reviews

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

 The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places. (publisher)

Odile’s dream comes true when she lands in her dream job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris (ALP). She has sort of an obsession with the Dewey Decimal System and likes to classify things that happen with those system numbers. Everything seems to be well: she has her dream job, new friends from her job and a boyfriend. But then WWII and Nazi occupation started and everything changes. In the 1980s Montana Lily has recently lost her mother and her father soon remarries. Missing her mother and feeling lonely, she befriends her reclusive, elderly neighbour. Fascinated by everything French, she uses her school assignment as a way to get to know her mysterious neighbour.

I don’t think I’ve read a fiction book where a library plays such a big role in the story. And it was interesting as I hadn’t heard of ALP before. We see how the library continued to deliver books to their Jewish subscribers since they could no longer use the library. The book is by no means action-packed but there were no dull moments. The book focuses heavily on the library and we don’t really see how the war affected the city under the occupation or the horrors of concentration camps or such.

I was surprised by how much I liked the 80s timeline. It gave glimpses that Lily’s stepmother might not have had an easy time as the “curator of the Brenda museum” as Lily at some point puts it. It was nice to see their relationship get better as time went on. Each library staff member were wonderful characters on their own right. I would have liked to know more about Buck and Marc as they were only mentioned a few times.

I really loved this book, and it was a bit different WWII book than usually. A book about books, libraries and the Dewey Decimal System. What’s not to like?

5/5

Published: Atria Books (February 9, 2021)
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

The Canterbury Murders by E.M. Powell

The Canterbury Murders (Stanton & Barling 3) by E.M. Powell

A fire-ravaged cathedral. An ungodly murder.

Easter, 1177. Canterbury Cathedral, home to the tomb of martyr Saint Thomas Becket, bears the wounds of a terrible fire. Benedict, prior of the great church, leads its rebuilding. But horror interrupts the work. One of the stonemasons is found viciously murdered, the dead manís face disfigured by a shocking wound.

When Kingís clerk Aelred Barling and his assistant, Hugo Stanton, arrive on pilgrimage to the tomb, the prior orders them to investigate the unholy crime.

But the killer soon claims another victimñand another. As turmoil embroils the congregation, the pair of sleuths face urgent pressure to find a connection between the killings.

With panic on the rise, can Barling and Stanton catch the culprit before evil prevails againóand stop it before it comes for them?

THE CANTERBURY MURDERS is the third book in E.M. Powellís Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. Combining intricate plots, shocking twists and a winningñif unlikelyñpair of investigators, this series is perfect for fans of Ellis Petersí Brother Cadfael or C. J. Sansomís Shardlake.

The story starts soon after the events of the last book. Barling is desperate to do a pilgrim to the tomb of Thomas Becket for past sin and hopes to get a peace of mind. But things don’t go as planned and once again they are thrown into a murder investigation, much to Barling’s dismay. There’s still a rift in Barling and Stanton’s relationship because of those events in the last book which doesn’t help their investigation.

We learn more about Stanton and Rosamund’s affair. I’ve been curious to learn more about how the relationship came to be, and just under Henry’s nose. Rosamund’s portrayal was different than I was expecting but oh well. Maybe now Stanton is ready to move on in life.

The best part of this series is the friendship between Barling and Stanton, who have very different character. Even if I sometimes wonder how they manage to solve any murders, that makes for it. Characters and the writing style make up for it.

It was a quick read and I wonder what’s up next for them.

3,5/5

Published: Crosshaven Press (November 12, 2020)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

E.M. Powellís historical thriller and medieval mystery Fifth Knight and Stanton & Barling novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers.

The third Stanton & Barling mystery, THE CANTERBURY MURDERS, will be released in November 2020.

Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she lives in northwest England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

E.M. Powell is represented by Josh Getzler at HG Literary.

Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 11
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 12
Review at Reader_ceygo

Wednesday, January 13
Feature at Words and Peace
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Thursday, January 14
Review at YA, It’s Lit

Friday, January 15
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Saturday, January 16
Review & Excerpt at Older & Smarter

Sunday, January 17
Interview at Reader_ceygo
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, January 18
Feature at I’m Into Books

Tuesday, January 19
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, January 20
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, January 21
Review at Novels Alive
Interview at Madwoman in the Attic

Friday, January 22
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, January 25
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Tuesday, January 26
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, January 27
Review at Books and Zebras

Thursday, January 28
Review at the.b00kreader

Friday, January 29
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Monday, February 1
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Wednesday, February 3
Review at Impressions In Ink
Review at Debjani’s Thoughts
Interview & Excerpt at Books & Benches

Thursday, February 4
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, February 5
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at Jessica Belmont
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

reviews

Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long

Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long

Hessa is an Eangi: a warrior priestess of the Goddess of War, with the power to turn an enemy’s bones to dust with a scream. Banished for disobeying her goddess’s command to murder a traveller, she prays for forgiveness alone on a mountainside.

