THE RAVEN by Sylvain Reynard (A Review) When Nevermore becomes Once More.

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The Raven.  Synopsis.

“Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery restoring fine works of Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semi-conscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attacker’s screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her…

Cassita vulneratus.

When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. She returns to the Uffizi, but no one recognizes her, and more disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of the events leading up to her disappearance, Raven also learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history – the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the baffled police force identifies her as its prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth about her disappearance. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets.

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Review 

Once in a great while a book comes along that you can’t put down. Sylvain Reynard’s The Raven is one of those books. I fell in like with Reynard’s literary prowess with his Gabriel’s Inferno trilogy; after reading The Raven, I can say I am head over heels, crazy, twerking in the street Miley style, Tom Cruise chair-jumping, forget that bass, Meghan Trainor is sure to be all about this novel, IN LOVE with this man’s prose. He has my undying book devotion until pen doth us part. The Raven is everything you could want in a good read: intelligent, witty, thrilling, sexy and hard to let go of. It’s the type of book you’ll spend all night reading and not feel guilty about it in the morning. You’l l even want to take it home to Mom. It’s hard to express how much I love this novel, but I will try.

Let’s dish about the heroine of the book, shall we? Raven Wood is strong, feisty, determined, witty and real. She has overcome adversaries with grace and lives a life of purpose. This woman knows how to make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons. She compassionate and brave, to use the vernacular, she is a total bad ass. In a book age where the romance genre is inundated with wimpy, subservient, spineless, superficial women, Raven is a breath of fresh girl power air. I love her.

Of course you can’t have a heroine without a hero, or in The Prince’s case antihero. He is very much an alpha, Byronic male but atypical in his otherworldly abilities. At first glance he seems mercurial, but underneath beats a tender but tormented heart. Still, he is a force to be reckoned with, but Raven is up to the task. Together, they are a formidable match. The chemistry between the two leaps off the pages.

Reynard, in signature style throws in literary, cultural, historic, art and aesthetic references. There’s a strong Machiavellian theme throughout the book and a huge nod to Cupid and Psyche. He’ll also have you clamoring to catch the next flight to Florence, Italy. The Florence Tourist Board owes him a commission. You’ll feel like you are taking the Renaissance Walk and touring the Uffizi Gallery. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the rich history of Florentine art. There are even analyses of a few of the great artworks of the Renaissance, deftly explaining them in terms of the religion and politics of the time.

Reynard took some creative risks with this novel and did it in an audaciously ambitious way. The dividends pay off. His style is terse but lyrical, bold and edgy Gritty and visceral. His voice is original and commanding. The novel manages the delightful tricks of being harrowing and romantic, suspenseful and intellectual. He effortlessly weaves in themes of justice, mercy, loss, hope, love, redemption and good old-fashioned fortitude of character. The Raven is a fearless and flawless read by a remarkable author.

Excerpt from The Raven 

In the distance, the Prince could hear voices and muffled sounds.

He approached silently, almost floating across the floor.

Desperate groans and the rustling of fabric filled his ears, along with the twin sounds of rapidly beating hearts. He could smell their scents, the aromas heightened due to their sexual arousal.

He growled in reaction.

The corridor was shrouded in darkness but the Prince could see that the professor had his wife up against a window between two statues, her legs wrapped around his waist.

Her voice was breathy as she spoke, but the Prince tuned out her words, moving closer so he could catch a glimpse of her lovely face.

At the sight of it, flushed with passion, his old heart quickened and he felt the stirrings of arousal.

It was not his custom to observe rather than participate. But on this occasion, he decided to make an exception. Careful to remain in the darkness, he moved to the wall opposite the couple.

The woman squirmed in her lover’s arms, her high heels catching on his tuxedo jacket. Her fingers flew to his neck, undoing his bow tie and tossing it carelessly to the floor.

She unbuttoned his shirt, and her mouth moved to his chest, as murmurs of pleasure escaped his lips.

The Prince felt more than desire as he watched the woman’s eager movements. He caught a glimpse of her exquisite mouth and the toss of her long hair that would no doubt feel like silk between his fingers.

She lifted her head to smile at the man who held her close and he could see love in her eyes.

