Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Nightmare in Burgundy: Review and Giveaway

Every place has its own share of myths and mysteries associated with it. Some when investigated provide a reasonable explanation, others cannot be explained logically and will remain a mystery until an explanation reasonable or otherwise is found. Like myths and mysteries, each places has its own traditions. Some very mundane that has no appeal to us. Some so quirky that we go 'what?'. Do you know that Wines are Exorcised? No, not in some distant past but even in the present. I understand that after having a little too much to drink a person may need some exorcising of the inner demons that are let loose, but exorcising Wine, never heard of. But then, what do I know about wines!

This is the third book in the Winemaker Detective Series set in the winemaking rural regions of France. Another very short cozy mystery that can be read in a hour or two. Benjamin Cooker visits Burgundy region where he is celebrated with the Chevalier award. Cooker takes us to wine tasting session and gives us a lesson on how to go about one if we were ever inclined to do one. He tells us the difference not only between the wines of the Loire valley and those of the Burgundy region, but also of the nature and 'terroir' of both. He is as usual accompanied by his handsome and heartbreaking assistant Virgile. In all this leisurely tour of Burgundy, Cooker gets interested in a mystery, and does some Sleuthing but again the mystery gets solved on its own by coincidences.

Cooker is baffled by the mystery of the writing on the wall in various places in Burgundy. What is mysterious about the writing on the wall? Writing on the wall is just graffiti. But who goes about writing graffiti in Latin, in Verses, about vengeance all over the walls in Burgundy. Graffiti is just the beginning, there are other mysterious happening that follow. Is there a logical explanation to all the mysterious happenings, or is the devil really let loose in Burgundy? Escape into Burgundy!

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SYNOPSIS

The Winemaker Detective leaves his native Bordeaux to go to Burgundy for a dream wine-tasting trip to France’s other key wine-making region. Between Beaune, Dijon and Nuits-Saint-Georges, it turns into a troubling nightmare when he stumbles upon a mystery revolving around messages from another era. What do they mean? What dark secrets from the deep past are haunting the Clos de Vougeot? Does blood need to spill to sharpen people’s memory? [provided by the publisher]
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

©David Nakache 
Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and recently won the Antonin Carême prize for his cookbook La Truffe sur le Soufflé, which he wrote with the chef Alexis Pélissou. He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective series, which he coauthors with Noël Balen. Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.

 ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Translator Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage.  Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at Colorado University Boulder.  She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset.  She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena.  She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.
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Disclaimer: I received an ebook from the France Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own. Giveaway is sponsored by France Book Tours.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M J Rose




Jellyfish has cheated death. Man is still in constant search to live forever. We do hear news that the person to live forever is already born. Sometimes the thought that one could live forever could be frightening, and what are we going to do with these long lives.

If soul were the essence of the body, and the soul can live forever taking different lives and by capturing this essence in one's last breath, can we relive the glorious moments of our various lives? If that were possible, it would be better than immortality, right? Instead of living one long boring life, one could have various lives in various times and remember them all. It is the rich and mighty who want to live forever or enjoy the moments of various lives, the poor are content with living for the moment. It happened in the faraway past and it still happens now. In the Sixteenth century France, Queen Mother Catherine de Medici's perfumer Rene Bianco had been collecting dying breaths and researching a method to reanimate the soul in another. In the present, Melinoe Cypros has all the wealth in the world to enjoy immortality and persuades recently bereaved Jac to continue the work of her dead brother Robbie to find the essence to reanimate the soul with the help of Bianco's notes. Will she find it? Is it worth the effort?

The story moves between past and present, about why Bianco had to create the Elixir to reanimate souls and Jac's efforts to recreate the Elixir. Interesting twist in creating Elixir for Jac is how is she going to find the ingredients the Elixir calls for in its true state. Remember pollution and natural changes in things over centuries, so how will she recreate it? We get a glimpse of the political intrigue in Catherine de Medici's palace and the role of a perfumer in the Queen's Entourage. More than a mystery, this is essentially a love story, about a love and passion a man has for a woman centuries ago, and love another woman keeps running from in the present. Of love that could destroy and the obsession to live forever. A gripping story of immortal love and love for immortality!

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SYNOPSIS
From one of America’s most imaginative storytellers comes a passionate tale of love and treachery, spanning the days of Catherine de Medici’s court to the twenty-first century and starring a woman drawn back, time and again, to the past.

In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.

But it’s René’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.

Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.

Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon. [from the publisher]

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Author Bio

M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 13 novels;Lip Service, In Fidelity,Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix,The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, The Hypnotist, The Book of Lost Fragrances, and Seduction.
Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online and with Randy Susan Meyers of What to Do Before Your Book Lauch.

She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She runs the popular blog; Buzz, Balls & Hype.

Getting published has been an adventure for Rose who self-published Lip Service late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn’t know how to position it or market it since it didn’t fit into any one genre.

Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Servicebecame the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek and New York Magazine.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L’Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the ’80s in advertising. She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

She lives in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and their very spoiled dog, Winka. [from her website]

Disclaimer: I received an ebook from the France Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Grand Cru Heist: Review and Giveaway


Benjamin Cooker is a wine critic, probably a dream profession for many. Imagine spending everyday of your life tasting all those vintage wines and writing notes on them. If that sounds less appealing, he also gets to play amateur detective giving helpful pointers to the police to solve crimes.

In the second instalment of the Winemaker Detective series, Cooker gets mugged and his car is stolen. His precious notebook with notes on vintage wines is also lost with the car. A woman is murdered and a man allegedly commits suicide in the place where Cooker goes to convalesce after the mugging. Cases of Vintage wine from a small vineyard are stolen and cryptic messages left for the vintner.

Drink had often been blamed for many a crime. Given the number of crimes committed for the Grand Cru you know it is not wrongly blamed.

This is a short cozy novel. Cooker spends his time smoking Havana cigars, drinking vintage wines, entertaining people with his special collection of wines and the crimes get solved on its own, though Benjamin prides on solving them. This book has the same feel as the first one, Treachery in Bordeaux, with a leisurely pace and a small dose of wit and wisdom. I would have liked it better if there were less coincidences and Cooker really does some sleuthing. When the real world is hectic with all that running around it is nice to escape into a holiday with vintage wines.


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SYNOPSIS


After Treachery in Bordeauxhere is another Epicurean whodunit in French wine country. Immerse yourself in French countryside and gourmet attitude with our wine-loving amateur sleuths. This time they gumshoe around the Loire Valley before heading back to Bordeaux.

One winter day in Paris, renowned wine critic Benjamin Cooker’s world gets turned upside down when his car gets highjacked. He loses his treasured tasting notebook and his feeling of safety. To recover, he retreats to the region around Tours, sure that the wine and off-season calm will restore is sense of self. There a flamboyant British dandy, a spectacular blue-eyed blond, a zealous concierge and touchy local police disturb his well-deserved rest. From the Loire Valley to Bordeaux, in between a glass of Vouvray and a bottle of Saint-Émilion, the Winemaker Detective and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and very peculiar heist. Who stole those bottles of grand cru classé? Take this Epicurean journey through France to solve the whodunit. [provided by the publisher]
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E-Release date: Jan 30, 2014 by Le French Book
150 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1939474087

p-releaseJune 24, 2014
ISBN: 978-1939474049
Author’s website | Goodreads
Buying Links:
Kindle link: http://amzn.to/1ctJ8Jm

ABOUT THE AUTHORS



©David Nakache 
Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and recently won the Antonin Carême prize for his cookbook La Truffe sur le Soufflé, which he wrote with the chef Alexis Pélissou. He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective series, which he coauthors with Noël Balen. Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

The translator, Anne Trager loves France so much she has lived there for over a half a century and just can’t seem to leave. What keeps her there is a uniquely French mix of pleasure seeking and creativity. Well, that and the wine. In 2011, she woke up one morning and said, “I just can’t stand it anymore. There are way too many good books being written in France not reaching a broader audience.” That’s when she founded Le French Book to translate some of those books into English. The company’s motto is “If we love it, we translate it,” and Anne loves crime fiction, mysteries and detective novels.
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Disclaimer: I received an ebook from the France Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own. Giveaway is sponsored by France Book Tours.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Hunger and the Howling of Killian Lone by Will Storr


For long, I believed that the brave fought the war till the end, even if they knew that it was a losing one and one not really worth winning. Then I realised, it needed greater courage to realise that you are fighting a losing war or a war not worth it and walk out of it. Killian had been victim all his life, abused at home and bullied outside. When his dream of working with his idol celebrated chef Max Mann comes true, it is not long before he realises that he is working in a nightmare kitchen. Max doesn't shout, no doesn't shout at all. He just makes the lives of his kitchen staff miserable. Why didn't somebody tell Killian it is okay not to be a victim and walk out of the whole thing? Killian is the underdog, 'turnspit dog' as he calls himself, we all root for. We want him to walk out of it, we also want him to teach Max Mann a lesson. 

While reading the book I was thinking, this can't be, Max Mann is a celebrated chef why would he do such a thing. These guys are adults, this is not the way adults behave. Then this is not really that impossible, we do hear horror stories of bullying all the time especially when one has unlimited power over his/her domain. Kitchen is Max's domain, he does what he wants with his staff. Nobody can fight against it, if they do, they are finished.

