• ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Black Swan of Paris: blog tour and excerpt

    THE BLACK SWAN OF PARIS

    Author: Karen Robards

    Publication Date: June 30, 2020

    Publisher: MIRA

    BOOK SUMMARY: 

    For fans of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a thrilling standalone by New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards about a celebrated singer in WWII occupied France who joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.

    In Occupied France, the Resistance trembles on the brink of destruction. Its operatives, its secrets, its plans, all will be revealed. One of its leaders, wealthy aristocrat Baron Paul de Rocheford, has been killed in a raid and the surviving members of his cell, including his wife the elegant Baronness Lillian de Rocheford, have been arrested and transported to Germany for interrogation and, inevitably, execution.

    Captain Max Ryan, British SOE, is given the job of penetrating the impregnable German prison where the Baroness and the remnants of the cell are being held and tortured. If they can’t be rescued he must kill them before they can give up their secrets.

    Max is in Paris, currently living under a cover identity as a show business impresario whose star attraction is Genevieve Dumont. Young, beautiful Genevieve is the toast of Europe, an icon of the glittering entertainment world that the Nazis celebrate so that the arts can be seen to be thriving in the occupied territories under their rule.

    What no one knows about Genevieve is that she is Lillian and Paul de Rocheford’s younger daughter. Her feelings toward her family are bitter since they were estranged twelve years ago. But when she finds out from Max just what his new assignment entails, old, long-buried feelings are rekindled and she knows that no matter what she can’t allow her mother to be killed, not by the Nazis and not by Max. She secretly establishes contact with those in the Resistance who can help her. Through them she is able to contact her sister Emmy, and the sisters put aside their estrangement to work together to rescue their mother.

    It all hinges on a command performance that Genevieve is to give for a Gestapo General in the Bavarian town where her mother and the others are imprisoned. While Genevieve sings and the show goes on, a daring rescue is underway that involves terrible danger, heartbreaking choices, and the realization that some ties, like the love between a mother and her daughters and between sisters, are forever.

    EXCERPT:

    CHAPTER ONE

    May 15, 1944

    When the worst thing that could ever happen to you had already happened, nothing that came after really mattered. The resultant state of apathy was almost pleasant, as long as she didn’t allow herself to think about it—any of it—too much.

    She was Genevieve Dumont, a singer, a star. Her latest sold-out performance at one of Paris’s great theaters had ended in a five-minute standing ovation less than an hour before. She was acclaimed, admired, celebrated wherever she went. The Nazis loved her.

    She was not quite twenty-five years old. Beautiful when, like now, she was dolled up in all her after-show finery. Not in want, not unhappy.

    In this time of fear and mass starvation, of worldwide deaths on a scale never seen before in the whole course of human history, that made her lucky. She knew it. 

    Whom she had been before, what had almost destroyed her—that life belonged to someone else. Most of the time, she didn’t even remember it herself.

    She refused to remember it.

    A siren screamed to life just meters behind the car she was traveling in. Startled, she sat upright in the back seat, heart lurching as she looked around.

    Do they know? Are they after us?

    A small knot of fans had been waiting outside the stage door as she’d left. One of them had thrust a program at her, requesting an autograph for Francoise. She’d signed—May your heart always sing, Genevieve Dumont—as previously instructed. What it meant she didn’t know. What she did know was that it meant something: it was a prearranged encounter, and the coded message she’d scribbled down was intended for the Resistance.

    And now, mere minutes later, here were the Milice, the despised French police who had long since thrown in their lot with the Nazis, on their tail.

    Even as icy jets of fear spurted through her, a pair of police cars followed by a military truck flew by. Running without lights, they appeared as no more than hulking black shapes whose passage rattled the big Citroën that up until then had been alone on the road. A split second later, her driver—his name was Otto Cordier; he worked for Max, her manager—slammed on the brakes. The car jerked to a stop.

    “Sacre bleu!” Flying forward, she barely stopped herself from smacking into the back of the front seat by throwing her arms out in front of her. “What’s happening?”

    “A raid, I think.” Peering out through the windshield, Otto clutched the steering wheel with both hands. He was an old man, short and wiry with white hair. She could read tension in every line of his body. In front of the car, washed by the pale moonlight that painted the scene in ghostly shades of gray, the cavalcade that had passed them was now blocking the road. A screech of brakes and the throwing of a shadow across the nearest building had her casting a quick look over her shoulder. Another military truck shuddered to a halt, filling the road behind them, stopping it up like a cork in a bottle. Men—German soldiers along with officers of the Milice—spilled out of the stopped vehicles. The ones behind swarmed past the Citroën, and all rushed toward what Genevieve tentatively identified as an apartment building. Six stories tall, it squatted, dark and silent, in its own walled garden.

    “Oh, no,” she said. Her fear for herself and Otto subsided, but sympathy for the targets of the raid made her chest feel tight. People who were taken away by the Nazis in the middle of the night seldom came back.

    The officers banged on the front door. “Open up! Police!”

