Tag Archive | France

Prince Without a Kingdom, by Timothee de Fombelle (book review) – rooftops, espionage, war, love, danger

book cover of A Prince Without Kingdom by Timothee de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, published by Candlewick Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com A zeppelin, skyscrapers, a quest,
war looming, young people fleeing,
across countries, toward memories…

Through the early years of World War II, intrepid teens try to outwit ingenious villains in a game of chase through the US and Europe with deadly consequences.

Yes, it’s Book 2 of a duology. No, you don’t have to read Vango: Between Earth and Sky to get up to speed on the complex and fascinating storylines (I had only this one and easily got up to speed on who was who, etc.). But if you can get Book 1, do it, just so you can doubly glory in the wordplay, round-the-world plots, and stunning translations of the adventurous tale of Vango, Cat, the invisible monastery, Ethel, and Zefiro.

Who would you follow across oceans?

Book info: A Prince Without a Kingdom (Vango, book 2) / Timothee de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone. Candlewick Press, 2015. [author bio] [translator interview] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Chased from his childhood refuge, orphaned teen Vango uses disguise and stealth to track down the man trying to kill him, while Ethel formulates plans to assist him as World War II erupts.

Intricate webs of love, hatred, family, loss, and intrigue flow between Vango and Ethel, a nanny in Russia and a doctor in Italy, an out-of-tune piano and the Black Sea in 1913 and a prize-fighter impersonating a prince, as oceans are crossed by airships, identities are cross-wired, and missed connections can mean life, death, or dessert…

The Cat connects clues and Resistance fighters as she traverses the rooftops of Occupied Paris – too many enemies?
How can the abbot of the Invisible Monastery be aboard the Hindenburg zeppelin?
Is Edith’s brother safe as an Allied aviator?

Second in the Vango duology, A Prince Without a Kingdom can easily be read alone as a cross-continent, multi-stranded adventure of love and loyalty during wartime, stunningly translated from the French original.


F for fear in France with a Drop of Night and deadly peril, by Stefan Bachman (book review)

book cover of A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachman published by Greenwillow Books | BooksYALove.comEscape the adoptive family,
Tap into unusual skill set,
Die in an underground palace of terrors?

Anouk hates so much about her sophisticated adoptive parents, perfect little sister, and their polished life. The chance to join an exclusive teen research team in France is too good to pass up… and definitely too good to be true.

Read the first chapters of A Drop of Night here courtesy of the publisher, and get hooked on this diverse crew of teens assembled for a supposed archaeology exploration… into a death trap.

Can you ever really outrun the past?

Book info: A Drop of Night / Stefan Bachman. Greenwillow Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lured to the French countryside by the promise of a unique historical exploration, 17-year-old Anouk gladly escapes her posh New York City family and finds herself in a subterranean chateau filled with mysteries and death traps.

Maybe the five teens were picked for their various skill sets, but Anouk, Will, Jules, Hayden, and Lilly start wondering about Project Papillon’s true motives soon after they arrive at the remote French chateau with armed guards (and no cellphone service).

Why is Sapani Corporation relying on these kids to explore a historical site that’s been sealed for over 200 years?
Who is controlling the fighters they encounter underground and the hideously deadly puzzle rooms they must get past?
What if Professor Dorf isn’t the only one watching them down here?

The story alternates between the viewpoints of Anouk in the present day and Aurelie during the French Revolution as more secrets about Palais du Papillon and its frightening purpose are revealed. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

A for Along the Way, by Jacqueline Kolosov (book review) – 3 friends on a pilgrimage

book cover of Along the Way by Jacqueline Kolosov published by Luminis | BooksYALove.comShould have broken in those boots before walking 500 miles
Should have trusted her instincts about that young man…
Should have been ready for miracles on the pilgrimage…

Three far-flung friends walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from the French Pyrenees to the Spanish coast, each for her own reasons, encountering heartache, love, physical woes, and personal victories in their month together during the summer after graduation.

Ask for this travelogue in three voices at your local library or independent bookstore – they may have to invoke interlibrary loan or special order, but it’s worth the wait!

