The Orphan of Florence by Jeanne Kalogridis


If you read me, you know I adore historical fiction, and one of my favorite places is Florence, Italy! I’ve been there several times and last year spent a wonderful vacation with my husband there, exploring and walking around this fascinating, beautiful, and historical place. No one can visit Florence without hearing about the Medici, and their family history is the subject of many wonderful historical novels.

This  story focuses on a street urchin, Guilia, a young girl who poses as a boy to enhance her safety and the safety of the little boy she cares for. She is quick, smart, and plucky. Through a series of events, she is taken in by the “Magician of Florence”, and begins to learn his magic, especially ciphers and codes, and how it ties in to the Medici family. A series of violent and incredible events takes place, and Guilia finds herself running for her life.

I loved this story, and especially liked how it evoked vivid images of Florence/Firenze. This was a lively and intriguing read that fans of historical fiction of this period should enjoy.

Thank you for my review e-copy!


HFVBTour for PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY by Donna Russo Morin

04_Portrait of a Conspiracy_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

I am just thrilled to be part of this blog tour for HFVBTours today! Donna Russo Morin’s new novel is a beautifully written and compelling story of Renaissance Florence, encompassing so many things I love in a novel: a sense  of place and history, real life characters, mystery and intrigue, passion, strong female characters, and a well-written story line.

Even more exciting – it’s the start of a series!

And there’s a giveaway!

Here’s the overview:

02_The Portrait of Conspiracy

Portrait of Conspiracy: Da Vinci’s Disciples – Book One
by Donna Russo Morin

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Diversion Books
eBook & Paperback; 290 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery

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One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici’s Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place.

Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci’s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

“A riveting page-turner unlike any historical novel you’ve read, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition into the first of a trilogy by a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.” -C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’ Medici and The Vatican Princess

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author

03_Donna Russo Morin

Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter@DonnaRussoMorin.

Blog Tour Schedule — Follow along and find a new blog!

Tuesday, May 10
Review at Unshelfish
Review at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 11
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 12
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 13
Review at Let Them Read Books
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Monday, May 16
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, May 17
Review at Seize the Words

Wednesday, May 18
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Thursday, May 19
Review at Worth Getting in Bed For
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, May 20
Guest Post at Layered Pages
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Monday, May 23
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, May 24
Review at
Interview at Reading the Past

Wednesday, May 25
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, May 26
Review at Puddletown Reviews

Friday, May 27
Review at The True Book Addict

Monday, May 30
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, May 31
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, June 1
Review at The Book Connection

Thursday, June 2
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, June 3
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

But wait – there’s more!

Giveaway!! Last day is TODAY JUNE 3!!

To enter to win an eBook of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY by Donne Russo Morin please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. FIVE copies are up for grabs!


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 3rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link:


If you enjoy historical fiction of Florence in its heyday, then run don’t walk to get a copy of this novel! One of Ms. Morin’s gifts is to evoke a sense of place and this novel does this superbly.

Thank you SO MUCH for my review copy and for making me part of the tour!


Review: INFERNO by Dan Brown

With a gift card I received for my birthday, I bought Dan Brown’s new novel: INFERNO. I really liked DA VINCI CODE and I heard this was similar. I have to say I was disappointed with THE LOST SYMBOL, and I found ANGELS AND DEMONS too violent. I liked DIGITAL FORTRESS and DECEPTION POINT, but not as much as DA VINCI CODE.  Anyhow – I really liked this novel! It had more action and less codes than DA VINCI, so I have to say I still like DA VINCI CODE best. I can imagine this will be made into a movie very soon.

In INFERNO, Langdon awakes to find himself in a hospital in Florence, Italy with no idea how he got there or what happened to him. He barely has time to adjust to his surroundings when a killer arrives looking for him. He escapes with the help of a young, brilliant doctor and thus begins a crazy chase across Florence and on to Venice as Langdon and Sienna (the doctor) try to evade a host of people who appear to be trying to kill them. Along the way they discover that Langdon and a colleague (now dead) had apparently stolen the death mask of Dante Alighieri (author of “The Inferno”). Meanwhile a crazed scientist who is obsessed with population control, is trying to “save the world” by releasing a virus of epidemic proportions. His clues are related to “The Inferno” and Dante as well.

Whew! There is a lot going on in this book! I have to say I loved reading about Florence – which happens to be my favorite place in the world. One complaint I had (and this is a SPOILER ALERT!) is that the whole “this was a set-up, we created a fake scene for you” storyline was too far-fetched. I mean really – just be honest with the guy. It’d be a lot less work!

Anyhow, if you liked DA VINCI CODE I think you will like INFERNO. It also made me want to go back and reread the original INFERNO by Dante as it’s been about 35 years. And even more – it made me want to go back to visit Florence!

If you get a hankering to read a translation of Dante’s “Inferno” as I did, try this one: