*REVIEW* ~ Paris Ever After: A Novel, by K.S.R. Burns

#literary #romance #paris #france #adventure

Blurb

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.

My Review

Enchanting and Quirky Parisian Adventure – ***** 5 stars

I just ADORED this enchanting and quirky novel by K.S.R. Burns. As a self-confessed Francophile – I fell in love with the city, French people and culture during student exchange visits in my teenage years, I inhaled the book with gusto. Once again I was able to soak up the sights, sounds and culinary delights of this great city, which the author describes with such aplomb.  I very much enjoyed accompanying the protagonist Amy on her Parisian adventure, identifying with her quest to define and find herself.

Although I haven’t read the first book in the series, The Paris Effect, I found it fairly straightforward to  get up to speed on Amy’s backstory – how she had left her husband and her stale marriage in the US and jetted off to France, and her current dilemma (and WHAT a dilemma it is)!  Amy has found out that she is expecting her estranged husband’s baby and although her eclectic circle of new friends in Paris know of the forthcoming happy event she (wait for it) has neglected to inform her husband of the news…

When the man himself unexpectedly appears Amy has to decide exactly what she wants out of life. Can she bear to leave Paris, where she feels she has truly regained her joie de vivre? Will she do what many think is ‘the right thing’ and try and make a go of her marriage for the sake of her baby? Has her husband changed from the man he was before she left him? Is  reconciliation on the cards? Can she find romance in the city of Love?

There are some unexpected twists and turns as the very pregnant and hormonal Amy wrestles with this moral dilemma, encouraged and thwarted by events which occur in her close circle of friends. Throw in the appearance of a young woman whose actions may well lead to Amy being rendered homeless and a series of unforeseen events, deception, unexpected home truths and a combination of heartfelt and sometimes hilarious scenes, the novel is a brilliant read. I loved the author’s writing style, which pulled me in to the story and the environs of Paris. The depictions of both the city and its inhabitants are superbly done and I found the characterisations to be top notch – reflecting very real, albeit quirky, characters, all (including Amy) with very real flaws, making them more endearing to the reader.

If you are after a thought provoking, entertaining and quirky read with a real French flavour you will want to get hold of this book now.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of his book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38322706-paris-ever-after?from_search=true

Connect with the Author

http://ksrburns.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KSRBurns

Twitter

*Cover Reveal* Wake Me Up by Justin Bog

Title: Wake Me Up

Author: Justin Bog

Genre: Literary Fiction, Crime, Family Saga, LGBT

Date released: January 6th, 2016

Published by: Gravity Records

Length: 324 pages

Wake Me Up

Blurb: A FATHER IS HAUNTED BY HIS PAST — HIS WIFE LIVES HER LIFE IN A RIGID SHELL — THEIR SON, UNTETHERED, DISCOVERS THE SECRET THEY SHARE WITH DEEPIKA, A VISITOR TO THEIR TOWN. 

I see all of these people. They’re living and breathing and acting on their basest impulses. I lay in a coma. They live. I hover over all of them, all at once. I can see my body, motionless, wired up, adrift. And I can find out why this happened. This is my story and I won’t remember any of it when—if—I wake up. But I’ll try to remember—I’ll try damn hard.” 

MIDDLETON, MONTANA—OCTOBER 2004—AN ELECTION YEAR

A small college town’s populace is tied, complicitly, to the brutal attack of a teenage boy by four of his classmates. Soon, heated rumors of a possible hate crime surface. Injustice is a hungry beast.

While Chris Bullet remains unresponsive in a coma, his skull shattered, he floats above dire circumstance. In this phantom state, compelled to witness his past once more, the family’s darkest secrets, hidden over generations, will be aired.

Author Bio

A member of ITW: International Thriller Writers group, Justin Bog lives in the Pacific Northwest with his two long coat German shepherds, Zippy and Kipling. He is the author of the Suspense Magazine Award-winning collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition, and Hark: A Christmas Collection. Find Justin at http://www.justinbog.com and on Facebook at Justin Bog.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/JustinBog

On Amazon: http://amzn.to/1SwsfUv

On B&N: http://bit.ly/1PE9fkf

On Goodreads: http://bit.ly/20KuQLi

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*Book Blitz* Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story by Jonathan LaPoma

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Developing Minds -Cover with AwardTitle: Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story

Author: Jonathan LaPoma

Genre: Contemporary literary fiction

Release date: September 14th, 2015

Released by: Laughing Fire Press

Length: 343 pages

Blurb: Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions as they try to survive a year of teaching at two dysfunctional Miami public schools.

A poetic and insightful coming-of-age novel, Developing Minds is centered on 24-year-old Luke Entelechy, an aspiring writer who sees his creative output suffer when he begins teaching at one of Miami’s most challenging middle schools. As the year progresses, however, Luke begins to relate to the neglect and abuse his students suffer, and is faced with a “haunting” decision: continue to let his dark past destroy him, or rise above the struggle to realize his potential as an artist and a “real” human being.

Equal parts disturbing and humorous, Developing Minds offers a brutally honest look at the American public school system and the extreme measures many teachers take to cope with working in it.

Author bio:

Jonathan LaPomaJonathan LaPoma is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, songwriter, and poet from Buffalo, NY. In 2005, he received a BA in history and a secondary education credential from the State University of New York at Geneseo, and he traveled extensively throughout the United States and Mexico after graduating. These experiences have become the inspiration for much of his writing, which often explores themes of alienation and misery as human constructions that can be overcome through self-understanding and the acceptance of suffering. His five feature-length screenplays have won over 40 awards/honors at various international screenwriting competitions, and his novel DEVELOPING MINDS: AN AMERICAN GHOST STORY is a finalist in the 2015 Stargazer Literary Prizes for best Visionary and Metaphysical Fiction. He lives in San Diego and teaches at a public secondary school.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jonlapoma

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JonLaPoma

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1OHvo04

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Pez5bJ

B&N: http://bit.ly/1Mjz45M

Website: http://www.jonlapoma.com

To Hear the Rest More Clearly by Anne V. Pyterek **SPOTLIGHT**

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Genre: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism

To Hear the Rest More Clearly CoverSynopsis: Calliope Braintree has a lot working against her, but the forces of Nature and Love conspire to make her an instrument in the liberation of her fellow humans and the Wildness they have suppressed and perverted.

Aided by the Muse of Epic Poetry, an urban coyote, and the Chicago River, Calliope saves herself from the ravages of abuse, self-loathing and sexual humiliation. It’s not easy for her to remember the plan she and Muse had made for this life, but memories do come, in confusing fits and starts. A homeless orphan, sure of nothing but her urge to write, she ignores the mind-numbing conventions of civilized society, preferring to listen to her Muse. She follows Coyote, who leads her away from the degrading and harsh brutality of her life, into a haven of safety. Calliope goes to live in a hidden pocket of Wildness alive in the city. Still in the world, she is no longer of it, and she’s glad.

River is a powerful entity, her world a parallel reality existing in the cracks of civilization’s façade. And, polluted and tormented as she is, River is still able to transform the toxins polluting Calliope’s mind, absorbing what is hideous and making it holy. This process climaxes in a Trickster-ized version of Revelations, after which Calliope’s life will never be the same again. (ADULT CONTENT)

Author Bio

Anne Victoria Pyterek is as much the product of her protagonist, Calliope Braintree, as she is her producer. For in the ten year process of bringing Calliope into being, she ended up completely re-writing the story of her own life.

Very much a daughter of Daniel Burnham, Anne left the City of Big Shoulders—at Calliope’s request—driving off into the sunset in a big blue bus with her then 11 year old son, a managerie of animals and no income. She did this for the adventure, the learning and to find out about Calliope’s childhood. She and her son live in Colorado now, still in the bus, on 120 acres with a pack of semi-feral dogs, surrounded by coyotes.

Author Post:

Why I Write

What I Write

You know how seemingly unrelated things can come together and create something new and unexpected? Well, that’s the story of my life. There were a lot of disparate seeming (at the time) elements that came together for me in the long process of finding my voice. Luckily, I didn’t realize how much I was taking on when I started writing To Hear The Rest More Clearly. All I knew was how high my skirt was blown up over the idea of writing a book about a young woman who finds her voice. The thought never occurred that writing it would be how I found my own. I thought I already had a voice!

