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review 2018-10-15 07:30
The Lost Carousel of Provence
The Lost Carousel of Provence - Juliet Blackwell

I've always enjoyed Juliet Blackwell's cozy mysteries, so once she started writing these stand-alone, general contemporary fiction stories, all set in France, I've made sure to pick them up.


I'm not sure this is going to be helpful to anyone but myself, but - and maybe because I don't read a lot of general fiction - I find these stories kind of weird.  Apparently, I'm a little genre-dependent because I'm never sure what the point of the story is.  I mean, I do; personal journeys, growth, blah, blah, blah, but I'm hard-wired to look for dead bodies, I guess.  Plus, the author uses multiple timelines and POVs in the France books, a device that generally drives me nuts.


That's not to say I didn't enjoy the story though; I did.  Blackwell captures France and I enjoyed the 'mystery' behind the carousel figure and the box inside.  I might have liked the secondary characters more than the main character, Cady, but chalk that up to personal tastes, as in, mine don't run towards broken characters.


As in the previous 2 stand-alones set in France, the romance is iffy, if non-existent.  This is a good thing; if Blackwell has a weakness, it's writing romance with any sexual spark (except the Witchcraft series, where the romance was very sparky).  There is a love interest here, and characters are getting lucky, but it's mostly an afterthought, with only an implied possibility of a HEA.


So, after all that rambling, I'll just say:  it's a good book.  It's a quiet, well-built, interesting story that I enjoyed escaping into for a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.


(I feel weird not assigning this to a bingo square.)

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review 2018-09-19 13:13
The Lost Carousel of Provence - Juliet Blackwell

Juliet Blackwell tells the story of Cady, present time, and the 1900’s in France using a dual timeline format.     While it can sometimes get confusing which time you are reading, Juliet does an amazing job keeping the two storylines separate while weaving them together a little bit at a time.   I liked finding out how Gus, the carousel rabbit, Cady, and the Clements would all come together.   I wasn’t surprised at how it all ended up but I did enjoy seeing how it all worked out.  


Usually, I find myself connecting to a certain character or a certain storyline but with this one  I was thrilled with the descriptions and the characters of the 1900’s.   I am also curious about wartime living and many of the characters were active in the war efforts.       The present storyline was just as amazing.   The food Cady ate, the towns she visited, the carousels she photographed, and the people she met were alive to me.   I could taste, see, and enjoy all that she did.  


I really enjoyed The Lost Carousel of Provence.  I learned about the making of carousels and all the tedious precision work that goes into their making.    There was enough fact that I felt informed but not overwhelmed with facts that I didn’t need or want to know.       Pick up your own copy and travel to Paris, visit the carousels, eat the food, and meet the wonderful characters.  

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review 2018-06-25 20:07
„Śmierć w Chateau Bremont”, bo okładka była śliczna


Niezbyt często sięgam po książki z powodu ich okładek, ale akurat abonament Legimi daje swobodę ulegania takim zachciankom. Inaczej wybieram lektury, jeśli na książkę trzeba wydać kilkadziesiąt złotych, a inaczej jeśli wystarczy dodać na półkę i pobrać na czytnik. W ten oto sposób zacząłem czytać „Śmierć w Chateau Bremont” M.L. Longworth. Nawet specjalnie się nie zastanawiałem, nie czytałem wcześniej recenzji, nie sprawdziłem kto napisał. Poprzestałem na skojarzeniu po tytule, że to zapewne francuski kryminał. Za takowymi nie przepadam, ale znowu – zdecydowała okładka. Zwyczajnie mnie urzekła zarówno w przypadku „Śmierci w Chateau Bremont” jak i drugiego tomu serii - „Morderstwa przy rue Dumas”.


Urzekająca okładka książki M.L. Longworth „Śmierć w Chateau Bremont” (źródło: smakslowa.pl)


Z samym czytaniem było jednak wyraźnie słabiej. Nie chcę nikogo zniechęcać do lektury tego tomu czy całej serii, ale ja po następne części raczej nie sięgnę. Dlaczego? Czytanie zwyczajnie mi nie szło. Taki styl pisania mi nie odpowiada. Moim zdaniem „Śmierć w Chateau Bremont” to lektura z jednej strony dla miłośników Francji, a z drugiej – kobiecego stylu pisania. Żeby nie było – Francję lubię takoż nie oceniam książek na podstawie płci autora. Ale w tym przypadku nie mogłem się przekonać ani do prowadzenia fabuły, ani do opisów. Podam przykład zdania nieźle oddającego charakter książki: „Odłożyła portfel i kluczyki do starego fajansowego naczynia z Quimper, stojącego na stoliczku z czarnego szkła, który kupiła na wyprzedaży w Habitat”. Lubię budowanie atmosfery i oddawanie charakteru miejsca akcji poprzez wplatanie detali, ale bez przesady! Jedno zdanie a ile się dowiedziałem zupełnie zbędnych rzeczy o stoliku i naczyniu na klucze.


Równie urzekająca okładka „Morderstwa przy rue Dumas” (źródło: smakslowa.pl)


Cała kryminalna historia opowiedziana jest bez specjalnych zawiłości czy budowania napięcia. Śledztwo toczy się powoli utykając raz po raz, a to w winnicy, a to w kawiarni czy restauracji. Do tego jeszcze trochę blasku francuskiej arystokracji i dużych pieniędzy. W końcu, tak trochę przy okazji, okazuje się kto zabił. Ot i cała historyja.


Urzekające Aix-en-Provence, gdzie toczy się akcja powieści (źródło: Google Street View)


Nie polecam ale też specjalnie nie zniechęcam. To nie jest zapewne zła książka. Sądzę też, że zarówno taki sposób pisania, francuskie realia, jak i powolna, sącząca się intryga bez brutalnych opisów i mrożących krew w żyłach akcji może znaleźć uznanie.


Ebooki M.L. Longworth można kupić np. w księgarni Ebookpoint:


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review 2017-10-18 20:07
Murderous Mistral: A Provence Mystery - Cay Rademacher

I enjoyed the author's new detective, Roger Blanc, for the most part and his descriptions of the region in France where Roger lives.

However, sometimes I felt the writing was overthought and overwritten. The sex scene with Roger and his superior? Why? Definitely just page filler for me and not needed at all. I don't even think it went with the character. A man who wondered if he had kissed or not kissed someone right.

A decent read albeit with a lot of unnecessary writing in which I enjoyed learning more French curse words.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2017-04-14 21:04
A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle

"A Year in Provence" won the British Book Awards' "Best Travel Book of the Year" in 1989 and without wishing to be disparaging, it is utterly charming! Month-by-month Peter Mayle describes his gradual assimilation into a new life in southern France and though not without challenges, the lifestyle retains enough of an idyllic quality as to be appealing to many a reader.


For example, the twelve months begins with a New Year's Eve six course lunch with pink champagne. Typically, Brits have been enviously familiar with the obsession with food, which looms large in French culture, from the virtues of olive oil to the daily purchase of bread - vive la difference!  More recently, of course, we are arguably catching up, but regular references to the importance of food and drink and the superior Gallic appreciation of all things gastronomical, does lend the book a sumptuous feel. Still, this is simply garnish for descriptions of the local characters and landscapes Mayle encounters, which form the main course of his book.


Just the idea of a farmhouse with six acres located between the medieval villages of Menerbes and Bonnieux seems exotic, "at the end of a dirt track through cherry trees and vines". And though the author recounts the unexpected difficulties with the climate and getting a series of tradesmen to deliver on the promised renovations, the Spring "evenings of corrugated pink skies..." seem fair compensation for the fact that the swimming pool isn't for all-year-round use!


However, for me, the highlight of the book is undoubtedly the rather genteel descriptions of a host of local people, with whom Mayle develops a seemingly genuine affinity and who in turn, appear to accept the Englishman seeking to share in their slice of the 'better life'. Indeed, the incessant visitors from home almost became intruders, inhibiting Mr & Mrs Mayle's desire to luxuriate in their new home and be seamlessly absorbed into the community.


The lasting impression is that our neighbour's  grass is inevitably greener, though it wouldn't necessarily be everyone's cup of tea. C'est la vie! 

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