14 Jan 2022

PEACHES FOR MONSIEUR LE CURE & THE STRAWBERRY THIEF {CHOCOLAT 3 & 4}

Having previously enjoyed Chocolat by Joanne Harris {unfortunately I read this pre Pen and Paper and therefore there is no review} and, the second book in the series, The Lollipop shoes {released in the US as The Girl with No Shadow}, my thoughts on which you can find here , today its my pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on books three and four in the author's Chocolat/Vianne Rocher series ... 

PEACHES FOR MONSIEUR LE CURE {released in the US As Peaches For Father  Francis}

It isn't often you receive a letter from the dead.

When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop. But Vianne is completely unprepared for what she finds there. Women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the square little tower of the church of Saint-Jerome like a piece on a chessboard - slender, bone-white and crowned with a silver crescent moon - a minaret.

Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought big changes to the community. Father Reynaud, Vianne's erstwhile adversary, is now disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him? ... BACK COVER BLURB

Someone once told me that, in France alone, a quarter of a million letters are delivered every year to the dead. ... FIRST SENTENCE {New Moon, Chapter One}

I have never belonged to a tribe. It gives me a different perspective. Perhaps if I did, I too would feel ill at ease in Les Marauds. But I have always been different. Perhaps that's why I find it easier to cross the narrow boundaries between one tribe and the next. To belong so often means to exclude; to think in terms of us and them - two little words that, juxtaposed, so often lead to conflict. ... MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 164/65}

MY THOUGHTS ... Over long, at times a bit contrived and, despite the wonderful exploration of differing communities, of prejudice and intolerance, I couldn't help but feel that the author's portrayal of Islam was in danger of seeming to be sentimentally indulgent when it came to its customs. And as for the ending ...  Hmm!  {trying desperately and yet I fear failing miserably when it comes to my not giving too much away} much as I'm for 'happy ever afters' {or at least 'happyish ever afters'} there are times when, well this just doesn't do it for me.

Don't get me wrong though, rated *** {I liked it}, by all means there are things to recommend Peaches for Monsieur le Curé.  

Cleverly written ✓ The parallels between the new arrivals arriving at Ramadan just as Vianne herself blew into Lansquenet at the beginning of Lent, that likewise we have the ways of the old Imam challenged by those of his less orthodox son just as we have the 'old fashioned' Father Reynaud challenged by a younger priest with his new fangled ideas, interesting.

Deliciously descriptive ✓ The typical French fare, the Middle eastern cuisine, the chocolate {even if it doesn't have such a major part to play in this, the third instalment, how could we forget the chocolate?}

Essentially, as always it was a pleasure to revisit Lansquenet, to meet friends old ... and new.

THE STRAWBERRY THIEF 

Faith. Secret. Magic.

What will the wind blow in today?

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her 'special' child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray.

And when a mysterious new shop with a strange appeal of its own opens, it heralds a change: a a confrontation, a turbulence - even perhaps, a murder ... ... BACK COVER BLURB

There's always a moment before a storm when the wind seems to change its mind. ... FIRST SENTENCE {Wind, Chapter One - Friday, March 10}

The woman looked at the packet, tied with a violet ribbon and a little paper flower. 'Violet creams? My favourites.'

'You're lying,' I thought. The charm, that comes from her like the scent of flowers picked at midnight, was darkly, sweetly, provocative. ... MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 132}

MY THOUGHTS ... 😊Now this is more like it.

Up there as one of my favourite reads of 2021, The Strawberry Thief is almost, not quite, but almost as good as Chocolat ... but my how things have changed in this, the fourth, and what is believed to be the last book in the series. 

Having lost Anouk, her elder daughter, her summer child, to Paris and the man that she loves, Vianne is comforted by the fact she still has/will always have Rosette, her non-verbal youngest daughter, her snow child. However, the winds are once again changing and Vianne has a terrible sense of foreboding when into Lansquenet blows Morgane who has a magic seemingly every bit as powerful as Vianne's own ... that of ink.

As with the previous books, full of a beguiling magic that I just adore; the author focusing on human frailties, wants and desires, interweaving dark fairytales.

The Strawberry Thief is a story of a mother frightened of losing everything, the man she loves, the last of her two daughters, of a woman, who having gained the acceptance of the folks of this little French village, is suspicious of the power of the newcomer who seems to have enchanted them all. More than this though - Just why did the deceased Narcisse bequeath Rosette the plot in forest where the wild strawberries grow? Just what is the secret contained in the papers he entrusted to Father Reynaud, the village priest? Just why is everyone, even the most unlikeliest of people, suddenly wanting a tattoo? - its also something of a mystery story.

A book/books that could arguably be read as standalone novels but why, just why would you want to when Vianne, Annouk, Father Reynaud and all of Lansquenet are waiting for you, their stories enfolding book by book.

