I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! And I’m not just saying that because it’s by my crit partner Cathy Pegau. It’s creepy, intriguing, has lots of action, and some romance all mixed in.
Grace Carter, a “source” of magic, has spent the last nine months searching for Maggie Mulvaney, her “catalyst.” The joy of reuniting with her partner—and her lover—is thwarted by her worst fear: Maggie remembers neither Grace nor their life together in the Order of Saint Teresa, the centuries-old organization that trained them to be the strongest demon-hunting duo in generations.
When Maggie and Grace unexpectedly come face-to-face with the demon Horde, they are forced to team up once again. As they begin to piece their lives back together, they discover that their memories have been masked by someone within the Order. Should the Horde succeed in their plan, those who have committed their lives to slay worldly demons will be relegated to little more than minions as humans are completely enslaved.
Now, Grace and Maggie must sacrifice everything, possibly even their love, and their lives, in an all-out battle to save humanity.
Buy the Book! (you won’t regret it, it’s fabulous):
Beaulieu Delhomme, a piano tuner, faces the guillotine for committing treason against the newly elected French president due to his part in the bloody worker uprisings in 1848. The one person who could save him from this fate is his former arch-rival, the celebrated author, George Sand. The plot leading to his imprisonment revolves around the triangle of composer Frédéric Chopin, his lover George Sand, and Delhomme, Chopin’s loyal piano tuner. Both Sand and Delhomme compete for the attention of Chopin, who fights a losing battle with tuberculosis. The president’s spymaster uses this triangle to lure cash-strapped Delhomme into exploiting his friendship with Chopin to spy on George Sand, whose fiery rhetoric threatens the new president.
At first, before the uprisings that marked a tumultuous period out of which France’s Second Republic grew, Delhomme favors preserving the status quo because any policy changes might jeopardize his (and Chopin’s) wealthy client base. Sand wields her pen against the oppressive laws and ridicules Delhomme for his views.
Delhomme changes his opinion of the monarchy when he sees how his nephew is abused as an orphan working in a piano factory in industrial London. Delhomme becomes a double agent, paid to spy for the president while secretly working for the resistance. Sand softens her contempt when she discovers that he has switched allegiances and now promotes workers’ rights.
Delhomme is caught working for the resistance, jailed in Paris’ infamous Conciergerie prison, and faces a trial for treason. Even Sand’s testimony is not enough to trump that of the vaunted spymaster, but her fame may be enough to persuade the new president to pardon him.
CHAPTER 10 Sand’s Diary – Rating Men
Chopin’s touch is so gentle, as if he thinks I might break by pressing too hard. Of course, that is preposterous that I would break. No one would ever call me fragile. But it thrills me to be treated that way. His kisses are so sweet and equally delicate, like being caressed by the wind.
He and I have a different relationship than I am used to. Good God, that brute Mallefille treated me like a prostitute. He had his way with me so often that the only thing missing was the payment for services. That can be thrilling, but other times, it feels as if I am on a construction crew: “George, do this. George, do that. Slower . . . slower now faster faster.
Chopin is like a dance partner who senses my moods and needs. I hope all my past lovers read this. Do you hear me? My moods and needs. Not just yours. Lovers should receive and give. I can tell so much about a man when we are in bed. Does he treat me like a farm animal? Or does he look at me, talk to me, tell me he loves me, and mean it? Behavior in lovemaking reveals a man’s true personality and deep-seated view of women: Are they chattel or your equal? Which is it? It should be the first step in any relationship.
Sometimes, I do not even need to go through the tedious process of sleeping with them. For example, I instinctively knew that Liszt would be an aggressive and bossy beast, throwing his lover around and pouncing on her like a lion capturing a zebra, not caring a jot about her. And . . . I was right.
Chip-Chip would never demand I do anything. He cherishes me, and I adore that. I adore him.
I do not care for men who are on the other side either—too wishy-washy, waiting for me to orchestrate things. “Tell me what you want, darling.” I want to be made love to! I want someone to take my soul to the moon and back, not make me feel as if I am the conductor of a train. I run the other way from those sorts.
But the worst are those men who treat the whole event like a job. In and out, in and out. No passion, no inkling there may even be a second person in the room, let alone the bed. I find it an ideal time to develop characters and plots while undergoing such quotidian maneuvers. And I may even blend the experience into a story. I call it ‘secret sex’ because only one of us is having it. And it is not I.
Such are the pitfalls of an untethered life. But I can be either master or mother, not both; being somebody’s mistress takes too much time.
One thing I cannot abide, no matter how suave and tender, is a malodorous man. That oaf who almost raped me in the convent when I was sixteen stank to high heaven—a putrid, bitter, unforgettable smell too. It signals helplessness to my brain. Perhaps workmen like that man cannot escape such a fate because they labor in the hot sun, and perspiration dries on their bodies and clothes. But, to bring that reek into bed and then expect me to muster romantic feelings is unforgivable and certainly antithetical to their aim. What does one say to such an inconsiderate muttonhead to encourage better hygiene? For once, I am at a loss for words. I have no recourse but to expel him post haste. Smell may be one thing, but given the panic that that smell triggers, I would advise any suitor eying my bed to check his underarms first.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Photo Credit: Austin Irving
is an educator, writer, journalist, linguist,
and piano tuner.
She holds a Master’s degree in journalism and English education,
as well as a Doctorate in linguistics
from the University of New Mexico.
She has taught composition for many years in the U.S.,
Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and Russia.
Her overseas work led to an interest in comparative education,
especially critical thinking.
Both observations and research led to her book and blog, Critical Thinking Now.
In 2019, she was a recipient of Go Back, Give Back,
a fellowship through the State Department
to train teachers in St. Petersburg, Russia.
A resident of Edmonds, Washington, Burkhalter loves to travel, write, and learn languages.
You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blog participating in this tour. Visit/Follow the participating blogs on Facebook/Twitter, as listed in the entry form below, and win more entry points!
As the entire world is impacted by COVID-19, a group of talented Canadian authors and authors with Canadian roots have come together to bring you short stories in multiple genres, each one surrounding essential workers.
All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to a Canadian charity that provides relief during the pandemic.
Join 30 True North authors and allow yourself to be captivated from a social distance.
Geri Glenn 🍁 C.A. King 🍁 Cameron Allie 🍁 V.J. Allison 🍁 Cassia Brightmore 🍁 AW Clarke 🍁 M. Jane Colette 🍁 Michelle Corchis 🍁 Allison M. Cosgrove 🍁 Tricia Daniels 🍁 Carey Decevito 🍁 Brianna Galway 🍁 Gillian Jones 🍁 Andrea Joy 🍁 Jean Kelso 🍁 Bethany-Kris 🍁 JA LaFrance 🍁 C.J. Lazar 🍁 Sue Langford 🍁 K Logan 🍁 Leah Negron 🍁 Lorne Oliver 🍁 DD Prince 🍁 Jennifer Rose 🍁 Crystal St. Clair 🍁 P. Stormcrow 🍁 Kadian Tracey 🍁 J.M. Walker 🍁 Scarlett Wells 🍁 Tracy Willoughby 🍁
Nazi Germany is ruled by Hitler’s barbaric policies of racial cleansing. Ingrid Marchand’s only sin was to be born black. Horrifying institutions like Hadamar are where the undesirables – including the mentally and physically disabled and children – are systematically tortured, gassed and executed. It is where Ingrid is humiliated and brutalised and will encounter a depth of hatred the world has never seen before.
On the brink of starvation, can Ingrid survive the horrors of her incarceration and help bring her tormentors to justice?
Hadamar is a gripping tale of survival in a world of hatred, horror and insanity.
