the scenery, the people, the sights and smells. The physical journey reflects Caroline emotional journey as she tries to decide what to do with her future, how to proceed from this point of marital breakdown. London is the businesslike, responsible Caro, whereas the wilds of Scotland, and the exotic Gustave, see her starting to shake off her inhibitions and worries. But it still seems her happiness prove to be as elusive and possibly fictional as the Loch Ness Monster. But then comes Paris, some self-realisation, and the next stop is Aix-en-Provence. She meets up with some people from her past, and at the same time finds her life is taking “a relaxing turn” and “is easier here”. And Jean-Marc reappears, and also Gustave.

And so briefly on to Italy and Scott…

The novel is absorbing, beautifully written and fabulously enjoyable. It also offers us a gentle reminder that relationships need working at. It’s too easy to take certain things for granted or get stuck in a behavioural rut. Teenage first crazy love is contrasted with married love and life, temptation with loyalty, self-indulgence with duty. There’s comedy, sadness, romance, bitterness, temptation, discipline – Paulita Kincer keeps us gripped. Caroline is a sympathetic heroine, honest and genuine, but most of all human. She’s not superwoman, although she comes fairly close at times in my opinion. She’s someone we can admire. Above all she’s warm and caring and real and we can see ourselves in her shoes.

Do read this touching, inspiring novel, available here from Amazon.com.

And Paulita’s website is here.

And now let’s hear from Paulita.

 

Interview with Paulita

Paulita Kincer

Stephanie, Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your blog today. I feel like I just dropped by your lovely gite for a mid-morning coffee klatch. I know, tea for you, but I’ll have a café crème without the spoon left in the cup.

 1.      What’s the story behind I See London, I See France? Why did you write it?

This book began long ago when my husband and I first traveled to France with the kids. They were 2, 4 and 6 years old. I wrote a “memoir” of sorts for us. Thinking of how difficult that trip was, I imagined what it would be like to handle three kids on your own in France and how desperate someone would be to try that. That’s what became the idea for I See London I See France. Also, marriage can be tricky. Everyone has down times and up times. It’s easy to start longing for that French love who got away during a down time.

2.      Please describe your novel in 100 words.

An unhappy American woman sells her minivan and uses the proceeds to escape to Europe with her three kids in tow. She’s searching for joy and thinks that a previous French love might be the answer. Along the way, she’s distracted by a handsome gypsy and the travails of motherhood, all in gorgeous vacation settings.

3.      How does the cover encapsulate your novel?

Originally, I’d pictured a book cover with a bicycle leaning against the front of a French country house. When I couldn’t find that, I went with the iconic Eiffel Tower. It definitely lets the readers know where the novel takes place. This picture is especially meaningful because my son Tucker took it on a class trip to France last year.

4.      Which do you prefer – London or Paris?

Definitely Paris – no offense to anyone who loves London. Most of the action takes place in France with just a brief touchdown in London, western England and Scotland.

The title for the book actually comes from an American childhood rhyme.

I See London

I See France

I See Stephi’s underpants

Since Caroline, the main character, is traveling with her children, I thought the rhyme would help readers make that link. I didn’t count on the rhyme not being universal though.

5.      Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I just finished your book, Stephanie, which I enjoyed. I like to read memoirs set in France, but I really love any kind of fiction, usually written by women. Last week I read After Her by Joyce Maynard. Marian Keyes is one of my favorite authors so I’m always on the lookout for something by her.

6.      When did you first realize you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I have notebooks full of pioneer stories that I wrote as a little girl. I used to take my notebook and a peanut butter sandwich and leave the house early in the morning to find adventures to write about.

7.      Tell us briefly about what book’s coming next.

I’m writing a novel called Paris Runaway. It’s about a divorced mom whose 17-year-old daughter disappears. The mother learns she’s followed a French exchange student from Florida to Paris. The mother goes after her and learns a lot about herself while in pursuit of her daughter.

8.      What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Keep writing. Don’t stop to admire your work after you’ve finished one novel. The next one awaits, and they usually just get better as you keep going.

9.      What does your family think about you being an author?

My daughter is 22 now and she is a great cheerleader for me. She tries to stay on top of my social media. My boys are 20 and 17, and they aren’t so interested in my books. My husband has to juggle his editor hat and his husband hat to offer me criticism and support. And my parents, well, it’s kind of embarrassing the way they are always trying to sell my books to people.

10.  OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?

Chocolate, wine and cheese. Is that too cliché? Well, maybe that’s one of the reasons why I love France so much. Okay, how bout:

A nice flaky croissant with melted chocolate in the middle

Little squares of goat cheese on salad

A sweet dessert wine

 

Thanks so much for interviewing me for your blog and thanks to all of the readers who love reading about interesting characters who find adventures, whether within themselves or out in the world.

 

Thank you Paulita, and I wish you every success with your marvellous novel. 

 Click here to find out where else Paulita is visiting on her book tour and enter the giveaway here.