Can you ever be fully prepared for a journey that’s guaranteed to change your life?

p.s. Happy first day of the Blogging from AtoZ Challenge! I’ll recommend 26 books in 26 days of April, A to Z.

Book info: Along the Way: Three Friends, 33 Days, and One Unforgettable Journey on the Camino de Santiago / Jacqueline Kolosov. Luminis Books, 2015.  [author blog]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Walking the Camino de Santiago brings three young women closer together as the childhood friends meet other pilgrims from around the world, push their own physical and emotional limits, and find what they didn’t even know they were seeking.

Dani, Piper, and Tessa met as kids in Chicago, but live far apart now, so this 500 mile pilgrimage from France through Spain is their chance to reconnect before college and journey beyond their own comfort zones.

How can they balance family expectations with their own dreams?
Are the girls walking away from problems or toward understanding?
Cute guys in France and Spain – distractions or companions?

Three voices, three hearts, one long path taken step by step. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Meow meets wow in photos – Men & Cats, by Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud

book cover of Men & Cats by Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud published by Perigee | recommended on BooksYALove.comIf kitty pix make you go “Awwww” and photos of gorgeous guys make you go “Rawr!” then this is your book!

Add it to your favorite indie bookstore wishlist (search here for a great bookstore near you: http://indiebound.org) or just go buy it now as a gift for the person who appreciates cat cute and masculine musculature.

And, yes, the French photographers are adding more fellow and feline picture-pairs to their tumblr!


Book info: Men & Cats /Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud. Perigee Books, 2015.  [authors’ tumblr]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Photos of men and cats in matching poses prove that no words are needed to communicate the concepts of “cute plus captivating” as the creators of the wildly popular Des Hommes et des Chatons tumblr have created 50 new combos for this book.

Whether shirtlessly lounging in the sunshine or dually dapper in bowties, each pair of pix has a particular shared visual element (the one with blue eyes!).

Praying and yawning, serene and playful – enjoy men, enjoy cats, enjoy this preview of the book:

750 Years in Paris, by Vincent Mahé (book review) – 1 city block seen over 8 centuries

book cover of 750 Years in Paris by Vincent Mahe published by NoBrow | reviewed on BooksYALove.com“If these walls could only talk…”
People change (or do they?) –
The City of Light remains, a beacon!

Noted magazine illustrator Mahé has distilled centuries of French history into this wordless graphic novel, detailing the changes in a single block of buildings through good times and bad from 1270 to recent times.

Ask for this October 2015 release at your local library or independent bookstore or favorite comics shop, and enjoy his full-length publishing debut with all its verve and humorous/tense details.

What changes have you seen in your own town’s buildings over the years?

Book info: 750 Years in Paris / Vincent Mahé. Nobrow Books, 2015. [author’s Facebook page]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Buildings rise and fall, as history’s parade of changes affects a single street in Paris over the centuries, as seen by a French illustrator with an eye for fascinating details.

Vincent Mahé four-color palette ably depicts military victories and invasions, celebrates society’s modernizations, and portrays the City of Light’s evolution from dirt-street hamlet to vibrant metropolis, all from the perspective of one short city block’s buildings.

As its narrow lens helps readers focus on history’s broad sweep, 750 Years in Paris uses human-scale details to wordlessly convey the gradual or abrupt changes that this single location has seen since the 13th century.

A timeline at the end of the book notes each of the 60 time-snapshots portrayed and what memorable event merited their inclusion. Enjoyable for all readers of all ages – especially good for fans of history, graphic design, and hidden pictures! (One of 8,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Courageous teens in World War II – stories to read with your ears

For this final week of their summer program, AudioSYNC brings us two very different stories of teens coping with World War II .

Remember, these free complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday (12 Aug 2015), but you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device. Just click on the title to reach its download page with quick registration.

Thank you to @AudioSYNC and all the audiobook publishers who provide these great free downloads – looking forward to summer 2016!

CD cover of Under a War-Torn Sky  by L.M. Elliott | Read by Elizabeth Wiley Published by Tantor AudioUnder a War-Torn Sky
by L.M. Elliott
Read by Elizabeth Wiley
Published by Tantor Audio

Shot down behind enemy lines during WWII, a young American pilot tries to reach safety with the help of French Resistance members and learns first-hand of their sacrifice and bravery.


The Old Brown SuitcaseCD cover of The Old Brown Suitcase  by Lillian Boraks-Nemetz | Read by Sofia Bunting Newman Published by Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
by Lillian Boraks-Nemetz
Read by Sofia Bunting Newman
Published by Post Hypnotic Press Inc.

From the Warsaw ghetto to a new life in Canada, Slava carries a battered suitcase filled with memories and more sorrow than any 14 year old should have endured – can the young Jewish woman ever fit in?

Courage in harrowing circumstances – got it?

Harlem Hellfighters, by Max Brooks & Canaan White (book review) – WW I graphic novel of prejudice, peril & courage

book cover of Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks art by Canaan White published by Broadway booksVolunteering to fight in the Great War,
stymied at every turn by their own countrymen,
the Black Rattlers will prevail or die trying.

As the world marks the centennial of World War I’s start this month, follow the African-American 369th Infantry from routine prejudices in the US to the unpredictable violence of trench warfare in this stunning graphic novel.

Combining emotion-packed art (be very, very glad that it’s not in full color) with the era’s poems and narratives, this book unlocks a little-known episode of American history as the “Men of Bronze” inch toward the Rhine through mud, blood, lice, and poison gas.

Get it today at your local library or independent bookstore. I’ll wait here for you – I’m going to read it again myself.

p.s. Will Smith has already optioned it for a movie.
p.p.s. Yes, the author is the same Max Brooks who wrote World War Z.

Book info: Harlem Hellfighters / Max Brooks; art by Canaan White. Broadway Books, 2014. [author site]   [artist Tumblr]   [publisher site]   [NPR interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher through BloggingForBooks.org.

My book talk: Black skin, white-hot patriotism, red blood on the battlefields of France – the 369th Infantry fights prejudice from the US Army itself en route to pushing German forces back to the Rhine during the Great War.

Practicing with broomsticks instead of the new rifles issued to white troops, the black National Guardsmen nevertheless become a formidable fighting unit with the best regimental band anywhere.

When the Men of Bronze from New York complete their training in South Carolina and ship out overseas in 1914 with no parades or fanfare, they fight in the muddy, bloody trenches alongside grateful French forces, determined to reach the Rhine.

A most graphic illustrated retelling of an ignored episode of US history, Harlem Hellfighters  uses the 369th’s enemy-given nickname in this true story of bravery and sacrifice.

Q is The Wild Queen, by Carolyn Meyer (book review) – Mary Queen of Scots as a young royal

book cover of The Wild Queen by Carolyn Meyer published by Houghton Mifflin HarcourtCatholic vs. Protestant,
Cousin vs. cousin,
Room for both in the British Isles?

Step into the glittering royal court of France, the bitterly cold winter of Scotland, and the push-pull relationship between Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I in this fascinating novel filled with intrigue, plots, and danger.

Which royal person’s story most fascinates you?

Book info: The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots (Young Royals series)  / Carolyn Meyer. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012 (paperback, 2013).  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Mary’s daring gamble for the Scottish throne could be her last royal act, but the risk is worth the reward.

Sent to France as a very young girl to be raised in the royal court and become wife of Francis I, Princess Mary is merely a bargaining chip to her ambitious relatives.

When widowed at age 18, Mary vows to rule over her homeland of Scotland as is her right, no matter who stands in the way.

However, she is not the only royal woman in the British Isles to master statecraft and subterfuge; her cousin Elizabeth is prepared to keep Mary’s ambitions from affecting her own reign, at any cost.

Another compelling tale of Young Royals in the acclaimed series by Carolyn Meyer, this Wild Queen‘s days (and nights) are surely numbered.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Beautiful and the Cursed, by Page Morgan (book review) – danger and dark secrets in Paris

UK book cover of The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan published by Hot Key Books

UK cover

US book cover of The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan published by Delacorte Books

US cover

Brother missing,
Gargoyles watching,
Protectors or predators?