Hadamar was a tough book to read. It’s not that it was poorly written, because it wasn’t. It was vivid, and compelling. However, the subject matter is pretty dark, given that the book is set in a hospital the Nazis created in order to kill those people (children and adults, though a lot of children) that they felt were not proper Germans, or were disabled or wrong.
Despite the dark subject matter, the book was compelling, and especially the protagonist, Ingrid. Ingrid is of mixed race, with a white German mother and a black French father. At first, her father is taken away, and then she is sterilized. That’d be enough, but then the Nazis take her away from her mother and move her to Hadamar.
The book covers until the end of the war, so there is a lot of historical detail, and a lot to take in. There is also a decent resolution, which I wasn’t certain of, given the subject matter.
This was well worth the read. I expect it would be of special interest to those studying WWII, or other subjects attached to it. I’d like to read other books by this author as their writing is strong and I expect they would do well no matter what their subject.
Excerpt – Chapter 1
Standing either side of me they placed their hands under my armpits, lifted me up off the chair and took me away to an adjacent room. Inside, there were medical stands with hanging bags, and metal trays bearing all kinds of silver tools. In the centre of the room was a bed. At the end were two leg clamps that resembled horse stirrups and on either side there were two more belts. The nurses threw me down heavily onto the bed and attached a black leather strap across my chest, forced my arms along the outer parts of the bed then fastened my wrists into place.
I tried to move my arms. I tried to flip my chest from side to side. It was useless. I went to kick my feet, but the nurses had a tight hold of them as they fixed them into the stirrups and strapped them into place. The two nurses covered their faces in white masks and gloves as the two Obersturmführer appeared. The older doctor paused over my abdomen as he pressed his fingers down on either side of my belly button. He turned around and reached for a large knife.
Hovering above me, the blade glinted in the artificial light as he twisted his hand. With his left hand he retrieved a small square of white bandage. Momentarily placing the knife beside me, he picked up a brown bottle, placed the bandage across the top and tipped it. After dabbing my belly with the bandage, he put the bottle down and picked up the knife once more. I watched on, utterly helpless.
He plunged the knife into me.
At first I felt nothing but the pressure of the scalpel as it drove its way in. I remember thinking that my blood was the same colour as anyone else’s. Then came the most excruciating pain I had ever felt; as if someone was driving a hot poker into my sides and twisting it around and around. I scrunched my eyes closed, but I could still feel the doctor’s careless cutting as he carved me up like a butcher hacking up a carcass. I begged myself to pass out but I couldn’t. Instead I opened my eyes, lifted my head as high as I could, and watched as he reached for another tool that looked like a pair of scissors. Unable to raise my head any higher I couldn’t see what he was doing, but I heard a loud clicking sound. Then I felt a needle being threaded through me.
He cut me again, on the second mark he had made. I felt the same sensation: the scalpel penetrating my skin, the same jagged slicing, the clicking sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason K. Foster
is an author, poet, freelance journalist and high school teacher.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Communications)
and Graduate Diploma in Teaching from WSU
as well as a Master of Arts (History) from Macquarie University
and a Diploma in Spanish from Macquarie University.
Jason is widely travelled having spent time in five continents and over fifty countries.
He has taught in Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain and Argentina;
experiences that bring a distinct range and unique world view to his writing.
He has published ten books in the true crime and historical narratives genres.
He has also been published the world over
with his work appearing in a range of mediums
from History magazines in the United States to Australian travel magazines
to Poetry Anthologies in the United Kingdom.
Buy the book: paperback and ebook available from the publisher, on Amazon, Google Play, or the App Store
You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blog participating in this tour. Visit/Follow the participating blogs on Facebook/Twitter, as listed in the entry form below,and win more entry points!
Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (March 19, 2019)
From the beloved author of Comeback Love and Wherever There Is Light, comes “a sweeping tale full of humor and heartbreak” (Karin Tanabe, author of The Diplomat’s Daughter) about the life-changing journey of a young man who travels from New Jersey to Khrushchev’s Russia and the beaches of Southern France to discover long-hidden secrets about his heritage.