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​The Raven – Book One of The Florentine Series 2/3/15

BN
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-raven-sylvain-reynard/1119619658?ean=9780425266496

Amazon

Amazon Canada

iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-raven/id888019240?mt=11

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The Prince by Sylvain Reynard (a review)

The Prince is Sylvain Reynard’s novella that bridges the gap between his beloved Gabriel trilogy and his upcoming Florentine series. In the story, we are reunited with Gabriel and Julianne and introduced to a whole new set of enthralling characters. Notably, a mysterious and sinister other worldly being who wants the illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy that Gabriel acquired years ago. Unbeknownst to the professor, the illustrations were stolen. Now their rightful owner wants them back and is out for blood.

Reynard’s Prince is certainty no Prince Charming, even if he has the looks for it. No, he’s more of a Machiavelli prince, a master manipulator, ruthless with little regard for moral justification or the heads he might have to crush. The chasm between good and evil has never been so strongly felt. “It is better to be feared than loved.” Our dark antagonist embodies these words. However, I sense that there is more to The Prince than meets the eye. Perhaps, he wasn’t always so mercurial?

Reynard’s writing style is edgy and sexy. This novella oozes darkness and intrigue. I’m not normally a fan of the paranormal romance genre, but leave it to the sly fox to reel me in. Curse and bless you, Sylvain Reynard. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in The Raven.

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The Escape of Malcolm Poe by Allison Burnett (Book review)

It had been ages since a novel kept me up all night, glued to the pages, marveling at a witty turn of phrase. Reading The Escape of Malcolm Poe s akin to devouring a spicy gourmet feast of a meal, enticingly good but surprisingly acerbic Allison Burnett paints a colorful yet dark picture of what it means to turn 50. Satirical to his core, Burnett is the God of smartasses and, paradoxically, the king of tender and lyrical prose. He brandishes a sword in one hand at each introduction to a new character while carrying roses in the other. At first you find the protagonist to be an arrogant, self-absorbed little twit, but by the end you discover a tender heart beating wildly under a guise of burlesque. Malcolm Poe is as endearing as he is infuriating. This novel is a visceral lesson in the drudgery, angst and the harrowing emotional transition that often comes with mid-life, a comedy and a tragedy, a book in which Burnett crafted a portrait so real that I sometime forgot I was reading a work of fiction. The Escape of Malcolm Poe is an experiment in literary innovation, flawless prose and delicious angst.

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Andy Behrman Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

Stigma has long surrounded mental illness and is rooted in a lack of understanding and ignorance. It’s important that we as a society become informed and educated about what mental illness truly is. Here’s a clue- it’s not called an illness for nothing. It’s an ailment and a disease. Andy Behrman’s Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania is one book that helps shed light on mental illness, specifically bi-polar disorder. Andy’s book reads like a Quentin Tarantino film with a dash of Steve Martin thrown in. I defy you to read this book and not come away reeling.

Fueled by his mania, Andy was on a collision course with disaster including: drugs, illicit sex, prostitution, aimless globetrotting, and art forgery along with a stint in jail. Did I mention illicit sex? I did, well I mean some downright kinky and risky stuff. It’s amazing Andy lived to tell the tale. This, my friends is the reality of bi-polar disorder: self destructive behavior, substance abuse, promiscuity, extreme highs and crushing lows. It’s brutal.

Andy has been battling this debilitating disease for the better part of his life. Misdiagnosed for years, he was prescribed a pharmacy’s worth of prescription drugs meant to stabilize his moods and help him function, but to no avail. As a last resort his doctors had him try electroshock therapy. After many rounds, he’s now stable and thriving. But what a journey to get there. In a head spinning and roller coaster ride of prose, Andy chronicles his bouts of mania and depression. His words mirror the disease itself. You’ll get a taste of the bitter pill that is bi-polar disorder. Andy is shockingly honest and real. He holds nothing back. Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania is disturbing, poignant and eye opening read. Andy doesn’t just explain bi-polar disorder, he makes you feel it.

To learn more about Andy Behrman please visit his website at http://www.electroboy.com
And you can find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/electroboyusa

He’ll also be joining us on our podcast La Literati in March. Details, coming soon.

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