A different sort of paranormal creature stalks Paris as the 20th century peeks over the horizon – first novel I’ve read with gargoyles as central characters!

Read this one for

  • a new paranormal hero/villain
  • interesting family dynamics
  • a look into 1899 Paris

Book two in the series, The Lovely and the Lost,  is scheduled for May 2014 publication – more gargoyle intrigue impacting the human world, no doubt!
Hoping its cover is more like the UK cover of The Beautiful and the Cursed.


Book info: The Beautiful and the Cursed / Page Morgan.  Delacorte Press, 2013.   [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover images courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Searching for her missing brother in 1899 Paris, Gabrielle finds gargoyles come to life, mysterious alliances, and danger at every turn as time runs out for his safe return.

Grayson was overseeing repairs at the gargoyle-bedecked old abbey that Mama had bought as an art gallery, but he wasn’t there when she arrived in dead of winter with his teen sisters – how unthoughtful!

But Gabby and Ingrid soon discover that his disappearance has interested not only the police, but also the warring factions of unworldly beings – the Dispossessed in human guise and the masters of Underneath, whose hellhounds have burst into the Paris nights.

For the gargoyles are indeed the Dispossessed, forced to stay in the world after their death because of their crimes in life, forever guarding and protecting the humans residing in their building, able to assume human form as needed, yet never letting people see them so.

And as for the hellhounds… their dark masters require more human blood and have broken a long-standing treaty with the Dispossessed to acquire it more quickly.

How can the gargoyle Luc protect Gabby and Ingrid when they keep leaving the abbey grounds?
Did one of the Dispossessed turn traitor and open the way for the hellhounds?
Where does Grayson fit into all this?

First in a series featuring a new type of paranormal hero, The Beautiful and the Cursed  brings the dark corners of the City of Light into sharp focus as two sisters risk much to find their brother.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

William and the Lost Spirit, by Gwen de Bonneval and Matthieu Bonhomme (book review) – quest for father trapped in time

book cover of William and the Lost Spirit by Gwen de Bonneval, art by Matthieu Bonhomme, published by Graphic UniverseA way-finding goat,
Mythical creatures and legendary people,
Trust your spirit, not your eyes.

Hilane is sure that Father is alive when everyone else thinks he’s dead, and her quest to find him turns into brother William’s odyssey through lands of fable and myth to discover a way to release his spirit from whoever (or whatever) holds it captive.

Brigands and knights and political treachery are all part of this sweeping medieval tale in graphic novel format.

Is their father dead or alive? You’ll have to read William and the Lost Spirit for yourself to find out.

May your Father’s Day be much less-adventurous than William and Hilane’s travels!

Book info: William and the Lost Spirit / Gwen de Bonneval; art by Matthieu Bonhomme; translation and commentary by Ann and Owen Smith. Graphic Universe, 2013.   [author Facebook – in French]  [artist biography]  [publisher site]  [book trailer]

My book talk: Bandits roam the French countryside and their widowed mother prepares to wed the seneschal for safety, but William and his sister Hilane still sense their father’s life-force and undertake a treacherous journey to find him.

As the Count’s business manager, the seneschal should have ensured that the knights have the resources to clear the area of bandits, yet somehow the peasants are still being killed or run off. Now that Brifaut is marrying the widow of the Count’s son, he will receive a title and much of the abandoned land. Hilane and William think that their father’s “death” was most suspicious – how can a healer die of unknown poison?

When Hilane runs away before the wedding, William follows, turning to their other-worldly aunt Ysane for clues to her whereabouts and meeting up with a Crusades-experienced knight, a troubadour, and a friendly goat. Ysane says that William’s father is alive in “the Far-Off Lands” and that he’ll be guided on his journey as needed. So off they go, encountering turn-coat knights, fearsome creatures, Prester John of legend, and many perils along the way.

Can William find Hilane before it’s too late?
Will he survive the challenges and bring justice to his grandfather’s land?
Is his father truly alive?

This action-packed French graphic novel includes all three original volumes of William’s adventures, plus extensive commentary by the translators in the US publication.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.