In 1950s New Jersey, teacher Michael Daniels—or Misha Danielov to his doting Russian-Jewish grandmother—is at loose ends, until he becomes the host of a nightly underground radio show. Not only does the show become a local hit because of his running satires of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, but half a world away, it picks up listeners in a small Soviet city.
There, with rock and roll leaking in through bootlegged airwaves, Yulianna Kosoy—a war orphan in her mid-twenties—is sneaking American goods into the country with her boss, Der Schmuggler.
But just as Michael’s radio show is taking off, his grandmother is murdered. Why would anyone commit such an atrocity against such a warm, affable woman? She had always been secretive about her past and, as Michael discovers, guarded a shadowy ancestral history. In order to solve the mystery of who killed her, Michael sets out for Europe to learn where he—and his grandmother—really came from.
“Both heartbreaking and mesmerizing, Nothing Is Forgotten is the sort of book you won’t soon forget…Cold War Europe, lingering Nazi secrets, and the tragic history faced by millions of families not only bring this tale to life but will keep you turning the pages” (Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author) and will appeal to fans of novels by Anita Diamant and Kristin Hannah.
I didn’t know what to expect when I first started reading. Michael’s life was outside my own almost completely, both in experience and in the time frame. How to start to consider a teenage DJ who knew English and Russian and whose grandmother ran a candy store? I know, it’s fiction, and you’re supposed to relate. Even though I didn’t know what to expect, once I started reading, it was hard to put the book down! And there were twists and turns and details and trips that were (to me) completely unexpected, and completely intriguing. How Michael came to know Yuli, how his grandmother fit into things, how Yuli’s adopted papa fit… everything.
The book is vivid and compelling, and reminded me somewhat of reading Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It also reminded me somewhat of The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff, another excellent historical novel. I’m always delighted to find more that I can read and immerse myself into an historical period. I highly recommend this book!
“Golden draws a vivid portrait of the Cold War era, but it is the complex and unexpected connection between Holocaust survivors and their descendants that turns this book into a page-turner.” (RT Book Reviews)
“Nothing Is Forgotten is a Russian nesting doll of plot twists across continents and decades. This cleverly constructed Cold War tale, based on gripping true events, keeps readers eagerly anticipating what lies at its heart.” (Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children)
Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, novelist, biographer, and historian. He lives outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son. He is the acclaimed author of the novels Comeback Love, Wherever There Is Light, and Nothing Is Forgotten.
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (January 29, 2019)
From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female secret agents during World War II.
One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.
Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.
Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.
New York, 1946
If not for the second worst mistake of Grace Healey’s life, she never would have found the suitcase.
At nine twenty on a Tuesday morning, Grace should have been headed south on the first of two buses she took to get downtown, commuting from the rooming house in Hell’s Kitchen to the Lower East Side office where she worked. And she was on her way to work. But she was nowhere near the neighborhood she had come to call home. Instead, she was racing south on Madison Avenue, corralling her corkscrew hair into a low knot and taking off her mint green cardigan despite the chill so that Frankie wouldn’t notice it was the exact same one she had been wearing at work the previous day and question the unthinkable: whether she had gone home at all.
Grace paused to study herself in the window of a five-and-dime. She wished the store was open so she could buy some powder to hide the marks on her neck and sample a bit of perfume to conceal the stench of day-old brandy mixed with that delicious-but-wrong smell of Mark’s aftershave which made her dizzy and ashamed with every inhale. A wino sat on the corner, moaning to himself in sleep. Looking at his gray, lifeless pallor, Grace felt a certain solidarity. From the adjacent alley came the banging on a trash can, a sound marching in time with the thudding in her own head. The whole city of New York seemed green and hungover. Or perhaps she was confusing it for herself.