The successful could be mean or bad-mannered, but we give them the respect they deserve as long as they made it through hard work. We don't really like people who take shortcuts to success, all those who make it big with no hardwork or long hours. When Killian tries a shortcut to success, we don't grudge him, we want him to prove to the Max Mann's of the world that it is not okay to torture others. They are your apprentices, not somebody you can 'feed shit', (that's exactly what Max does). But from the beginning we realise that Killian is messed up and there will be no happy ending. We are like Mr.Mayle, Killian's teacher and Mentor, who wants the talented often victimized Killian to prove to the world that he can do it. But at moments like when he insults Mr. Mayle in the Kitchen when he presents the Saucier Award to him, we realise that Killian will not turn out to be the hero we would look up to. The herbs the Killian uses are just a way to change the balance of scales to show us what Killian is capable of.

This is a horror story with magical herbs in a hidden garden, with a touch of supernatural with a fly hovering over most of the book and the kind of things we see in the climax of a horror movie. But this is also the story of horror of how ambition makes a talented and nice man into a monster, how somebody who fights for the oppressed becomes the oppressor. A gripping story of horror kitchens!

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Paris, Rue des Martyrs- Review and Giveaway


Review

We meet many people everyday. Some more often that we know enough for a nodding acquaintance. Among those there are some we have a connection even unknown to us. Suddenly you realise that somebody you see everyday at the cafe is your boyfriend's father. After all we live in a very small world. So what is the connection between these strangers whose lives intersect in Rue des Martyrs.

Young Rafael is an Emerald trader from Bagota in search of his birth mother in Paris. Mira, an artist, leaves her unfaithful fiancé in Naples and moves to Paris with her friend. Cecile is bored with her life, her children don't need her and her husband is unfaithful. Andre is an actor whose career is at an end after an accident. What are the connections between these varied people?

It is an easy and fast read. Though I haven't read many books with this premise, I have seen lot of movies with this strangers meeting situation, and so it is the connections and how it is handled that would make it novel and interesting. The connections start appearing in the beginning itself and what I like most are the surprises and everything is not as it seems.

I found Cecile's situation quite interesting. When you are young and you are caught in mischief, and you are compared to the prefect little young lady. You do get irritated. Why does she have to be so perfect? But her mother would be proud, wouldn't she to have taught her daughter to be a young lady with grace and charm? What if the perfect little young lady's mother is a plain woman with no charms? Her husband is involved with somebody else. Her perfect little daughter needs no mothering. She is lonely and bored. Has Cecile decided to embark on an affair because her husband is unfaithful or she feels that her perfect little daughter doesn't need her?

I found some of the character tracks similar in the beginning. Aren't Cecile and Mira facing the same kind of situation- unfaithful partner? Aren't Hugo and Rafael on the lookout for their biological parents with whom they shared nothing else? But as the story progresses the similarity between the situations and the reality behind it is revealed, you realise that how different they are. And I couldn't help wondering if Rue des Martyrs is actually Rue des Artists with the book brimming with artists of all kinds from portrait artists, actors, Jewellery designers, and an upcoming writer too. An interesting easy read for the weekend.

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SYNOPSIS

There are encounters that make a difference. The paths of four strangers cross amid the beauty, squalor, animation and desolation found on a Parisian street called the Rue des Martyrs.
Each one faces some sort of struggle:
A young man’s search for his birth mother leads him to love and grim family secrets.
An unsatisfied housewife finds her world turned upside down by the promise of a passionate liaison.
An aging actor, troubled by the arrival of the son he abandoned years ago, must make a choice: either lose him forever or put aside pride and seek redemption.
A young woman, betrayed by her fiancé, travels to Paris to begin a new life and forget about love… at least that is her intention.
Four stories entwine, four quests become one. [provided by the author]


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Author Bio


Adria J. Cimino worked as a journalist for more than a decade at news organizations including the Associated Press and Bloomberg News. Adria, who grew up in the sunshine, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida. She now lives in Paris and enjoys sharing her adventures in the city and thoughts about the writing life in her blog “Adria in Paris.” Her first novel, “Paris, Rue des Martyrs,” released on Feb. 10, 2014.

Website | Blog | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter @Adria_in_Paris


The Winner of the Giveaway is Judy Tretin! Congrats Judy!

Disclaimer: I received an ebook from the France Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own. Giveaway is sponsored by France Book Tours.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Book Monopoly sign-up

I saw this at Bev's My Readers Block and I am signing up for the Book Monopoly Challenge at goodreads @ Crazy ChallengeConnection

1st Move: Rolled a 3 and moved to Baltic Avenue: read a book set in or near water -Death in Zanzibar (finished 8/02/14)
2nd Move: Rolled a 6
Moved to CONNECTICUT AVENUE: Read a book whose title (no sub-titles) includes at least one set of double letters, in consecutive order book: Assignment in Andorra(4/3/14)
3rd Move: Rolled a 3
Moved to ELECTRIC COMPANY: Read a book with a daytime scene on the cover : Paris, Rue des Martyrs (8/3/14)
4th Move: Rolled a 3
Moved to PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD: Read a book with at least two generations of the same family OR a book set in a place you’d like to visit OR a book in which a character’s career is essential to the story.