    It was just after 10:00 p.m. Until the siren had ripped it apart, the silence blanketing the city had been close to absolute. Thanks to the strictly enforced blackout, the streets were as dark and mysterious as the nearby Seine. It had rained earlier in the day, and before the siren the big Citroën had been the noisiest thing around, splashing through puddles as they headed back to the Ritz, where she was staying for the duration of her Paris run.

    “If they keep arresting people, soon there will be no one left.” Genevieve’s gaze locked on a contingent of soldiers spreading out around the building, apparently looking for another way in—or for exits they could block. One rattled a gate of tall iron spikes that led into the brick-walled garden. It didn’t open, and he moved on, disappearing around the side of the building. She was able to follow the soldiers’ movements by the torches they carried. Fitted with slotted covers intended to direct their light downward so as to make them invisible to the Allied air-raid pilots whose increasingly frequent forays over Paris aroused both joy and dread in the city’s war-weary citizens, the torches’ bobbing looked like the erratic flitting of fireflies in the dark.

    Excerpted from The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards, Copyright © 2020 by Karen Robards. Published by MIRA Books.

    BIO: 

    Karen Robards is the New York Times, USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than fifty novels and one novella. She is the winner of six Silver Pen awards and numerous other awards.

    SOCIAL:

    Author Website: http://karenrobards.com/

    TWITTER: @TheKarenRobards

    FB: @AuthorKarenRobards

     

    BUY LINKS:

    Harlequin 

    Indiebound

    Amazon

    Barnes & Noble 

    Books-A-Million

    Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an eCopy of this book in exchange for my promotion and forthcoming review.

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    No One Saw: Review & Blog Tour

    NO ONE SAW

    Author: Beverly Long

    Publication Date: June 30, 2020

    Publisher: MIRA Books

    Book Summary:

    Detective team A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan are back on their beat after solving the brutal Baywood serial killings, but crime doesn’t rest for long in their small Wisconsin town. In book two of Beverly Long’s electrifying A.L. McKittridge series, NO ONE SAW, a child seemingly vanishes from a day care into thin air and A.L. and Rena must race to bring her home before time runs out.

    Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

    With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.

    Review:

    This might be one of my favorite police procedurals of the year. This is my second A.L. McKittridge book and I’m hooked. He and his partner, Rena, are interesting and relatable, both personally and professionally.

    This book is fast-paced and can be read in a long evening, like I did, if you can’t put it down without knowing what happened.

    I sometimes shy away from books about missing children but when told through the lens of a police procedural, the mission and tactics for finding the child dominate the plot and help me as a reader to feel like I’m reading a book with a purpose, not just a story about a child being harmed.

    The writing was paced nicely and nothing felt rushed, which is another reason good crime procedurals are some of my favorite books to read – the investigation is kept at the forefront. The characters, while some were not likable, were well developed and interesting.

    And most importantly (for me), I thought I had the crime solved but I did not. I love books that make the reader guess and without reaching, come to a plausible conclusion of who committed the crime.

    If you enjoy police procedural novels, this series is a must.

    Thanks to MIRA Books and NetGalley for the gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

    Rating: ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Buy Links: 

    Harlequin 

    Barnes & Noble

    Amazon

    Powell’s

    Books-A-Million

    Author Bio: 

    Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side.

     

    Social Links:

    Author Website

    Twitter: @BevLongBooks

    Instagram: #BeverlyLong

    Facebook: @BeverlyLongAuthor

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Prairie Fever: a review

    Title: Prairie Fever

    Author: Michael Parker

    Publisher: Algonquin Books

    Pages: 311

    Publishing Date: Paperback – June 23, 2020

    Genre: Literary fiction

    Summary

    Set in the hardscrabble landscape of early 1900s Oklahoma, but timeless in its sensibility, Prairie Fever traces the intense dynamic between the Stewart sisters: the pragmatic Lorena and the chimerical Elise. The two are bound together not only by their isolation on the prairie but also by their deep emotional reliance on each other. That connection supersedes all else until the arrival of Gus McQueen.

    When Gus arrives in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, as a first time teacher, his inexperience is challenged by the wit and ingenuity of the Stewart sisters. Then one impulsive decision and a cataclysmic blizzard trap Elise and her horse on the prairie and forever change the balance of everything between the sisters, and with Gus McQueen. With honesty and poetic intensity and the deadpan humor of Paulette Jiles and Charles Portis, Parker reminds us of the consequences of our choices. Expansive and intimate, this novel tells the story of characters tested as much by life on the prairie as they are by their own churning hearts.

    Writing Impressions

    Simply put, the writing was beautiful. The words had a lyrical way about them and set against the harshness of prairie life, the stood out unlike anything I’ve read. Some books in this wilderness setting use prose so desolate that the book becomes a burden. That is not the case here.

    Characters

    The characters were both enigmatic and easy to connect with once you learned their backstories. I love quirky characters and the emotional connection shared between the two sisters was incredibly well done. At times I felt like a third, silent sibling witnessing something incredibly unique. The other characters, also very well developed, balanced out the intensity with bits of humor and beauty.

    My thoughts

    If you enjoy intense and quirky characters, experimental fiction, and an epistolary twist then this book is for you. The writing is beautiful and sets an atmospheric stage for for a book you will not soon forget.