Sharp gusts of February wind cut across Madison, causing the flags that hung from the skyscrapers above to whip furiously. An old crumpled newspaper danced along the gutter. Hearing the bells of Saint Agnes’s toll half past nine, Grace pressed on, her skin growing moist under her collar as she neared a run. Grand Central Terminal loomed hulking ahead. Just a bit farther and she could turn left on Forty-Second Street and catch an express bus downtown on Lexington.
But as she neared the intersection at Forty-Third, the street ahead was blocked. Police cars sat three across, cordoning off Madison and preventing anyone from going farther south. A car accident, Grace suspected at first, noting the black Studebaker, which sat jackknifed across the street, steam billowing from the hood. More cars clogged the Midtown streets than ever these days, jockeying for space with the buses and taxis and trucks making deliveries. There did not appear to be another vehicle involved, though. A lone ambulance sat at the corner. The medics did not rush about urgently, but stood leaning against the vehicle, smoking.
Grace started toward a policeman, whose paunchy face pushed up from the high collar of his uniform, navy with gold buttons. “Excuse me. Will the street be closed for long? I’m late for work.”
He looked out at her disdainfully from under the brim of his hat, as if despite all of the women working dutifully in the factories to take the place of the men who had enlisted and gone overseas during the war, the notion of a woman holding a job was still laughable. “You can’t go this way,” he replied officiously. “And you won’t be able to any time soon.”
“What happened?” she asked, but the policeman turned away. Grace took a step forward, craning to see.
“A woman was hit by a car and died,” a man in a flat wool cap beside her said.
Taking in the shattered windshield of the Studebaker, Grace suddenly felt sick. “Such a shame,” she managed finally.
“I didn’t see it,” the man replied. “But someone said she was killed instantly. At least she didn’t suffer.”
At least. That was the phrase Grace heard too often after Tom had died. At least she was still young. At least there had not been children—as if that made it somehow easier to bear. (Children, she sometimes thought, would not have been a burden, but a bit of him left behind forever.)
“You just never know where it will all end,” mused the flat-capped man beside her. Grace did not answer. Tom’s death had been unexpected, too, an overturned jeep on the way from the army base to the train station in Georgia, headed to New York to see her before he’d deployed. They called him a casualty of war, but in fact it had been just another accident that might have happened anywhere.
A flashbulb from a reporter’s camera popped, causing her to blink. Grace shielded her eyes then backed away blindly through the crowd that had formed, seeking air amidst the cigarette smoke and sweat and perfume.
Away from the police barricade now, Grace looked over her shoulder. Forty-Third Street was blocked to the west as well, preventing her from cutting across. To go back up Madison and around the other side of the station would take at least another half an hour, making her even later for work than she already was. Again, she cursed the night before. If it weren’t for Mark, she wouldn’t be standing here, faced with no other choice to cut through Grand Central—the one place she had sworn to never go again.
Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.
M. Jane Colette has a steamy (very steamy) rom-com releasing just in time for the holidays! To celebrate, she’s sharing with us a short video, your choice of an NSFW (so dirty) or Cleanish (it is M. Jane Colette, so it’s as clean as she could manage–it was hard) excerpt, and a chance to win a PRINT copy of Text Me, Cupid. Check it out:
Text Me, Cupid
a (slightly) dirty love story for 21st century adults who don’t believe in true love… but want it anyway
MEET FLORENCE: I’ve done this before, looking for a partner or soul mate or someone-to-grow-to-love, and you know what? I’m done with that. Honestly. I’m just looking for some casual sex. All I’m interested in is a one-night stand, or several—not all of them with you. Just making it clear that I’m interested in playing with multiple partners. I don’t want to get attached and I don’t want you to get attached.
MEET WILL: I’m reeling from a recent divorce and incapable of having a meaningful relationship, possibly even a meaningful conversation. The only upside to my situation is that after fifteen years of monogamy I get to chase all the strange I want.
He’s freshly divorced and in denial. She’s twice-burnt and prickly. They’re a terrible idea. They know this. But every time their eyes meet, their clothes come off. Still—they’re not going to fall in love. They are not.
Not even if this one night stand has 365 days.
WANT A TASTE?
Here’s M. Jane Colette reading a semi-steamy (but still safe for YouTube and Facebook) excerpt from Text Me, Cupid:
M. Jane Colette writes tragedy for those who like to laugh, comedy for the melancholy, and erotica for people who like their fantasies real. She believes rules and hearts were made to be broken; ditto the constraints of genres. Her novels include Tell Me, Consequences (of defensive adultery), and the award-winning rom-com Cherry Pie Cure.
“I couldn’t stop reading this! The waiting, the need, the want, the desire… the story is a rollercoaster and I love it. Will and Florence are so vivid on the page, I was in agony with them from the start.” Alyssa Linn Palmer, author of Midnight at the Orpheus and Le Chat Rouge series
“No one does angst, family drama, hilarity, joy and eroticism better than M. Jane Colette!” DIANA SOBOLEWSKI, author of The Desire & Luxury Wine Series, (on Messy Christmas, Episode 1 of Text Me, Cupid)
“Text Me, Cupid was the first story I’d read by M. Jane Colette, and I love her fresh, taut style. Every word, every sentence counts. It’s smart and sexy. I can’t wait to read the rest!” Michelle Orloff, GoodReads + Amazon.com ARC Review of Delayed Valentine, Episode 2 of Text Me, Cupid
“M. Jane Colette writes complicated relationship dynamics into story lines that keep you off balance but leave you smiling in the end.” Amazon.ca Verified Purchase Review, Delayed Valentine, Episode 2 of Text Me, Cupid
“She spotlights those less than perfect relationships; often the source of hilarity in this author’s work. M. Jane Colette has a unique writing style. At least it’s unique to me. She believes in short sentences and sparse dialogue. Don’t worry, you will not be short changed in any respect. You’ll visualize and experience everything you’re meant to, including the angst, the joy, the funny bits and all of the eroticism. This author doesn’t succeed despite her minimalist approach. She succeeds because of it. M. Jane Colette has mastered doing more with less.” Amazon.ca Verified Purchase Review, (on Messy Christmas, Episode 1 of Text Me, Cupid)
“M. Jane Colette knows how to write characters.” Caught Between The Pages (on Consequences)
“I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a sexy, intelligent, complicated, and fascinating read about relationships that are as complex and difficult and wonderful and confusing as most relationships usually are.” Grey Matter (on Tell Me)
“This book is a cure for divorce, depression, loneliness, boredom, you name it. Laugh-out-loud funny from the first page!” Holly Owen, Alberta Romance Writers’ Association (on Cherry Pie Cure)
“Warning: You may breakout in spontaneous laughter, develop cravings for baked goods and become a life-long devotee of the author!” Carrie Austin Reviews (on Cherry Pie Cure)
WANT TO HEAT UP YOUR HOLIDAYS?
Price: $3.99 US (ebook), $14.99 US (paperback), $9.99-$19.99 (audiobook)
Can Amy’s rocky start in Paris turn into a happy ever after?
Amy didn’t realize how stale her life was until she jetted off to Paris without telling a soul—not even her husband—and had the adventure of a lifetime. Now as she tries to establish herself in the City of Light, she finds that despite a fun (and quirky) group of friends and the ability to indulge in French pastries whenever she wants, reinventing her life is much harder than she imagined.
Then on Amy’s thirtieth birthday, two unexpected visitors leave her wondering if she will soon be saying au revoir to Paris and the new life she’s struggled to build. Her estranged husband, Will, shows up—but is he interested in reconciliation or separation? And a young woman who arrives on Amy’s doorstep unleashes chaos that could push Amy out into the street.
As Amy’s Parisian dream starts to fall apart, she must decide: return to the stability of Will and Phoenix (if that’s even still an option) or forge her way forward in Paris? Amid secrets and surprises, set in enchanting gardens, cozy cafés, and glittering Parisian streets, Amy must choose between two very different worlds. And each has a claim on her heart.
I’ve read The Paris Effect (and reviewed it) and it didn’t take me long to dive right back in for its sequel (which I’d wished for, and so glad the author delivered!). Amy has established a life in Paris, though one that still seems a bit tenuous, as she is relying upon the goodwill of her friend Margaret for a place to live. She finds this to indeed be tenuous when Margaret has an unexpected guest, and that change leaves her more vulnerable than she expected.
It’s a struggle to write this review without giving away spoilers, so it’s going to be a bit short. Amy’s complications mount, and I couldn’t put this book down, wondering what would happen next, and how she’d get herself out of all the difficulties. I also was reading this on the plane on my way home from a trip to Paris, and I loved being able to relive some spots I’d visited. I may even have to re-read The Paris Effect, and then read this one again, just to have that fun once more.
I’m delighted to hear that The Paris Effect has been optioned for film rights. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to see the film/tv program soon!
K. S. R. Burns is the author of the Amazon bestseller, THE PARIS EFFECT, its upcoming standalone sequel PARIS EVER AFTER, and THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF WORKING GIRL: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. She has lived and worked in four countries and 22 cities, including Paris. No longer a wanderer, Burns now resides in the Pacific Northwest, where in addition to novels she writes a weekly career advice column for The Seattle Times.
How is it possible that the genius author of such 19th century classics as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest died destitute in Paris at the age of 46? In John Vanderslice’s vivid and heartbreaking novel, we meet Oscar Wilde after a two year incarceration in an English prison for gross indecency. Once free, his reputation and finances in ruins, he leaves England for Paris where, frequently inebriated, he stays in shabby hotel rooms paid for by his few, remaining friends.
In Vanderslice’s deftly-imagined portrayal, Wilde’s idiosyncratic and affecting greatness is revealed. Through his thoughts and interactions, we experience the heart and mind of a literary giant brought down by the “morals” of his time. For a while, Wilde manages to maintain his legendary sense of humor and joie de vivre, a superstitious religiosity, and the dogged pursuit of beautiful young men. Sadly, the formerly prolific author and raconteur no longer has the desire to write. Instead, he distantly observes the world and is ultimately felled by serious illness. It is at his funeral that his artistic reputation begins its slow rehabilitation as friends and a small devoted public flock to the church to honor the artist, who spoke openly about homosexuality, the hypocrisy of Victorian values, and the importance of art for art’s sake.
Almost immediately, you’re drawn into Oscar Wilde’s life. It only takes a page or two, and his personality is so vivid that I began to feel as if I might know him. I don’t know much about Wilde historically, so I can’t speak as to the accuracy (or not) of this fictional story to the real history, but to me it was very good at painting a vibrant picture of not only his life, but of Paris at the time.
I really felt for Wilde, and I knew that his decline was coming as I read, but the last part portrayed it well, in fits and starts as I’d imagine his last days would seem, sober and then not, in pain and then not. The book gives me a greater appreciation of Wilde, and I will have to seek out more of his work (I’ve only read Dorian Grey).
I’m also impressed with the writing of the author, John Vanderslice. I may also be looking up some of his other works, too!
I was provided this book by the author for an honest review.
“With elegant prose and a glittering wit of which Wilde himself would approve, John Vanderslice brings to life this agent provocateur’s final act. Masterfully merges insight and imagination with the historical and literary record to provide a portrait that is rich and nuanced and utterly compelling.” – Rachel Hall, author of Heirlooms.
“John Vanderslice lays bare the consequences of Wilde’s betrayal by those whom he loved and trusted. The Last Days of Oscar Wilde is a grim reminder of the destructive power of senseless persecution.” —Jennifer Steil, author of The Woman Who Fell From the Sky.