Ha ha! That’s pretty funny, considering how stifled I felt. Which maybe explains why it took ten whole years…? But it’s really not funny at all. Silencing women has been the status quo for some 6,000 years now. I felt strongly compelled to push through that, both for myself and for my readers. We need real heroines—super heroines who know how to save themselves. Helpless females obsessed with submitting to a man make me sick. They say we write the books we most want to read. Well, I wanted a heroine who learns how to see through all the artificial conditioning of male dominated society; a heroine who follows her own path, no matter how weird it may seem.

I’ve always preferred the company of other animals and wanted, somehow, to give them a voice, too. That’s a lot easier said than done. Ultimately, it was a combination of being an avid reader of Thoreau and my magnificent home births that got me tuned so completely in to the sense of Wildness and the Wisdom of The Body. Wildness is not a place, it is a state of mine. Another word for it might be authenticity. It’s a state of mind that does not allow for anything fake. And I experienced this authenticity more and more over the time I spent writing this book.

It was better than therapy. It brought my life into focus for me. It made me have these odd resolution experiences. Over and over I would have these realizations, “Oh! That’s why I had to do that thing back then. I needed it for this!” This happened a lot. It was pretty gratifying to realize my strange learning process actually was single-minded, after all. I had spent so many years beating myself up for being “too flighty” and having no direction. I did have a direction! It just didn’t follow any well-worn paths! So the more I applied myself to the process of becoming who I felt I was meant to be, by writing the story I most needed to read, the more I became who I already was. This is one of the things my protagonist Calliope learns as well. (She gets it from me. Obviously.)

I’ve learned a lot about myself by writing the first three books in this series. Now that I’m working on the fourth, my realizations are more along the lines of “This is who I’ve always been. Why did I allow so much to get in the way of this? I worked so hard to strip away all the lies, and I’m glad. But they were never part of me in the first place. How did they get there? And why did I have to make it so hard for myself?” I feel embarrassed for having been so easily distracted, for having wasted so much time. I struggled enormously over stuff that was never true. But it’s a Zen thing: you have to fill yourself up with information in order to be able to let it all go. Which would be great if I were a Buddhist. But I’m not. These days, I’m quite good at not beating myself up. I’m proud of un-learning that. And I know, it is because of my writing that I’ve been able to recover to this degree. It’s the most perfect therapy anybody could ever devise. I plan on writing for the rest of my life.

Author Blog: Anne of Blue Bus Books (http://blue-bus-books.com/)

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1qrqkRr

PURCHASE LINK: Smashwords

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~*Living Life Backwards*~ by Peter Wells ~ Review and Author Interview

~Temptation in Paradise~

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LIVING LIFE BACKWARDS is Peter Wells’ first novel, which focuses on the issues of temptation, hidden desire and obsession, which the hero of the tale struggles to control.

I have been reading Peter’s work on his blog, COUNTING DUCKS, on which he shares his unique take on life through his writing, for over a year now. His work is full of wisdom, witticism, wry and laugh out loud humour, and sometimes profound sadness and over riding joy. His character driven prose delves deep into the human condition, often leading me to stop and think about my own life and that of others. We featured the novel and an excerpt from it earlier this year (scroll down to click on the link to this) and today we are featuring my review and an interview with Peter. You can also check out the purchase links and find out how to connect to the author.  Tina 🙂

Book Blurb

Having spent his childhood in a barren emotional wasteland overseen by a father who valued order above feeling, Bill finally meets a woman who leads him to a place he can call home. Arriving in the small coastal town in England with his new wife, he finds that he is quickly assimilated into her community and extended family. With his somewhat murky past behind him, he forges a new life within a solid, caring community and discovers what being valued means. As it happens, his wife appears to be overly interested in “organizing” everything and everyone around her, including her young cousin who is the apple of her father’s eye.

Within the garden of Eden Bill knows he can show no interest in this apple called Misty. He knows the price of doing so, and the value of what he now enjoys. Will that be enough to protect him from desire? Luck is with him: she has no interest in him. But what if circumstances where to change and she looked at her world and him with new eyes. Would he cling to common sense?

With the hand of a surgeon, Peter Wells gently probes the thoughts of the mundane to seek those corners that still long for adventure. Those bits and pieces of each of us that gaze out on the world and find something to settle on and wonder… Tenderly touching the wounded, lonely parts of his character’s hearts, Peter gently leads them to a destiny they never could have imagined on their own. When an Obsession knocks on the doors of your Paradise, should they remain closed?

My Review

~Temptation in Paradise~

This insightful novel by Peter Wells is full of quirky, real life characters, to whom there is certainly a lot more than meets the eye! The plot is ripe with hidden desire and obsession and also deception and temptation. It is a beautifully written, engrossing and thought provoking read.

In Living Life Backwards, Bill, a long suffering married man, has an obsession with his wife’s younger cousin Misty, an obsession which he does not act on and does his utmost to conceal, for fear that it will destroy all he holds dear. Bill’s back story is one of a singularly loveless upbringing from his widowed father and he is adept at hiding his feelings. At the start of the novel he is already married to Katie, a woman who in stark contrast is gregarious and highly strung.

The couple moved to to be near to Katie’s family and there Bill becomes a pillar of the community. Passion and intimacy are lacking in their marriage and Katie views Bill as reserved and unexciting. However, Bill is mindful that he has at last found acceptance amongst his peers and the love and respect of his wife’s family, who view him as solid, dependable and honest. The following quotation, found early on in the novel, is revealing:

“I kept my dreams to myself and my actions to a minimum. I discovered having a reputation for being boring has advantages………. I used the time provided by her (referring to his wife) absences to live a life of imagination.”

The only chink in his armour is his long standing and secret obsession with Misty, Katie’s younger cousin. He has never acknowledged this attraction to anyone, other than himself, and does his utmost to conceal it and keep it in check. It is an obsession which does not go away and circumstances conspire in a way that Bill becomes tempted as never before………….

Is Misty aware of Bill’s obsession and is she as innocent as she appears? Also how will Bill react? Will he sacrifice all that he holds dear for this younger woman? Once he tastes forbidden fruit there will be no going back and he will have to face the repercussions.

For much of the novel Misty is as much an enigma to the reader as she is to Bill. Her persona is of a beautiful, innocent ice maiden, who appears to effortlessly rebuff the carnal advances of men. Her actions are explained in part by her background and we do get to find out more about her as the plot reaches its denouement – suffice to say that I was as surprised as Bill with the plot developments and her character development! There are many key supporting characters, which include Katie’s parents and also Misty’s. However, the characters of Bernard and Derek and their actions are pivotal to the plot and provide a counter plot in their own right.

The novel has so many different themes and layers. Prima facie it is a romance where the hero is tempted by a younger woman, who happens to be related to his wife, and is in a moral dilemma on how to act when circumstances conspire to bring them together. However, it is far more than this and to me illustrates how we can sometimes become trapped in a certain way of acting by circumstance or individuals and the power we allow them to hold over us. It also illustrates how reality can be manipulated by others.

The novel is narrated in the first person, from the POV of Bill. It is very readable and I felt as if I was in Bill’s head. It delves deep into the psyche of its characters and is not devoid of gentle humour, often self-depreciating and contains moments which blend sadness and hilarity. It is immensely quotable and contains many memorable one liners, an aspect that applies to all Peter’s work.

I recommend this to readers who enjoy a realistic, yet quirky, character driven contemporary romance that focuses on inner turmoil and transformation.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of the novel was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK     Amazon US

Author Interview

1470122_227390787438405_1882580175_n1. When did you start to write and what prompted you to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard?

About three years ago. I just woke up one night having one of those half asleep, half- awake sessions, and thought, “I really must get this stuff on paper or it’ll be lost.” The rest is history, or Blogging and writing history anyway.

2. Where do you find the inspiration for your writing?

I go for walks, and during them scenarios or ideas just seem to swim into my head. They pretty much all begin as Blog Posts, though a couple of them have now morphed into books

3. What category or categories do you consider your writing falls into?

I suppose you could call it either ‘general fiction’ or ‘romantic fiction’ because the stories always have some romance and examination of character in them

4. Describe your writing process in three words.

Write every day

5. What have you found is the best thing about being a writer?

Talking to myself without being told to shut up, and being able to explore ideas and scenarios at length. Creating fiction that helps me understand and encapsulate life if you follow me

6. What have you found the most challenging aspects of being a writer?

What happens next.

