The Orphan of Florence by Jeanne Kalogridis

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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!

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THE TUSCAN CHILD by Rhys Bowen

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If you read me, you know I love Rhys Bowen’s mystery series (Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness, to name two of them). Every now and then she steps out and writes a stand alone (e.g. In Farleigh Field). THE TUSCAN CHILD is just that – a stand alone novel that tells the story of a WWII lost love, a young woman looking for part of her past, and the beautiful Tuscan countryside that is the setting for it all.

Here’s the scoop:

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A Note From the Publisher

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I really enjoyed this one (no surprise), and I think readers who enjoy mystery and family relationships and WWII will connect with this novel.
I received this e-copy via Ms. Bowen’s publicist and Net Galley – thank you!!

BENEATH A SCARLET SKY by Mark Sullivan

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A Note From the Publisher

So – now I think: “this reminds me of a Mark Sullivan novel!”
I think this novel would appeal to many, and I particularly liked the afterword where Sullivan follows up on Pino and the other characters in how they lived the rest of their lives.

THE GIRL FROM VENICE by Martin Cruz Smith

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This historical mystery was an intriguing and thrilling read. Taking place during WWII in Venice, the novel focuses on a young fisherman and his attempt to aid a young Jewish girl who is in hiding.

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GIOCONDA by Lucille Turner

Back in May, I did a book blast for Lucille Turner’s GIOCONDA. ((see it here!)

I put this book on my TBR list and the author sent me a copy as a gift (thank you!).

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This is a beautifully written story of Leonardo da Vinci, starting in his boyhood. I loved reading of these days, with a young Leonardo who realizes he is different from others, but is not exactly sure how or why. Once his genius and artistic gift is realized, his career and reputation grows.

However, at heart this is a story of the man Leonardo and it presents him as very human and very real. Within this is the story of the Mona Lisa — who is she and why did Leonardo never deliver her portrait once he had painted it? (which is true!).

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

A solitary and unusual child, Leonardo’s only intimate is Lisa Gherardini, the girl who spies on him in his workshop. Spurned by his tutor, he is sent by his despairing father to Florence as an apprentice. Under the guiding hand of Verrocchio, the master sculptor, he begins to make his name. But success requires sacrifice; Florence demands a level of conformity impossible for him. Forced to leave, Leonardo places himself at the service of the charismatic, power-thirsty Duke of Milan. His journey leads him back to Lisa and the portrait he has waited so long to paint, the culmination of his life’s work.
From the glittering court of the Medici to the mortuaries of Milan and the battlefields of the Po valley, Lucille Turner’s powerful novel vividly imagines Leonardo’s lonely struggle to convince others of his vision of the world.
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I loved this story and appreciated Ms. Turner’s beautiful writing.
Here’s some info on her:
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Author of Gioconda, a novel about the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, Lucille Turner is an international prize-winning novelist who lives between England and France. She has an MA in Comparative Literature and teaches part-time at university in France.

For more information please visit Lucille Turner’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

GIOCONDA is highly recommended for those who enjoy reading Historical Fiction from this time period.
As of this writing (8-6-16), GIOCONDA is only $1.99 for kindle!!

HFVBT Book Blast for GIOCONDA by Lucille Turner

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I’m excited to tell you today about a great new historical fiction title: GIOCONDA. I love reading about Leonardo Da Vinci!

There’s a Giveaway, too!

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Gioconda: A Novel of Leonardo Da Vinci
by Lucille Turner
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
Granta Books
eBook & Paperback; 304 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

In a world where everyone wants to tell you how to think, what do you do when you know that they are wrong?

Anchiano 1452. A boy is born to a father who will never understand him. Unless he finds the power to become what he could be, he will remain what he is, the son of a notary from a hamlet in the hills, nobody. As he grows up out of step with everyone around him, Leonardo must follow his instincts if he is ever to fulfil the vow he makes: to save people from each other — to save them from themselves. But the time will come when he will have to make a choice. Does he share his knowledge and pay the price for it? Or does he do what his hands have always told him to do? Hide it.

He looks at his aching hands. Runs them over his bony face and rough beard. How long before his body gives up, and when it does, what of it? If he stops now, what will happen – will he live more? What is more, more of what?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Book Depository | IndieBound
Praise
“Gioconda proposes an elegant solution to the problem of why the portrait of the wife of a silk merchant was never delivered … Gioconda is a qualified success, scrupulous with its sources, careful with its conclusions.” –Financial Times

“An elegant, historical debut novel… cleverly constructed and imagined … full of vivid characters and well-drawn incidents. Turner’s careful research and graceful prose style make Gioconda a pleasure to read.” –Tina Jackson, Metro

“Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing genius is brought to life in this vividly atmospheric novel. From his solitary childhood to the conception of his iconic masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, this richly imagined life story will inspire you to re-examine his ideas, drawings and paintings.” –Easy Living

“Lucille offers a fresh and intimate perspective on da Vinci’s life …From the first page she draws the reader in with such a natural easy style you feel you were observing Leonardo da Vinci as he really was.” –Bournemouth Echo

About the Author

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Author of Gioconda, a novel about the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, Lucille Turner is an international prize-winning novelist who lives between England and France. She has an MA in Comparative Literature and teaches part-time at university in France.