“A quiet, tender portrait of a literary giant.” Kirkus Reviews
John Vanderslice is the author of Island Fog (Lavender Ink), a collection of ten stories and two novellas set on Nantucket Island, named by Library Journal as one of the Top 15 Indie Fiction titles of 2014. A native of the Washington DC area, John has an MFA from George Mason University and a PhD from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL). After graduating from ULL in 1997, he began teaching at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), where he is a much loved professor of writing. His fiction has been published in many leading journals, as well as several anthologies, including Chick for a Day and The Best of The First Line.
Can a two-career couple really pick up stakes and move to Provence?
Keith and Val had a dream – to live in Provence, the land of brilliant sunlight, charming hilltop villages and the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean. But there were two problems: they weren’t French speakers and they had full-time jobs. So they came up with a plan…
Follow their adventures (and misadventures) as they quit their jobs, become consultants and split their time between two countries. Laugh along as they build a life in Provence, slowly mastering a new language and making friends with the locals over long meals and just a bit too much wine.
If you’ve ever dreamed of changing gears and learning what joie de vivre is really all about, you won’t want to miss this delightful book.
Fear the Beard My beard trimmer broke so I went to buy a new one at the Intermarché. I found it on the same aisle that had hair dryers and curling irons and things like that. Except that the beard trimmers were kept in a locked cabinet. Quoi?
I tracked down a clerk and asked her to unlock the cabinet so I could get the one I wanted, one that only cost about twenty bucks. She took it out but wouldn’t give it to me. No, no, that would not be secure, monsieur! Beard trimmers must follow a special security procedure! I think it must be like the one for a nuclear weapons factory.
First, I was told to go to the “Special Bureau” at the front of the store. I did that, expecting the lady there to give me the beard trimmer so I could go pay. Oh no, monsieur! That would not be secure! Instead, she gave me a long code to hand to the clerk in the checkout line. This mystified the poor clerk, who must only deal with women, children and clean-shaven men.
But eventually we sorted it out. I paid him and got another piece of paper, this one with a new code, to take back to the Special Bureau.
At this point, I was nervously expecting a retinal scan or maybe a cavity search, but happily I got my beard trimmer.
I asked the lady at the Special Bureau why beard trimmers were kept locked up while the much more expensive hair dryers were not. She looked around carefully, leaned forward and said in a low voice, “Because of the thieves!”
Yes, it seems that beard trimmers were the most-stolen items in Intermarché stores
nationwide, thus prompting the lockdown. I thanked her for this important news and held the trimmer tightly, scanning the parking lot as I walked carefully to my car.
Later I thought, is this really the best way to deal with the nationwide epidemic of beard
trimmer robberies? Is French society well served by having its thieves unable to trim their
beards, eventually looking like refugees from a ZZ Top concert? Maybe I should lead the other men in town for a protest march, a very French thing to do.
After trimming my beard, of course.
The title really says it all. One sip at a time. Lots of short pieces on living in Provence, and it’s easy to read a few in one sitting, or many (how about half the book? Let’s just say dinner was late that night!) As a not very skilled speaker of French, I could feel awkward along with them, and wince or nod or smile, and then laugh. The stories really make me want to go to Provence!
One anecdote that especially made me chuckle (and wince!) was France’s Worst Off-Ramp. Who knew that the French too had horribly designed roads? No traffic circles, cloverleafs…. just survival of the fittest. I wanted to clench my steering wheel with white-knuckled hands, if I’d had a steering wheel.
This book was a welcome indulgence, a way to live vicariously through the fun and travails of others. Now, though, I think I need to go book a trip to France.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keith Van Sickle
is a technology industry veteran
and lifelong traveler
who got his first taste of overseas life
while studying in England during college.
But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland
that made him really fall in love with Europe.
After returning to California, he and his wife Val dreamed of living abroad again
but were unable to find another expat gig.
So they decided to invent their own.
Now they split their time between Silicon Valley and St-Rémy-de-Provence,
delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.