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FrenchVillageDiaries "Enjoying the quiet life in rural France" (France)

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Summer at the Little French Guesthouse: A feel good novel to read in the sun (La Cour des Roses Book 3)
Summer at the Little French Guesthouse: A feel good novel to read in the sun (La Cour des Roses Book 3)
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Helen has left the best to last to finish this great series, 19 July 2017
In the third and final book in the La Cour des Roses series by Helen Pollard; Summer at the Little French Guesthouse, we find ourselves back in the Loire Valley in France with Emmy, where alongside running the guesthouse with Rupert, she is establishing her own business and planning her imminent wedding to Alain.

It was great to be back. I slipped between the pages easily, loving being back with characters that have become familiar and whose company I enjoyed like good friends.

Throughout the series Emmy has established herself as someone dependable, who can be relied on to keep calm in a disaster and organise everyone into a happy ending. However, this time it’s her happy ending that is in jeopardy. She finds herself up against her controlling mother, who has the ability (as some mothers do) to make Emmy feel like a rebellious teen once again over the finite wedding details. Things are also complicated in Alain’s family, meaning lots of drama for our usually cool and collected bride-to-be. There were certainly enough last minute hiccups to raise my heart rate as I was reading it.

I can honestly say there was nothing I didn’t enjoy about this book and although books one and two in the series are very good, Helen has left the best till last. I’m sad to be saying goodbye and can’t help feeling how lovely it would be to book a holiday there. Meet my friends for real, take a stroll around the market, listen to the Jazz band and of course sample one of Rupert’s delicious meals.

I can only hope Helen continues to take us to France in her future books.

Wherever you are going on your holidays this year, take one (or all) of these books with you; I can’t recommend them enough.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher.


La Vie En Rose: Notes From Rural France
La Vie En Rose: Notes From Rural France
Price: £0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read Susie, thank you., 17 July 2017
Susie Kelly and Blackbird Books are on a roll. One month after the launch of her brand new memoir Safari Ants and Baggy Pants, they have now released La Vie En Rose: Notes From Rural France.

While not an entirely new release, La Vie En Rose is a collection of Susie’s blog posts from October 2010 handily compiled in one place; her musings on daily life in rural France. From strange dreams to nightmare customer service, and dining room disasters to quirky neighbours, there is a little bit of everything, all served up with Susie’s sense of humour that never fails to make me smile.

Initially I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about reading a collection of blogs as a book, however, life has been rather hectic of late and having the energy to read, follow and remember complex plots at the end of the day was proving impossible. Being able to dip into a few snippets of Susie’s life before falling asleep put a smile on my face and was just what I needed.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher


Madeleine project
Madeleine project
by Clara Beaudoux
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.24

4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating social history story, 12 July 2017
This review is from: Madeleine project (Paperback)
The synopsis of this book instantly piqued my interest. The romance of a forgotten life stored away in a basement, tinged with sadness because seemingly no one who knew Madeleine was interested in the memories it contained. As Clara begins to open each box and suitcase, she shares the contents on Twitter, and like discovering buried treasure, the anticipation and excitement about what else she might find soon builds up.

I originally thought this was going to be a book based on her Twitter story, however with the addition of some of her thoughts, it is actually a direct replication of her Twitter feed. This is unusual and at first it didn’t feel much like I was reading a book, more scrolling through my Twitter feed, however I soon began to appreciate the benefit – the photos. Clara’s way sharing of Madeleine’s life is a very visual one and the images of the boxes, envelopes and other personal effects are cleverly composed. It felt like I was there each step of the way and I found it difficult to stop scrolling through, intrigued to see what came next. Alongside the pictures, Clara talks to Madeleine, asking her questions about her life and the possessions she chose to keep hold of and I enjoyed her one-way dialogue. Like Clara, I felt a lot of affection for Madeleine and I learned a lot through her life and memories. I also began to wonder how many more ‘Madeleines’ there are, hidden away in lofts and basements, forgotten for now, but awaiting the right person to discover them.

This is a fascinating social history project and I’d like to thank Clara for sharing her discovery with the world and doing so with respect and compassion.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher.


The Chateau of Happily-Ever-Afters: a laugh-out-loud romcom perfect for summer!
The Chateau of Happily-Ever-Afters: a laugh-out-loud romcom perfect for summer!
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A summer in France, with a difference., 7 July 2017
Wendy is emotionally damaged and mourning the death of her elderly neighbour Eulalie, the closest thing to family she had, when her life changes forever. Having witnessed Eulalie’s frugal life in a tiny flat in London, it is a shock to discover she once lived in a château in France. It is even more of a shock to find she has left the château to Wendy in her will. However, joint ownership must go to Eulalie’s great nephew Julian, who is equally shocked, as he had no idea he had a great aunt, until she died.

This book is all about Julian and Wendy getting to know each other, learning about Eulalie and their château in France and in doing so, discovering things about themselves too.

To begin with Julian is an annoyingly organised and upbeat ‘git’ (to steal Wendy’s word), but I soon found it was Wendy I was feeling annoyed with. It’s always good to ‘feel’ emotions about a character when reading, but I just wanted to shout, “Seriously girl, cut the whinging and sulking and just enjoy the view.” I certainly don’t think I’d have minded sharing a château with Jules.

I will admit that I was a little concerned (from the title) that this would be a slushy, lovey-dovey read. Thankfully I soon realised I had nothing to worry about. What I found was a love story that had more emphasis on falling in love with a château and it’s land in France, than slushy coupling. I might not live in a château, but I know the feeling of falling in love with France quite well and I did experience that familiar warm and squishy feeling I get when I think about our own orchard in France – nowhere near as grand, but Jaimie obviously ‘gets’ the buzz about growing your own produce and cooking with it, just like I do. From freshly baked breads and cakes, to old recipes using local produce, there were many times this book made my mouth water.

Eulalie was my favourite character. A real spark, with mystery and a wicked sense of humour and just like Jules, I wished I’d known her too. Throughout the book the château gives up some of Eulalie’s secrets to Wendy and Jules, but I’m sure there is more to learn. In so many ways this book finished leaving me wanting more and if I may be so bold Jaimie, I’d love to return and see it running as a wedding venue; offering brides and grooms their own Happily Ever Afters.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher.


The Lost Girl
The Lost Girl
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gripping read from Carol Drinkwater., 29 Jun. 2017
This review is from: The Lost Girl (Kindle Edition)
Kurtiz Ross has been emotionally dead inside since daughter Lizzie’s disappearance four years ago; trying to live with the repercussions of the choices she made in the events that led up to Lizzie leaving home. Paris has offered her and Lizzie’s Dad Oliver the hope of finding their daughter, when tragedy hits tearing the city apart.

Time ticks by slowly as we join Kurtiz in a bar, awaiting news from Oliver and all the while Carol’s writing gives a sense of anticipation, unease and a knowing feeling that something is about to happen. At the neighbouring table, a lonely old lady, seeking company, tries to engage Kurtiz in conversation. They have no idea of the opportunities that will open up from that fateful night and the support they would be able to offer each other in the future.

Interwoven with the physical pain of grief and shock felt when your world is falling down around you, is the love story of Charlie and Marguerite. Two lost souls living in desperate times that called for risks to be taken, who found comfort in each other, despite their very different ambitions and pasts neither wanted to share.

We live in a troubled world and this book highlights the pain and emotion of ordinary lives caught up in disaster. Carol is able to make the reader feel the intense tiredness of not sleeping, of trying to function for hour after hour, conveying the horror and helplessness of the situation. This is a gripping novel, whose theme and emotions will stay with you. It is a not an easy subject matter, but it’s sensitively and powerfully covered. Carol draws on her knowledge of Paris, Provence and the Middle East to give structure and strength to her characters and their lives before we meet them.

There is guilt, grief, despair and regret but also a perfectly formed ending that offers hope and a future Kurtiz could never allow herself to believe in.

You should add this book to your reading list this summer, but you will want to give it the time and concentration it deserves.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher.


Safari Ants, Baggy Pants And Elephants: A Kenyan Odyssey
Safari Ants, Baggy Pants And Elephants: A Kenyan Odyssey
Price: £3.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kenyan Safari sensitively shared with humour and memories of life in Kenya, 6 Jun. 2017
This is the latest travel memoir from Susie and once again I was captivated from chapter one. For me, being back in a Susie Kelly book is comforting as well as entertaining and this one didn’t disappoint.

If I had to describe this book in just one word, it would be thoughtful. Susie, who grew up in Kenya, returns with her husband Terry for the safari opportunity of a lifetime. She thoughtfully shares her Kenya with us; the sights and colours, the sounds and scents, as well as the fabulous meals they indulge in. While any good writer could bring a safari trip to life, Susie, who has over 50 years of love for the country, is able to add an extra dimension on top of her wide-eyed wonder and obvious joy at all they experienced. In this memoir she compares and contrasts the Kenya of her youth with what she finds today and adds her thoughts and experience when talking about the lives of the white settlers who brought such change to Kenyan life.

From Five-Star luxury, to slum schools, to elephant orphanages, every experience is described with honesty, sympathy and not forgetting Susie’s unique sense of humour. Her love for the people, the place and the life she led there came across and as her trip came to an end I could feel her ‘drinking’ Kenya; consuming as much of everything as she could to keep it within her.

Susie is a great ambassador for Kenya and through her I felt I had ‘seen’ a little slice of the real Kenya. While I’m unlikely to ever be able to follow in her footsteps, I’m sure for many readers, having read this book they will visit. For the rest of us, it’s the best safari experience you are likely to get, without going on safari!

I was sent a copy of this book by the author.


The Girl in the Shadows
The Girl in the Shadows
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Strong characters and plot kept me page-turning., 24 May 2017
Set in Paris, this book follows three troubled lives as they try to find answers to questions.

Alice, alone in the world now her Father has died, arrives in Paris in an attempt to find answers about her Mother. Although Alice was always led to believe she had died when she was a baby, something she finds in her Father’s possessions makes her hope she may still be alive and living in Paris. Her investigations get off to a slow start, but through her love of photography she makes a friend who makes Paris more fun, interesting and less lonely. Bit by bit details of her Mother begin to appear, but finding all the answers doesn’t seem to be as easy as she hoped; in fact her dream of a happy family reunion just seems to get further out of reach.

Veronique, a private investigator accepts the job of looking for the runaway daughter of a wealthy Parisian, despite feeling something is not quite right about the information provided by the family. The more she uncovers, the more questions arise to be solved and the further away the daughter seems to become. Meanwhile this case seems to throw her into the path of her ex-lover, which which forces her to ask herself questions about her future; questions she finds hard to answer without delving too far into her own troubled past, something she has always tried her best to forget.

Mathilde is the most mysterious and probably the most troubled of the three; always slightly removed from the main action and managing to stay one step ahead of those who are looking for her. I could feel a real sadness coming from Mathilde and needed to find out exactly what had made her run.

This book has a good mix of strong characters; some are likeable, some are not. The Paris described feels real; from the cafés, to the seedy nightlife and the air of celebration for Bastille Day. With a good pace, lots of twists, plenty of action and some great detective work it became impossible to stray too far from; even when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it and wondering just how the mysteries would be brought to a close and who, if anyone, would get their happy ending.

I’ll certainly be looking out for more from Katherine and if you like strong detective mysteries, or just books set in Paris, I’m sure you will enjoy this one.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher.


Just for the Holidays: Your perfect summer read!
Just for the Holidays: Your perfect summer read!
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family dramas, frustrated passions and lots of chocolate, it's the perfect mix, 18 May 2017
In Just For the Holidays we meet Leah, a saint amongst sisters, who is emotionally blackmailed by big sister Michele to join her fragmented family on holiday in Alsace. Although she doesn’t realise it at the time, the list of family traumas she will end up dealing with could have filled a parenting magazine, which for a single, childfree, ultra cool Auntie, is impressive. Thankfully she has back up.

