Book review, excerpt, & giveaway: The Madonna of Notre Dame, by Alexis Ragougneau

The Madonna of Notre DameAlexis Ragougneau

on Tour September 12-21 with

The Madonna of Notre Dame

(thriller)
Release date: October 11, 2016
at New Vessel Press
ISBN: 978-1-939931-39-3 210 pages

Website
Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

Fifty thousand believers and photo-hungry tourists jam into Notre Dame Cathedral on August 15 to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. The next morning, a stunningly beautiful young woman clothed all in white kneels at prayer in a cathedral side chapel. But when an American tourist accidentally bumps against her, her body collapses. She has been murdered: the autopsy reveals disturbing details. Police investigators and priests search for the killer as they discover other truths about guilt and redemption in this soaring Paris refuge for the lost, the damned, and the saved. The suspect is a disturbed young man obsessed with the Virgin Mary who spends his days hallucinating in front of a Madonna. But someone else knows the true killer of the white-clad daughter of Algerian immigrants. This thrilling novel illuminates shadowy corners of the world’s most famous cathedral, shedding light on good and evil with suspense, compassion and wry humor.

EXCERPT

“Gérard, there’s a bomb alert. In the ambulatory. Serious stuff this time. Big.”

His shoulder wedged in the doorway, a huge bunch of keys hanging at the end of his arm, the guard watched the sacristan fuss around, open all the sacristy cupboards, and pull out rags, sponges, silverware polish, while muttering expletives of his own composition at regular intervals.

“Gérard, are you listening? You should take a look, really. Fifteen years on the job, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s enough to blow up the whole cathedral.”

Gérard interrupted his search and finally appeared to take an interest in the guard. The latter had just hung the keys on a single nail stuck in the sacristy paneling.

“Later on, if you like, I’ll go see. Is that all right? Are you happy?”

“What’s going on today, Gérard? Haven’t you got time for important things anymore?”

“Look, you’re starting to really piss me off. Thirty years I’ve been working here and it’s the same thing every year: every August fifteenth they have to make a goddamn mess in the sacristy. And I can never find anything the next day. I have to spend two hours cleaning up. I don’t understand why it has to be so difficult. They arrive, they put on their vestments, they do their procession and their Mass next door, they come back, they take off their vestments, and see you next year … Why do they have to go rummaging in the cupboards?”

“Tell me, Gérard, what have you lost?”

“My gloves. My box of gloves for the silverware. If I don’t have them I wreck my hands with their shitty products.”

“You want me to help you look? I’ve got time—just finished opening up.”

“Don’t worry, here, found them. I don’t know why it’s so hard to put things back where they belong, I mean, Jesus H. Christ …”

The guard fumbled in his pocket, inserted coins into the slit of the coffee machine, and pushed a button. He signaled goodbye to the sacristan and then, a steaming cup in his hand, started to walk back to the interior of the cathedral. Gérard caught up with him in the corridor.

“So tell me about your bomb … Worth seeing?”

“The works, I promise: the ticktock, the time switch, and the sticks of dynamite.”

“OK, I’ll go see later, before the nine o’clock Mass. Might still be there. Where’s your explosive device again?”

“In the ambulatory, outside the chapel of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. You’ll see—impossible to miss.”

MY REVIEW

It was a slow start for me, but this book was worth my patience. It’s been awhile since I’ve read any thrillers, and my last ones were books from translator/publisher Le French Book. (Their stable of authors includes Frederique Molay, Bernard Besson, David Khara, etc.) Once this book got going, I really couldn’t put it down. The first suspect seemed too easy, but I couldn’t identify another, and that questioning kept me reading. I like thrillers and mysteries where I can’t easily identify the killer(s).

What intrigued me the most, beyond the external plot, were the details involved in the running of Notre Dame, and of the ‘inside look’ at what it might take to organize and secure such a large and popular tourist destination. Locks, cleaning, security, filming, masses,… it all seemed to be there. I’d love to read a book solely on this background information.

Definitely an excellent read. I look forward to seeing what M. Ragougneau writes next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexis Ragougneau

Alexis Ragougneau
is a playwright and
The Madonna of Notre Dame is his first novel.
He has worked in Notre Dame Cathedral
helping monitor tourist crowds
and knows well its infinite secrets
and the forgotten souls who linger in its darkest corners.

Follow New Vessel Press on Twitter | on Facebook
Sign up to receive their latest news and deals.

Buy the book: on Amazon

***

You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below
.

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open to US residents:
1 winner will receive a copy of this book

 

***

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ REVIEWS AND AN EXCERPT

The Madonna of Notre Dame Banner

 

Book review & giveaway: Time and Regret, by M.K. Tod

Time And RegretM. K. Tod
on Tour September 1-10 with

Time and Regret

(historical mystery)

Release date: August 16, 2016
on Amazon

ISBN: 978-1503938403
366 pages

Author’s page | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

Through her grandfather’s vivid writing and Grace’s own travels, a picture emerges of a man very unlike the one who raised her: one who watched countless friends and loved ones die horrifically in battle; one who lived a life of regret. But her grandfather wasn’t the only one harboring secrets, and the more Grace learns about her family, the less she thinks she can trust them.

MY REVIEW

After a somewhat slow start, Time and Regret quickly became intriguing. Martin’s diaries gave way to sections set during the Great War, and I was fascinated. His words weren’t the lengthy sort of diary one usually gets in books like this, but brief, blunt observations that set the stage. Then, to have Grace trying to find clues… I couldn’t stop reading. Things built, and the ending wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. In a good way.

I especially appreciated that Grace was not a 20-something year old, but a woman of an older age, with more experience, and having gone through a divorce. She was a more interesting character for it, and her friendship and relationship with Pierre felt very natural, and not overdone.

It was also refreshing to have a novel partly set in 1991. It’s two historical periods in one novel, and it took me a few minutes to reset my brain to ‘not present time’ when reading about the more modern era. I had to remind myself that 1991 was pre-cellphone, internet, etc. (I am more than old enough to remember it, but still…)

And finally, the art world connection was a real treat. Museums and (*mumble mumble spoilers*). Definitely a book to pick up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Time And Regret MK Tod

Time and Regret is M.K. Tod’s third novel.
She began writing in 2005
while living as an expat in Hong Kong.
What started as an interest in her grandparents’ lives
turned into a full-time occupation writing historical fiction.
Her novel Unravelled was awarded Indie Editor’s Choice
by the Historical Novel Society.
In addition to writing historical novels,
she blogs about reading and writing historical fiction at http://www.awriterofhistory.com,
reviews books for the Historical Novel Society
and the Washington Independent Review of Books,
and has conducted three highly respected reader surveys.
She lives in Toronto, Canada,
with her husband and is the mother of two adult children.

Please visit her website and her blog A Writer of History
Subscribe to her mailing list
or contact her at mktod [at] bell [dot] net

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter
on Goodreads and Pinterest

Buy the book (print, ebook audiobook): Amazon

***

You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below
.

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open internationally:
5 winners will receive a print copy of this book.

***

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ REVIEWS, INTERVIEW, AND EXCERPTS

Time And Regret Banner

Book Review, Giveaway, and Excerpt: Messandrierre, by Angela Wren

MessandrierreAngela Wren

on tour February 23-27 with

Messandrierre

(murder mystery/romance)
Release date: December 8, 2015
at Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd
119 pages
ISBN: 978-1910510759
Website | Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre. But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case. Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim? Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

MY REVIEW

I’ve had a bit of a thing for French  mystery novels (having indulged myself in the books put out by publisher Le French Book, for one), and this is another excellent French mystery, albeit less gory than Frederique Molay’s novels, for which I was thankful. It’s not every day that I want to read about violent, awful, vivid killings.

Forêt is an interesting fellow; he’s a former Paris cop now in a small town, and he seems to be still adjusting. He’s an occasional babysitter for a five-year-old boy who idolizes him, chasing up those who haven’t paid their car tax, and finding stolen bicycles. And then there’s the tourists that keep going missing, which no one seems to notice until a young man disappears and his friend insists that he wouldn’t have. He definitely was an engaging character, and I was intrigued by his previous history with Englishwoman Beth. I’m hoping there will be another book, so that I can find out more.

