Paris is ALWAYS a good idea!

Audrey Hepburn had it right when she said “Paris is always a good idea.” The City of Light is loaded with charms and wonders you can’t find anywhere else on the planet.

Paris is always a good idea

Books about Paris are a surefire hit–from romance to mystery to intrigue, what better way to fantasize about Paris than reading a book about it, preferably over a glass of Bordeaux?

I’ve hand-picked a selection of French-themed books below and to help you decide which ones fit your style, I’ve asked each author the following questions:

1. Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris/France?
2. If your book was a drink, what would it be?
3. Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
4. Who would absolutely hate your book?

Read their responses and check out their books!

Becoming Josephine
Becoming Josephine
by Heather Webb
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
Becoming Josephine is about a famous and beloved French historical figure and much of the novel takes place in Paris.

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
One of the scenes set during the September Massacres, also, perhaps one of the hotter scenes between Napoleon and Josephine.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $15.00 | Kindle: $7.99

Connect with Heather:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Je T'Aime Me Neither
Je T’Aime, Me Neither
by April Lily Heise
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
Paris is almost a character in my book rather than the setting, perhaps a coy antagonist? I’d like to think that the passion of Paris was a root of most of my romantic misadventures, but I can’t blame it all on Paris!

Who would absolutely hate your book?
Readers looking for an idealized story of Paris. Truth is more interesting than fiction, but reality can clash with some people’s dreams of perfect Paris.

Genre: Memoir

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $13.49 | Kindle: $6.99

Connect with Lily:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Gastien: The Cost of a Dream
Gastien: The Cost of a Dream
by Caddy Rowland
If your book was a drink, what would it be?
If The Gastien Series was a drink, it would be absinthe, of course! That was the preferred drink of the bohemian artists of nineteenth century Paris. Strong, beautiful and mind-altering, the “green fairy” is a drink that forges its own path, daring to be different.

Who would absolutely hate your book?
People who don’t like dark, raw, gritty, emotional, and – at times – brutal stories would hate my book. I don’t write “pretty” stories, I write about the sublime joy and bitter tragedy of being human. That doesn’t guarantee “happy” but it does guarantee “real”.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Drama

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $14.99 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Caddy:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Paris, Rue Des Martyrs
Paris, Rue des Martyrs
by Adria J. Cimino
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
It will transport you to the Paris of Parisians… You won’t feel as if you have vacationed in Paris, but as if you have lived there.

If your book was a drink, what would it be?
CafÈ au lait: Bitter and sweet, dark and light… Opposites come together, creating unforgettable flavor!

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Kindle: $3.99

Connect with Adria:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl
Confessions of a Paris Party Girl
by Vicki Lesage
If your book was a drink, what would it be?
A glass of red wine–classy but accessible. You want to share it with friends and you have fun drinking it.

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
The airplane vomit story, for sure. Or maybe the passing-out-on-the-bathroom-floor story. If you enjoy drinking, this might make you stop. If you don’t drink, you can smugly watch me learn my lesson. I do eventually grow up, it just takes a while.

Genre: Memoir

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $14.99 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Vicki:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

I see London I see France
I see London, I see France
by Paulita Kincer
If your book was a drink, what would it be?
An Absinthe Chocolate Cocktail. Traveling with three kids while figuring out if a marriage is worth saving brings some definite worries, thus the absinthe to help forget those worries. And the chocolate, well that makes everything better, right?

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
Some of the scenes in my novel are hot, but they don’t get into graphic details of slot a fitted into slot b. What might raise some eyebrows would be Caroline, the main character’s, realization that she may have some prejudices. She rolls around the beach in Nice and is certain she is ready to break her marriage vows to have sex with a sensual gypsy man (think Johnny Depp). She leads him up to her hotel room and realizes she’s never been inside a building with the man. She only pictures him outdoors. And the prejudice of the hotel clerk plants doubt in her mind. Most middle class Americans have trouble admitting they may have prejudices.

Genres: Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $14.00 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Paulita:

Paris Was The Place
Paris Was The Place
by Susan Conley
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
At times Paris Was the Place is like a guided walking tour of Paris. You get to eat delicious crepes, hear some good jazz music, drink red wine and fall in love.

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
When narrator Willie Pears falls for a Frenchman she meets in Paris, she jumps in his truck and heads to the South of France. It’s a drive that turns out to be one long roadtrip of foreplay.

Genres: Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $26.95 | Kindle: $10.99

Connect with Susan:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Paris Game
The Paris Game
by Alyssa Linn Palmer
Why is your book a “good idea” for someone who loves Paris?
It’s an especially good idea if you’re fond of late night jazz, or wandering the streets of the Left Bank. That’s where I focused most of the story.

If your book was a drink, what would it be?
Something quite strong, whiskey on the rocks.

Which scene might raise a few eyebrows?
The entirety of chapter one.

Genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense

Buy now or read the book’s description:
Print: $15.95 | Kindle: $4.99

Connect with Alyssa:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Which books match your style? Share in the comments!

A little bit off the beaten track…

I’ve been enjoying a series of books, via their audiobook editions, in the last few months. Originally I wasn’t sure how much I’d like them, but now I feel like I’m addicted. I can’t get enough, though hearing the audiobook and having it read to me keeps me from inhaling volume after volume.

What books am I talking about? Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Series.

It begins with the Last Kingdom, when the main character, the Saxon Uhtred of Bebbanburg, is just a boy…

The blurb:
‘I had been given a perfect childhood, perfect, at least, to the ideas of a boy. I was raised among men, I was free, I ran wild, was encumbered by no laws, was troubled by no priests and was encouraged to violence.’ Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of 9th Century Northumbria, but orphaned at ten, adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred’s fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the last English kingdom when the Danes have overrun Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia.

That war, with its massacres, defeats and betrayals, is the background to Uhtred’s childhood, a childhood which leaves him uncertain of his loyalties, but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred’s kingdom. Marriage ties him further to the West Saxon cause, but when his wife and child vanish in the chaos of a Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest of the Viking chieftains in a battle beside the sea, and there, in the horror of a shield-wall, he discovers his true allegiance.

The books are fascinating, full of detail and a with a host of characters. Uhtred himself, as the books continue, is believable and three-dimensional, struggling with his loyalties between Saxon and Dane, his dislike for Alfred of Wessex and the priests, and his love of battle. I have little knowledge of how accurate (or not) the way of life depicted in the books is as compared to history, but the story draws you in and you feel like you’re there, in old Britain.

Currently I’m reading Sword Song (book 4), but my favourite book of the earlier books in the set is Lords of the North (book 3).

A new book!

I get excited over books. A new book by a favourite author? I’m dancing in the aisles of the bookstore (or tapping my fingers eagerly on the keys). So today, when the book has come in the mail (thank you Book Depository!), I can’t wait to get started.

What’s the book? Why, the latest in the Simone de Beauvoir series from the University of Illinois…

I have all the other books in this series (so far), and I can hardly wait to crack this one open!

From the U of Illinois site:

“The Useless Mouths” and Other Literary Writings brings to English-language readers literary writings–several previously unknown–by Simone de Beauvoir. Culled from sources including various American university collections, the works span decades of Beauvoir’s career. Ranging from dramatic works and literary theory to radio broadcasts, they collectively reveal fresh insights into Beauvoir’s writing process, personal life, and the honing of her philosophy.

I’m especially looking forward to reading the radio broadcasts and some of the dramatic works. If I don’t finish it by Christmas, I know exactly what I’ll be doing with my days off…

By the way, if you’re looking for a bit of an introduction to some of Simone de Beauvoir’s work, pick up one of the earlier works from the Beauvoir series, entitled ‘Philosophical Writings.’ It has quite a few of her scholarly essays. If you’re more of a memoir type, snag her ‘Wartime Diary’ or her ‘Diary of a Philosophy Student, Vol 1’. (And if fiction is your thing, ‘The Mandarins’ or ‘She Came to Stay’ are worth every penny.)

The Unabashed Francophile Post, Part 9: My Trip to Paris (1)

I went to Paris in June of 2003, as a very generous birthday gift from my parents. My father was working there for six weeks. I hadn’t been working at all, having been diagnosed with a chronic illness, and without their generosity, I would never have been able to see the city that has since figured so prominently in my life and my writing.

I didn’t always have an interest in France. As I’ve written previously, about Simone de Beauvoir and about French authors, my abiding interest was sparked by a Philosophy of Literature class. I read Sartre’s La Nausée, and Edmond Jabès’s The Book of Questions, and Andre Breton’s surrealist novel Nadja.

So, though my French language classes in elementary, junior high and high school were lamentably poor, and my grasp of the language shy and shaky, I was off to see the City of Light with my own eyes.

I arrived on the 15th of June, having flown Calgary via Montreal to Paris, landing at eight-thirty in the morning. Yes, I remember…. because I wrote it down. A friend of my mother’s bought me a journal for my trip. Exhausted, my mother and I took the Air France bus into the centre of the city, alighting at the stop nearest the Arc de Triomphe and hefting our bags for the walk to the apartment just off the Avenue de Wagram.

Later that morning, I had my first café crème. Not the most exciting of things to report, but it was a revelation. I’d had coffee before, of course, including cappuccino, espresso and the like, but the taste of this café crème was like nothing else. It came in a white porcelain cup and saucer with a paper-wrapped lump of sugar on the side and a small spoon. It was delicious.

I remember the morning being pleasant, sunny with a light breeze. The café we’d stopped at had been crowded with the Sunday brunch crowd and our table still had dishes from the previous occupants cluttering it. Compared to at home, the service was slow, but it didn’t matter. Through my tired daze, I was already fascinated with this new city, so different from home.

Quickie book recommendations #2

Today’s books are some of my more recent favourites.

The first, I snagged from Carina Press on its release day. It’s a fantastic romantic tale set in Antarctica, with an emotionally bruised heroine who is immensely relatable.

The second, I read awhile ago, but I remember hearing an interview with the author about her time in Highgate cemetery and I wished that I could do the same sort of immersion for all my stories.

The third, and unfortunately hard to find book, I received in a collection of a dozen pulp fiction (mostly crime/noir) novels. As you might guess, the mention of a torch singer caught my eye. And, as is appropriate for “Movember“, the first chapter begins with “Let me begin with the mustache. I shaved it off.”

The blurbs for the first two are taken from Carina Press and Amazon, respectively, while the third is from the cover copy of my battered pulp paperback.

Icebound, by Julie Rowe (Carina Press, 50K word novella)
Dr. Emilie Saunderson is driven to finish her late husband’s research. Her quest brings her to Antarctica, where she hopes to find a measure of peace in the isolated and icy wilderness. It’s the last place on earth she expects to be given a second chance at love.

Tom Wolinski loves his work at the bottom of the world. Damaged by his dark past, he has vowed never to get close to anyone—a promise that’s easy to keep in a place with no permanent residents. That is, until Emilie arrives, and he’s irresistibly drawn to her warmth and inner strength.

Emilie has no desire to get involved with another adventurer, and Tom has made it clear he’s not interested in putting down roots. But as they work together to survive in the harshest of climates, they turn to one another for comfort. Is the heat between them enough to melt the ice around their hearts, and bind them together forever?

Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger (Scribner, 406pgs)
Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls’ aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including—perhaps—their aunt.

Too French and Too Deadly, by Henry Kane (Avon, 1955, out of print)
A tempting torch singer with flame-red hair – and a standing invitation to murder in her eyes – meets Peter Chambers…

And when fiction’s most eye-catching, hard-boiled private eye takes on the luscious lady, all he wants with her is privacy. Instead he finds himself in a sealed room with a dead man – and a uniquely puzzling case of homicial “suicide.”

Welcome to Bandit Creek!

In the spring of 2011, a group of authors got together and created the town of Bandit Creek, Montana, nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Everything happens in Bandit Creek: we have paranormal romances, mysteries, historical, you name it. We cover all genres and the books range from 1867 to the present. You’ll meet strange residents, search out lost treasure, hang out with flappers and bootleggers, see ghosts, experience love stories, and have a frolicking good time.

The inaugural release is ‘Lost’, by Vivi Anna.

Kirsten Morgan can hear the dead. And now they are calling to her, to come home to Bandit Creek.

A girl has gone missing, and the law don’t have any leads. But the last thing Sheriff Samuel Morgan wants to see is his famous psychic daughter in his office telling him how to do his job. At odds for years, Kirsten doesn’t know how to talk to her father but she knows she has to push him to a place he doesn’t want to go. Because the dead are talking, and she has to answer, or lose her mind forever.

It’s a fantastic tale and will keep you reading right to the end. Vivi Anna is the author of more than a dozen books, including the Nina Decker books ‘Glimmer’ and ‘Dawning’, the YA novel ‘Static’ and the Valorian Chronicles from Harlequin.

New books will be released twice a month and you can find them at the Bandit Creek Books website, and for purchase on Amazon and Smashwords.

Shakespeare & Company: La Meilleure Librairie

From: (creative commons)

Oh how I love this bookshop. I sometimes wish I could own a bookshop like this, or have my apartment be filled with books so that it resembles the shop’s interior. There’s just something so cosy about the shop, with its velvet chairs nestled amongst shelves filled to bursting. It’s the kind of place I could (and did) spend hours in. My next trip to Paris (whenever that will be) will include a lot of time.