First it’s chocolate, and with Sue’s delicious descriptions I too could imagine the taste of the delights whipped up to diffuse the tensions of the hormonal teenagers trying to come to terms with their family troubles. Then there is Ronan, single Dad to another teenager, handily located next-door, and happy to offer his support to Leah. Let’s face it; what female could resist a man with the combination of the toned body of a helicopter pilot, with a vulnerable side too.

Sue’s characters are vibrant and believable. I loved Leah, who comes across as strong and independent, despite being somewhat coerced into a tricky situation by her sister, who quite frankly I could have slapped. There are many emotions that run strongly throughout the book and that I felt within me as I read; from the confused tears of a teenager coming to grips with adulthood, to the frustrated passions of new love. Sue’s obvious love of Alsace as a location also stands out. It is an area of France I have wanted to visit for a while now and Sue has certainly strengthened my resolve to get there.

This is a great family drama, packed full of fun, love, laughter and tears that needs to be on your holiday packing list this summer.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher.


Curious Histories of Provence: Tales from the South of France
Curious Histories of Provence: Tales from the South of France
Price: £2.86

5.0 out of 5 stars The entertaining writing style and fun facts are a winning combination., 17 May 2017
This book will teach you interesting facts about Provençal customs, traditions and history as well as give you ideas about what to see and where to go while in Provence. You will meet monsters, dragons and saints, gypsies, bulls and white horses plus learn about kings, Gardians and scholars. And that’s just a selection of what is on offer!

For a short break in Provence, this is the only guidebook you will need. It is quick and easy to read; so a perfect choice to get you into the mood for your holiday in Provence if you’re lucky enough to have one planned. If not, you will at least feel like you’ve been there. It’s also an entertaining and informative read that will ensure you want to return to Provence to discover all it has to offer.

I was sent a copy of this book by the author.


My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream
My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream
Price: £1.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written memoir about life in rural France, 10 May 2017
An accidental house hunt, while on a day trip to France from London, led Janine and husband Mark to the home of their dreams just over The Channel in northern France. With a writing style that is gentle and relaxed, much like how she describes life in the area she lives in, Janine takes us with her as she gets to know the area, the locals and more importantly works hard to turn a run down farmhouse into something quite special.

To begin with, France was still a holiday destination for them, albeit working holidays, and Janine writes openly about the emotional journey to making the move permanent and how difficult it can be to adjust. There may only have been two of them to start with, but when the local animal population realised they had arrived, things began to change. As someone who moved to France with a toddler and two cats and was happy for it to stay that way, but ended up with ducks, chickens, a goose, rabbits and a dog, I loved her tales of the animal antics that have become part of her daily life in rural France.

Every area in France has it’s own fêtes, festivals and celebrations of local history and traditions and Janine explains those unique to her area in a way that will make you want to visit somewhere that isn’t often on the main tourist map and experience it for yourself. I remember fondly our day trips to France, stocking up on wine and food, driving our Mini Cooper along twisty back roads, heading away from Calais and searching out the real France, even if just for a few hours. Those happy, carefree days of twenty years ago when we fell in love with France came flooding back as I read this book. Sadly, since moving to France in 2004, Calais and the surrounding area is somewhere we pass through as quickly as possible while making the twelve-hour drive from home to the UK and back again. Janine is a great ambassador for this region and has made me realise how much I am missing, zooming along the autoroutes and passing through, rather than stopping and enjoying.

This book has everything a good memoir should have; an interesting story to tell, the ability to write openly about the ups and downs of life, while also including humorous observations of the French way - their fondness for speech making in particular made me laugh out loud.

If you, like me, enjoy memoirs about life in France, you will love this one and it might even inspire you to seek out the Seven Valleys on your next French adventure.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher.


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