This book starts quietly, and you think that nothing bad at all could possibly happen in this small French town, where everyone seems to know everyone else. But as more and more evidence comes to light, it’s apparent that not all is what it seems, especially when it comes to the missing tourists.

I’m usually really awful at guessing who the villain(s) is(are), but this one was a little easier than most. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. :) But the book is definitely worth reading, even if it was fairly easy to figure out who (although not necessarily the why).

EXCERPT

it begins

I died beneath a clear autumn sky in September, late in September when warm cévenol afternoons drift into cooler than usual evenings before winter steals down from the summit of Mont Aigoual. My shallow grave lies in a field behind an old farmhouse. There was no ceremony to mark my death and no mourners, just a stranger in the darkness spading soil over my body. Only the midnight clouds cried for me as they carried their first sprinkling of snow to the tiny village of Messandrierre. My innocent white coverlet allowing the earth around me to shift and settle unseen and become comfortable again.

september 2007

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Messandrierre Angela Wren

Angela Wren
Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, for about 5 years. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.
I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

***

Visit her website and her blog. Follow her on Facebook, Google +

Connect with her on LinkedIn

Buy the book on Amazon or on Smashwords

***

Global giveaway open internationally:
5 participants will each win a copy of this book:
print or digital for Europe residents
digital otherwise

Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
for more chances to win

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

***

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ OTHER REVIEWS AND EXCERPT

Messandrierre Banner

It’s France Book Tours’ 1st anniversary! There are giveaways!

France Book Tours Banner 1st anniversary

France Book Tours is celebrating
its first anniversary
on April 18!

 

France Book Tours has been thrilled to present amazing books related to France for a year.
To thank the authors who submitted their books and the bloggers who read and reviewed them, France Book Tours organizes a mega giveaway from April 18-25!
Depending on the number of entries in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this page, they may give away up to 10 books, so spread the word!
The winners will be chosen on April 26.

Here are all the books available to win! Click on each cover to know more about it.

Please note what format the book is available in.
Note also that some books are only available for US/Canada residents.
If nothing is specified, it means you can receive the ebook or the print copy where ever you live.

Historical fiction

Spirit of Lost Angels Wolfsangel_CoverFinal Becoming Josephine

Spirit of Angels = print + ecopy
Wolfsangel = print + ecopy
Becoming Josephine = print for US/Canada only

Unravelled Ambitious Madame Bonap

Unravelled = print
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte = print for US/Canada only

Mystery

The Paris Lawyer The Mona Lisa Speaks

The Paris Lawyer = print for US/Canada only + ecopy
The Mona Lisa Speaks = print for US/Canada only + ecopy

Fiction

I see London cover Paris Rue des Martyrs - cover final

I See London I See France = print for US/Canada only
Paris, Rue Des Martyrs = ecopy

Romance

The Paris Game Moonlight & LoveSongs City of Jasmine

The Paris Game = ebook
Moonlight & Love Songs = ebook
City of Jasmine = signed print copy for US/Canada only

Promise of Provence

The Promise of Provence = ecopy

Nonfiction – memoir

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl - cover

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl = ecopy

AND THERE WILL BE 4 EXTRA BOOKS OFFERED
DURING OUR TWITTER PARTY!

April 23 at 5pm Central Time
#franceBT

Spread the word!

AND NOW PLEASE ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
BY CLICKING ON THE RAFFLECOPTER LINK:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Beneath the Shadows

Beneath the ShadowsBeneath the Shadows by Sara Foster

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t been to the area in which this book is set (North Yorkshire), but I have been on the moors, and the atmosphere that Sara Foster creates is perfect for what I remember of driving across the moors towards Whitby.

Part of my enjoyment of this book was its setting, the small cottage in Roseby, snug and cluttered, the sort of place where I’d like to live someday. The other was the mystery that kept me turning the pages. Why would Grace’s husband leave? and why would their baby daughter be outside the cottage in her pram when he wasn’t there? The mystery unfolds, and I was glad to be kept guessing, as often (in most books) I can figure out the puzzle before it’s revealed. However, I definitely caught some of the foreshadowing, though I won’t give away which bits, as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else.

Now that I’ve read this one, I’ll have to go pick up her other work, and I hope that she’ll be releasing more books soon.

(review copy from netgalley)

View all my reviews

Guest Post: Grit City Emotobooks Revolutionize Fictional Storytelling, by Ron Gavalik

When I heard about Grit City on Twitter, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I love noir, and I love art, and when I heard that Dillon Galway’s gun for hire was a sultry lady sharing my name, I had to take a read. Author Ron Gavalik was happy to share his thoughts here on the blog.

As a writer it’s always been a goal of mine to bridge the gap between the cerebral gratifications of well-plotted writing and the visual stimulation of illustrative art or film. Like a mad scientist with crazy hair and a battered lab coat, I experimented with various styles, structures, and word painting exercises. Nothing seemed to achieve my goal.

Then it came to me. I had a mini-epiphany. Insert abstract, emotionally representative illustrations during peak moments of tension. By delivering a visual of what the character feels and experiences, the reader becomes more intensely immersed in the story.

The term emotobook is simply a portmanteau word I conjured, as a fun and memorable label for this new medium of fiction.

Unlike comic books that use direct illustrations as the primary storytelling device, Grit City emotobooks are written mystery noirs, with an urban fantasy twist. The four or five illustrations in each thirty-page installment merely lend a visual experience to the internal emotional processes of the characters.

It’s lots of fun.

Grit City is a continuing story, published each month to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and other eBook retailers. In each installment the reader is exposed to a dark and calamitous world, where the nefarious rule.

Our main character is Dillon Galway, an idealistic freelance journalist in his mid-twenties, who barely scrapes out a living reporting on corruption for the metro newspaper and his own blog.

Dillon embodies a double meaning of the term grit. He is a gritty individual, who drinks and lives meagerly. But he also possesses grit. Courage and strength of character are his dominant personality traits.

I’ve constructed a world where Dillon shares a symbiotic relationship with the city. Its failures have lowered him, yet he remains hopeful for the restoration of peace and opportunity. Occasionally, he relies on the sexy and sultry Alyssa Stephano (gun for hire) to help when situations require her nickel-plated Colt .45 revolvers.

Grit City was an ideal place to live at one time. We all know of towns that have fallen over the years. The murder of Dillon’s father and the rise of the Syndicate started Dillon’s downward spiral. All meaningful power in business, politics, and law enforcement were funneled into the hands of this wealthy organization.

But in the shadows of the back alleys, whispers stir in the underground of an unnamed force. Something or someone that’s determined to upset the status quo. When Dillon is tipped about horrifying activities he’s propelled into a perilous investigation that may lead to dire consequences.

As the series progresses he’s faced with unfathomed challenges, but also gains abilities most consider impossible.

We’ve all dedicated our lives to the pursuit of a new fiction medium. We’re thankful such a broad audience is heralding the story. It seems our tagline on the website is true: Read one installment and you’ll be hooked until the gritty end.

Grit City is the maiden series of Grit City Publications. Our team of illustrators and editors are working with writers to launch a catalog of emotobook titles in 2012. It’s our goal to offer emotobooks in the following genres: Mystery, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Western, Romance, Erotica, and Inspirational. Cross genres are welcome and encouraged.

Maybe you have what it takes to write or illustrate for us.

Ron Gavalik has devoted his life to the written word. He’s practiced a long and successful career in fiction writing, journalism, and technical documentation. His short fiction has appeared in several magazines and online venues. His news articles have informed thousands of readers throughout the United States.

He conceived the new medium of emotobooks in 2010 while earning his M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Grit City is the maiden serialized story, and is receiving accolades among a large and diverse base of readers throughout the US, UK, and Germany.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Ron spends much of his free time in the outdoors of Southwestern Pennsylvania. He enjoys fishing, hiking, and riding his trail bike. He can be reached through his website at: RonGavalik.com.