I could wax lyrical about The Strawberry Thief and indeed Chocolat, the Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé for a long time yet but, likewise, why, just why would I want to when you could be reading them/buying them/borrowing them from the library?


NB Both of these books were read 2021. Having found myself way behind it is only now I am sharing my thoughts on them.

10 Jan 2022

KAYCIE DISCOVERS HER TALENT.

KAYCIE DISCOVERS HER TALENT
by TIFFANY GRANTHAM {With illustrations by Benedicta Buatsie}

Kaycie is an exciting new series about a young girl with a grand curiosity about the world and self-exploration. Kaycie will expose young readers to new cultures, languages and real-life situations.

In this first book within the series, Kaycie overcomes the need to "fit in"; she embraces her unique talents and the possibilities they create for her. A story that will remind young readers that being different is okay. ... Back Cover Blurb

"Come on, Mom!" Kacie shouted, running into the kitchen. ... First Sentence {Page not numbered}

"I enjoy science, math, and reading. My interest in these subjects has taught me a lot of cool things. I understand why water freezes when it's cold, and ice melts when its hot. I can do math problems in my head. The stories I read allow me to go to my magical places all the time. ... Memorable Moment {Page not numbered}

MY THOUGHTS ... A wonderful celebration of the fact that we are all amazing human beings with our own 'talents' that make us special and unique ... even if, like Kaycie {a character who struck a chord with me in an unexpectedly big way, just as I know she will with others too}, we sometimes have to dig deep to discover just what that talent is. That Kaycie came to be proud of that which made her special, of that which made her her, made this a delightful, truly inspirational read that I know my local primary school will be so happy to receive from me.

Credit also to Benedicta Buatsie for the striking illustrations. Thinking back to my childhood I'm hard pressed to think of many books that featured children of colour, thank goodness that this is largely in the past, that today children of all nationalities can readily open a book and see characters who resemble themselves.
            
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ... 
TIFFANY GRANTHAM has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in business administration. As a newly published children’s author, she enjoys creating stories that motivate, teach and uplift. After overcoming the many challenges of self-publishing, Tiffany aspired to create Brain Publishing to remove the obstacles that keep so many from getting their stories out into the world.

ABOUT BRAIN PUBLISHING ... MISSION: To increase minority representation in literature. We take the stress and uncertainty out of the publishing process ensuring more unique and diverse stories are shared with the world. Please review our website for a list of services offered

ORDERING INFO ... 

ISBN for print: 978-1736253816 

Style: Paperback, perfect-bound 

Size: 8x10 

Page Length: 24 

Genre: Children’s Fiction 

Price: $14.99 

Available to Order: 7/3/2021 

Source: Amazon.com

22 Dec 2021

{SHADOW JUMPER 2}: TWILIGHT ROBBERY.

 Having shared my thoughts on two of the author's previous books, Shadow Jumper {Part 1 in the Shadow Jumper series} and Bad Hair Days {I can't tell you what an honour it was for a quote from my review of this to appear in, this, the  author's latest book} it was such a pleasure to be asked to share my thoughts on the second in the Shadow Jumper books ...

TWILIGHT ROBBERY by J.M. FORSTER.

Will Jack solve the crime or die trying?

The rooftops are Jack's safe place - perfect for shadow jumping. Or so he thought.

When Jack and Beth find a packet hidden between the chimney pots, Jack becomes the prime suspect for theft.

Then his friend Fabien falls from the roof. Was it an accident? Or something more sinister? 

Thrust into a shady world of robbery and mayhem, Jack must find the real thieves to save himself and his friends. ... BACK COVER BLURB

"I've had an amazing week," Beth said to Jack, before taking a swig from her water bottle. ... FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter One}

They returned to the hallway, ready to go upstairs. A thud came from somewhere above them, followed by the unmistakable tread of footsteps crossing the landing. Beth took a pace back, bumping Jack's hand. His phone clattered to the floor and the torch went out, plunging them into darkness. ... MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 108}

MY THOUGHTS ... Not only a great mystery but one that introduced the characters and their world beautifully, I loved the first book in this series, Shadow Jumper. 

The question being would Twilight  Robbery, the much hoped for, second book, be as good?

Well, let's see! ...

wonderful plot which sees Jack and Beth once again take to the roof tops in an action packed adventure with a tense, breath taking climax in which our young investigators find themselves amidst the chimney pots, shadow jumping through the twilight skies, alongside the most unlikely character. 

A engaging mix of memorable characters of all ages, from Jack and Beth {I loved how their friendship is developing, that like most friendships it has its ups and downs} through to care home resident, Mr Garibaldi, who proved to be, well, something of a revelation.

A great the sense of fun, the laugh out loud moments, that amongst the action there were some truly beautiful poignant moments as a more mature Jack battled self doubts.

... I'd say it was every bit as good and even better than its predecessor. I only hope we don't have to wait too long for a third instalment. There is going to a third instalment, please tell me there will be a third instalment.