I really do, “ Make it up as I go along” and as any writer will tell you, the further into a novel you get, the more demanding the characters can be about how the plot should move, and that can get you into difficulties

7. I hear that you have plans for a future novel. Are you able to share anything about it with us?

I’m pleased to say I signed the contract for my next novel last Saturday, and I understand it is now cowering on the desk in the editor’s office. To be fair, she edited ‘Living Life Backwards’, and I could not think more highly of her

8. Have you any advice to anyone who is thinking about becoming an author?

Don’t give up, and write every day. Whatever your level of ability, it will always need polishing and that can only happen if you work at it regularly. You may not write a lot each day, but write something, and then you can play with it, and refine it as you go about your daily business.

Connect with the Author

http://countingducks.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Wells-At-Countingducks/211320669045417

To read our recent post focusing on Living Life Backwards, click here.

*BOOK IN FOCUS* Living Life Backwards, by Peter Wells

~Temptation in Paradise~

Today we are highlighting the novel LIVING LIFE BACKWARDS by Peter Wells. I have been reading Peter’s work on his blog, COUNTING DUCKS, on which he shares his unique take on life through his writing, for over a year now. His work is full of wisdom, witticism and wry humour, often leading me to stop and think about my own life and the human condition in general. In LIVING LIFE BACKWARDS, Peter’s first novel, he focuses on the issues of temptation, hidden desire and obsession, which the hero of the tale struggles to control.

Read on for the book blurb, an excerpt, purchase links and how to contact the author. Also look out for my review of the novel, which I  am looking forward to reading very soon. Tina 🙂

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Book Blurb

Having spent his childhood in a barren emotional wasteland overseen by a father who valued order above feeling, Bill finally meets a woman who leads him to a place he can call home. Arriving in the small coastal town in England with his new wife, he finds that he is quickly assimilated into her community and extended family. With his somewhat murky past behind him, he forges a new life within a solid, caring community and discovers what being valued means. As it happens, his wife appears to be overly interested in “organizing” everything and everyone around her, including her young cousin who is the apple of her father’s eye.

Within the garden of Eden Bill knows he can show no interest in this apple called Misty. He knows the price of doing so, and the value of what he now enjoys. Will that be enough to protect him from desire? Luck is with him: she has no interest in him. But what if circumstances where to change and she looked at her world and him with new eyes. Would he cling to common sense?

With the hand of a surgeon, Peter Wells gently probes the thoughts of the mundane to seek those corners that still long for adventure. Those bits and pieces of each of us that gaze out on the world and find something to settle on and wonder… Tenderly touching the wounded, lonely parts of his character’s hearts, Peter gently leads them to a destiny they never could have imagined on their own. When an Obsession knocks on the doors of your Paradise, should they remain closed?

Excerpt

Here Bill, now introduced to the wider family as the boyfriend and potential husband of Katie, as admired for being so, first claps eyes on Misty, and immediately senses  the danger he would be in if he let his feelings run away with him………

“As I mingled with the party making small talk, a girl walked out of the house, looked around her, and then went up to Mr Potts, as I then called him, and kissed him on the cheek. To say she was attractive does not capture the quality of intoxication I experienced on seeing her, but remember, I was being feted as the new and sober beau of her cousin, and as such, I could admit no interest. When we were finally introduced, I kept my expression as blank as possible but, even at our initial meeting, there was something knowing and even intimate about her, as if she sensed a special connection. I later learnt, from observation that she did that with most men, and how she had remained single was not easy to understand. In hindsight, I think she liked to tease but not to play. She lived at home in a small community with her parents who were over-protective, or I thought so. It was not easy to remain impassive. Clearly, I wanted to know anything I could about her but could show no interest. Riding one horse while admiring another is no easy task – I knew that already – but knowing and understanding are two different things as I learnt to my cost”.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK     Amazon US

Connect with the Author

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http://countingducks.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Wells-At-Countingducks/211320669045417