From: (creative commons)

Jeremy Mercer wrote a book called ‘Time Was Soft There’ about Shakespeare & Co. It’s a bit of a memoir, but I love the details of his time spent there in the shop, sleeping on one of the beds tucked away, the people he met there, and his time in Paris. The film ‘Before Sunset’ also begins in the shop, where Ethan Hawke’s character is autographing his book and doing a reading.

If you’re ever in Paris – you must go. Check out their website too. Curl up in that green velvet chair and flip through Jean Genet’s ‘Our Lady of the Flowers’, or poetry by Baudelaire…

Blurbs on French books.

A fascinating post, via Maitresse, on blurbs on French books… or really, the lack thereof. (Original French text here, but Maitresse summarises in English.)

…in France, authors are identified as belonging to a particular publishing house, and for a Gallimard author to blurb an Albin Michel author would be unthinkable.

I had no idea. It’s such a common thing in North America, to have authors blurbing each other’s work.

Book Review: Muffled Drum, by Erastes

Muffled Drum, by Erastes. (website)

I haven’t read much gay fiction, but what little I’ve read so far I’ve been incredibly impressed by, and I know it’ll be a new favoured genre. First, I’ll be working my way through Erastes’ backlist!

Bohemia, 1866

They met in a port-side tavern, their lust-filled moments stolen from days of marching and madness. After eighteen months, Captain Rudolph von Ratzlaff and First Lieutenant Mathias Hofmann have decided to run away from everything they hold dear. Resigning their commissions is social suicide, but there’s no other choice. Someone will eventually see Rudolph’s partiality toward Mathias.

Now their plans have gone horribly awry… When Mathias goes to Rudolph’s tent after their last battle, his lover looks at him without a hint of recognition. Mathias can hardly believe the man he knew is gone. He wants to fill in so many of Rudolph’s missing memories, but the doctor says a shock could result in permanent damage. The pain of seeing Rudolph on a daily basis, when Rudolph doesn’t remember their love, is excruciating. Now Mathias must decide whether he wants to fight for the man he loves or forget him completely…

This 43K novella was a quick read for me, but that’s not due to length. I couldn’t put it down. It’s a romance, but hardly typical. Mathias is struggling with one of the worst emotional situations I could imagine: 2 years of love with Rudolph completely wiped away, with the added difficulty of homosexuality being very hush-hush, even dangerous. To make things worse, Rudolph takes up with a former lover once he’s back in Berlin.

All throughout the novella I wondered what the final outcome would be, an incredibly good sign, since a lot of romances are fairly predictable. Would Mathias and Rudolph come to terms? Would Rudolph regain his memory? (and no, I’m not going to answer these questions for you. You’ll have to read it for yourself.)

What I really loved about this novella was the setting and the time period. It’s historical, but it’s not England, it’s not Regency, and it’s set during a war. I’m heartened to see the increasing variety in historical romance. (I was reminded of Carrie Lofty’s Portrait of Seduction, set in Salzburg.) The historical detail is sufficient to give a strong picture of Bohemia at the time, without being overly fussy and distracting from the story. It’s the perfect balance.

Muffled Drum is published by Carina Press and is available wherever ebooks are sold.

Movies: The end of an era.

When I first picked up a copy of ‘Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone’, I was 18. Certainly a little older than its targeted demographic. I’d heard about the fuss, and snagged a copy in paperback. On a trip to Norway, I bought a copy of ‘Chamber of Secrets’ in the bookshop at Heathrow airport. I read it too fast and it didn’t even last the 2.5hr flight to Oslo. I was hooked.

I can’t remember if I saw the first film in the theatre or not. I probably did. I remember seeing the second film in the theatre, probably because it featured a bewigged Jason Isaacs rather heavily. I saw that film several times before it left the theatres.

In each new book and each new film, I eagerly awaited the continuation of Harry’s tale. I didn’t do the midnight book-buying except for once (which was with Half-Blood Prince, I think), and I never did the midnight showings, but I found myself quite the fan nevertheless.

With the finale Friday night, it does feel like the end of an era. Having just turned 31, I’ve spent 13 years reading JK Rowling’s tales and seeing every film. There aren’t too many things I’ve been a fan of for that length of time. What will be next? I’m curious to see what JK’s next project is, and I’ll likely buy the ebooks when they’re officially released, but I’m really going to miss all the excitement. And Lucius. In fact, I think I’ll go put in ‘Chamber of Secrets’ right now…