While she is gone, raiders raze her village and obliterate the Eangi priesthood. Grieving and alone, Hessa – the last Eangi – must find the traveller and atone for her weakness and secure her place with her loved ones in the High Halls. As clans from the north and legionaries from the south tear through her homeland, slaughtering everyone in their path Hessa strives to win back her goddess’ favour.

Beset by zealot soldiers, deceitful gods, and newly-awakened demons at every turn, Hessa burns her path towards redemption and revenge. But her journey reveals a harrowing truth: the gods are dying and the High Halls of the afterlife are fading. Soon Hessa’s trust in her goddess weakens with every unheeded prayer.

Thrust into a battle between the gods of the Old World and the New, Hessa realizes there is far more on the line than securing a life beyond her own death. Bigger, older powers slumber beneath the surface of her world. And they’re about to wake up. (publisher)

Hessa is an Eangi warrior-priestess who gets punished for disobeying a direct order to kill a lone traveller. After her village is destroyed and believing to be the last Eangi left, she vows to kill the traveller and fulfil her task. But during her quest, she learns things about the gods that threaten her lifelong beliefs and her devotion to them. Old gods are trying to get back their power from the new gods.

The story is told from Hessa’s point of view, and she was a likeable character and a loyal to her friends. It was interesting to see how Hessa goes from being a devoted follower to question everything and doubting the gods. She hadn’t travelled far from her village before and now seeing different places and customs makes her question things more. During her journey, she meets Nisien, a Souldorni horseman, who is more cynic towards the gods and their powers. They become close friends, but it was nice that they stayed just friends through the book. I hope we learn more about Estavius in the next book.

I liked how big part the gods played in peoples lives. Like you could actually talk and interact, and occasionally fight, with them. Somehow that, and their actions, made me think Xena/Hercules world and the line from Hercules intro kept playing in my head: “… a time of myth and legend, when the ancient gods were petty and cruel…” Maybe that’s just me but yeah… Everyone keeps talking about the Viking style and all I can think is Xena…

What a great debut and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from the author!

4/5

Published: Titan Books (January 19, 2021)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

reviews

Lana’s War by Anita Abriel

Lana’s War by Anita Abriel

Paris 1943: Lana Antanova is on her way to see her husband with the thrilling news that she is pregnant. But when she arrives at the convent where he teaches music, she’s horrified to see Gestapo officers execute him for hiding a Jewish girl in the piano.

A few months later, grieving both her husband and her lost pregnancy, Lana is shocked when she’s approached to join the resistance on the French Riviera. As the daughter of a Russian countess, Lana has the perfect background to infiltrate the émigré community of Russian aristocrats who socialize with German officers, including the man who killed her husband.

Lana’s cover story makes her the mistress of Guy Pascal, a wealthy Swiss industrialist and fellow resistance member, in whose villa in Cap Ferrat she lives. Together, they gather information on upcoming raids and help members of the Jewish community escape. Consumed by her work, she doesn’t expect to become attached to a young Jewish girl or wonder about the secrets held by the man whose house she shares. And as the Nazis’ deadly efforts intensify, her intention to protect those around her may put them all at risk instead. (publisher)

After Nazis killed her husband, Lana joins the French resistance hoping to avenge her husband and is told to get to the Riviera. There she is meant to pretend to be the mistress of Guy Pascal, a wealthy businessman.

The book was fast-paced, quick read and was lighter in tone than most WWII books. It’s set in Riviera which isn’t the epicentre of the war and Nazis, which does make it less dark than most books. There were many times that I was frustrated with Lana and her actions during the book. Especially, in the first half of the book, she didn’t seem to fully understand the whole resistance thing with the need to hold secrets and not trying to involve everyone in it somehow. There was one character that I wasn’t sure if he’s good or evil, does he help the Nazis or not.

That the book was fast-paced wasn’t always a good thing. At first, Guy criticises Lana about everything and then just suddenly is in love with her. At times it feels like we jump in time missing more interesting incidents. Like when people are rescued to Switzerland. But Lana is just fretting at home and then it’s just said that the thing went well. I mean there goes a lot of interesting stuff that could have been implored. I’m in two minds about the ending. Didn’t hate it but didn’t like it either.

3/5

Published: Atria Books (January 12, 2021)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

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BEST BOOKS OF 2020

Number Of Books Read: 62
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Number of DNFs: 0

Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh
Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh
His Castilian Hawk by Anna Belfrage
Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews