Review: The Paris Secret by Lily Graham

This is my absolute favorite kind of story. Historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and a sprinkling of romance all rolled into one. Bonus points to this one for being set in a bookstore.

When Valerie returns to Paris to take on a job at a bookstore, she has one goal in mind – find out the truth about what happened to her parents. You see, her grandfather Vincent owns the bookstore. Of course he has no idea he’s hiring his granddaughter. He does, however, take an immediate liking to Valerie despite his gruff demeanor.

Slowly but surely, she begins to put together the pieces of a puzzle. This puzzle will tell the story of her childhood and why she was sent away at such a young age. But it’s a painful story to tell with more secrets than she’s expecting to learn.

Such a great, great story. I adore historical fiction set in this era. And this one has such a heartbreaking family component to it that I just couldn’t put it down. A definite winner!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Paris Secret

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Review: The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel

I love, love, love historical fiction. And I love Kristin Harmel. So what could be better than this one?

When Ruby moves to Paris with her new husband, she has no idea what’s in store for the both of them. Sure, war is knocking on the door. But things can’t get that bad, can they? After all, she’s an American so she’ll undoubtedly be safe. As she soon finds out, however, nobody is truly safe in these uncertain times.

She naturally assumes the worst when her husband begins to sneak around, to disappear for days at a time. She could never imagine, though, what he’s actually involved in. And soon she finds herself involved as well.

This was a very enjoyable story. It’s beautiful and epic and emotional and so many other things along with quite an ending!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Room on Rue Amélie

Review: On the Spectrum by Jennifer Gold

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There are a couple of signs that a book really WOWED me.  If I finish it within a couple of days, it’s a given.  But, whenever I feel compelled to immediately write a review, well then you can be sure it’s a winner.

Clara doesn’t want for much of anything, but her life is anything but easy.  Growing up as the daughter of a famous ballet dancer has put enormous pressure on her going back as far as she can remember.  She’s always felt as if she can’t measure up to her beautiful, graceful, and excessively thin mother.  So it’s no surprise that she’s developed an eating disorder.  Maybe not the binging and purging or wasting away type, but still.  Under the guise of healthy eating, she’s obsessively concerned with everything she puts into her mouth.  And who can blame her?  She’s just following her mother’s example, after all.

When things go too far, however, she finds herself sent off to visit her estranged father for the summer.  Sure, it’s in Paris.  But it also means she has to spend the summer with her stepmother and a brother she doesn’t even know.  To make matters more difficult in her mind, he’s on the autism spectrum.  Will they be able to help each other?

There are so many important things going on in this story, things that almost any young person or adult can relate to.  There’s a nontraditional, blended family as a result of divorce.  There’s a love interest, of course.  Because what young adult story wouldn’t have one?  And then there are the more serious issues, eating disorders and children with autism spectrum  disorders.

This is the rare young adult book that I actually feel safe recommending for truly young adults.  It provides a true look at real issues faced by many young people without delving into the culture of sex, drugs, and alcohol so prominent in many of today’s books marketed toward young people.  A great story!

~Thalia

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Review: Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes


This is how you know we muses (and Pegasus) post honest, unbiased reviews, folks: 

There I was reading this lovely story, not remembering the title or author, but impressed with the writing and basking in extravagant descriptions of Parisian food, shopping, and architecture. I thought, “Wow, this book reminds me of Anita Hughes’ novels. Everything is so luxurious and magical. The romance is subtle, slow, and authentic.” 

And I kept reading, enjoying the serendipitous meetings of Isabel and Alec. Balconies, cobblestones, gardens, restaurants. I loved the magic of the fortune teller and her adorable daughter. Mathieu was the PERFECT wingman, and Bettina the perfect wicked stepsister. 

I just couldn’t get enough. 

After a satisfying happily ever after I finally checked the title and author. 

Christmas in Paris. Anita Hughes. BOOM. 

Mais, oui, I should have known. 

-calliope

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Review: The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine

What a lovely story! I keep saying I don’t like flashbacks in a story but I think I do like it if done well. Laura Madeleine does it well! I adored the story of the poor country boy falling in love with pastry and Mme Clermont. Author Madeleine painted 1910 patisserie life with just the right amount of romance and beauty, and juxtaposed it perfectly with the grit of railroads, brothels, and street thugs. 

Flash forward to 1988 where phD student Petra gets sidetracked trying to clear her grandfather’s name and unravel the great Clermont mystery… I just as much enjoyed Petra’s phone calls and literal legwork trying to figure out clues about her grandfather. I was psyched for Petra’s ride on the back of Alex’s motorbike, and glad to see that the romance of 1910 carried over to modern times. 

I think I would have been able to get more lost in the story if Madeleine had stuck with the 1910 matters, but it was gratifying to see how it all played out in the end – a type of closure I wouldn’t have been able to experience unless the 1988 story existed as well. 

Brava! 

-calliope

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Review: Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell

When Claire Broussard finds mysterious letters and a plaster death mask in her Louisiana grandmother’s attic, she takes it as a sign she needs to leave her directionless life and head for Paris. 

I was fascinated by the flashbacks to historical Paris, when artists “hired” models to live with them and be their subjects. It was fun to learn this bit of history and have it come to life in a work of fiction. Since I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction, even better was reading how it intersected with Claire’s life in modern times. I liked seeing the new excitement in Claire. Blackwell developed Claire’s character well, illustrating how being ultra focused on the mystery of the death mask was part of her grieving process… and proved to be cathartic. 

I loved the ending – maybe predictable for some, but I didn’t guess it ahead of time. I was too enamored with Claire’s new Parisian life – a testament to Blackwell’s ability to draw me in to every facet of the story and keep me there until the next chapter came along. 

-calliope

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Review: Paris is Always a Good Idea by Nicolas Barreau

  

Rosalie had high hopes for her humble  wishing card shop in the middle of Paris. She had little idea a famous author would stumble in and change her world. She had absolutely no notion she’d have another gentleman stroll in … and rock her world. 

This charming book had me aahhing and mmmm’ing and sighing, as well as laughing with tears in my eyes. Barreau’s descriptions of Paris streets and pastries brought me back to my one and only trip abroad when I was in my twenties. 

The famous author’s past offered the reader a cozy mystery and provided opportunities for Barreau to flesh out Rosalie’s character. Though Rosalie was primarily an artist and shopkeeper, we got to know her better through her mystery-solving endeavors and interactions with other characters. 

My favorite part of this book was finding out about a secret love story in addition to the obvious one. Paris once, Paris twice, Paris always. 

-calliope

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