    Rating

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    About the author

    MICHAEL PARKER is the author of five novels – Hello Down There, Towns Without Rivers, Virginia Lovers, If You Want Me To Stay, The Watery Part of the World and two collections of stories, The Geographical Cure and Don’t Make Me Stop Now. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals including Five Points, the Georgia Review, The Idaho Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, Shenandoah, The Black Warrior Review, Trail Runner and Runner’s World. He has received fellowships in fiction from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His work has been anthologized in the Pushcart, New Stories from the South and O. Henry Prize Stories anthologies. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia, he is a Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

    Visit his website at www.michaelfparker.com

    Thank you to Algonquin Books for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

     

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Summer Darlings: Review

    𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰: 𝑺𝒖𝒎𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝑫𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝐛𝐲 𝐁𝐫𝗼𝗼𝐤𝐞 𝐋𝐞𝐚 𝐅𝗼𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫

    𝐒𝐮𝗺𝗺𝐚𝐫𝐲: Heddy, raised by a single mother in Brooklyn, was on a scholarship at Wellesley when she made a poor decision. Determined to earn some money and work her way into the inner circles of wealth in Martha’s Vineyard, she takes a summer job as a nanny for a wealthy family. She rubs elbows with the rich & famous, meets a guy or two, and sees firsthand that with wealth comes complications.

    𝐖𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝗺𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝗼𝐧𝐬: I want a lobster roll! The atmospheric writing perfectly captured 1960’s on the island. And the use of the verbiage of that time period made the book that much more realistic and enjoyable. There were a few slower parts but they did contribute nicely to the build up of something much darker going on than the glitz and glamor of the parties and summer on the beach.

    𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬: Because this book had a mysterious side, it took awhile to get to know some of the characters. But Heddy was easy to identify with from the start and her relationships with the children and Ruth, the housekeeper, were endearing and made the book for me.

    𝐌𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝗼𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: This is the perfect summer read. Combine that with the backdrop of a slow burning mystery and an air of danger and you have a page-turner. For those who enjoy time period fiction done right, you will love this book. Also, I alternated between the audiobook and the ebook. The narrator, Rebekkah Ross, was handpicked by the author after being 3 to choose from. She’s one of my new favorites narrators! And we all know how important good audiobook narration is.

    𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    𝐎𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝗼𝐫𝐤𝐬 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝗼𝐫: This is her first fiction novel. She is also an award winning journalist and has written three nonfiction books as well.

    Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for a free eCopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Tea by the Sea: blog tour & giveaway

    Author: Donna Hemans

    Publisher: Red Hen Press

    Publish date: June 9th, 2020

    Pages: 252

    Purchase Links:  Red Hen Press, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon

    Synopsis:

    A seventeen-year-old taken from her mother at birth, an Episcopal priest with a daughter
    whose face he cannot bear to see, a mother weary of searching for her lost child: Tea by the
    Sea is their story—that of a family uniting and unraveling. To find the daughter taken
    from her, Plum Valentine must find the child’s father who walked out of a hospital with
    the day-old baby girl without explanation. Seventeen years later, weary of her unfruitful
    search, Plum sees an article in a community newspaper with a photo of the man for
    whom she has spent half her life searching. He has become an Episcopal priest. Her plan:
    confront him and walk away with the daughter he took from her. From Brooklyn to the
    island of Jamaica, Tea by the Sea traces Plum’s circuitous route to finding her daughter and
    how Plum’s and the priest’s love came apart.

    ADVANCE PRAISE

    “The forbidden love story of Plum and Lenworth comes alive in this heart-rending novel,
    Tea by the Sea. Hemans has a stunning ability to give words to that elusive feeling of
    emptiness, and the longing for redemption is palpable. In Hemans’s deft hands, regrets
    are explored with precision and compassion so that the reader finds herself unable to turn
    against even characters who have committed the most wretched betrayals. Tea by the Sea is like the story told in a grandmother’s kitchen with the odors of fried dumplings and
    saltfish wafting into mouths that are set agape at the heady twists and turns delivered in an
    urgent and beautiful prose.”

    —Lauren Francis-Sharma, author of ’Til the Well Runs Dry

    Thoughts:

    This book is the perfect way to honor and celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month. Having been there myself several times, It captures the atmosphere of Jamaica perfectly. The writing is beautiful and the connection between mother and child, even when they are separated, is palpable. I will be thinking about this book for quite some time.

    About the author:

    Jamaican-born Donna Hemans is the author of the novel River Woman, winner of the
    2003-4 Towson University Prize for Literature. Tea by the Sea, for which she won the
    Lignum Vitae Una Marson Award for Adult Literature, is her second novel. Her short
    fiction has appeared in the Caribbean Writer, Crab Orchard Review, Witness, and the anthology Stories from Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad, among others. She received her undergraduate degree from Fordham University and an MFA from American University. She lives in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    The giveaway!

    Head over to my Instagram to enter. I love that part of of prize is a special tea blend created by the author just for this tour!

    Thank you to Over The River PR and Red Hen Press for the gifted copy in exchange for my promotion and honest review of this book.

     

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