For more information please visit Lucille Turner’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Discover a New Blog!

Book Blast Schedule:
Monday, May 2
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 3
Back Porchervations

Wednesday, May 4
Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, May 5
Book Nerd

Friday, May 6
Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Saturday, May 7
The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, May 9
The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, May 10
100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, May 11
Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 12
CelticLady’s Reviews
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Friday, May 13
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

But wait! There’s more!

Giveaway:
To enter to win a paperback copy of Gioconda by Lucille Turner please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Two copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 13th. 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: https://gleam.io/tTaxf/gioconda-book-blast

 

 

THE WITCH OF NAPOLI by Michael Schmicker — Book Blast, Mini Review, and Giveaway!

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I’m thrilled today to be part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Blast Tour for the new novel THE WITCH OF NAPOLI!

I read this book about two weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Here’s the info from HFVBT:

Join Michael Schmicker as his novel The Witch of Napoli is featured around the blogosphere, and enter to win a copy!

Publication Date: January 15, 2015
Palladino Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fantasy

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Italy 1899: Fiery-tempered, erotic medium Alessandra Poverelli levitates a table at a Spiritualist séance in Naples. A reporter photographs the miracle, and wealthy, skeptical, Jewish psychiatrist Camillo Lombardi arrives in Naples to investigate. When she materializes the ghost of his dead mother, he risks his reputation and fortune to finance a tour of the Continent, challenging the scientific and academic elite of Europe to test Alessandra’s mysterious powers. She will help him rewrite Science. His fee will help her escape her sadistic husband Pigotti and start a new life in Rome. Newspapers across Europe trumpet her Cinderella story and baffling successes, and the public demands to know – does the “Queen of Spirits” really have supernatural powers?

Nigel Huxley is convinced she’s simply another vulgar, Italian trickster. The icy, aristocratic detective for England’s Society for the Investigation of Mediums launches a plot to trap and expose her. The Vatican is quietly digging up her childhood secrets, desperate to discredit her supernatural powers; her abusive husband Pigotti is coming to kill her; and the tarot cards predict catastrophe.

Praised by Kirkus Reviews as an “enchanting and graceful narrative” that absorbs readers from the very first page, The Witch of Napoli masterfully resurrects the bitter 19th century battle between Science and religion over the possibility of an afterlife.

Praise for The Witch of Napoli

“Impressive…an enchanting, graceful narrative that absorbs readers from the first page.” -Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

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Michael Schmicker is an investigative journalist and nationally-known writer on the paranormal. He’s been a featured guest on national broadcast radio talk shows, including twice on Coast to Coast AM (560 stations in North America, with 3 million weekly listeners). He also shares his investigations through popular paranormal webcasts including Skeptiko, hosted by Alex Tsakiris; Speaking of Strange with Joshua Warren; the X-Zone, with Rob McConnell (Canada); and he even spent an hour chatting with spoon-bending celebrity Uri Geller on his program Parascience and Beyond (England). He is the co-author of The Gift, ESP: The Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People (St. Martin’s Press). The Witch of Napoli is his debut novel. Michael began his writing career as a crime reporter for a suburban Dow-Jones newspaper in Connecticut, and worked as a freelance reporter in Southeast Asia for three years. He has also worked as a stringer for Forbes magazine, and Op-Ed contributor to The Wall Street Journal Asia. His interest in investigating the paranormal began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand where he first encountered a non-Western culture which readily accepts the reality of ghosts and spirits, reincarnation, psychics, mediums, divination,and other persistently reported phenomena unexplainable by current Science. He lives and writes in Honolulu, Hawaii, on a mountaintop overlooking Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Connect with Michael Schmicker on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Witch of Napoli Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 20
Susan Heim on Writing

Tuesday, April 21
Griperang’s Bookmarks

Wednesday, April 22
Genre Queen

Thursday, April 23
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, April 24
To Read, Or Not to Read

Monday, April 27
The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, April 28
A Chick Who Reads

Friday, May 1
Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Giveaway

Two copies of The Witch of Napoli are up for grabs. To enter please complete the form below.

RULES

Giveaway starts on April 20th at 12:01am EST and ends at 11:59pm EST on May 1st.
Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, AUS/NZ only and you must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via GLEAM and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

Giveaway link below:

Link: https://gleam.io/qSBew/the-witch-of-napoli-book-blast

The Witch of Napoli Book Blast

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So much excitement here! However, I did really enjoy this book. I loved the characters and I loved how they were fiesty Italians from Naples (part of my heritage). I couldn’t stop reading! I loved the mix of spiritualism/mediums and history. I also looked up the woman that this story was inspired by — interesting life story!

Highly recommended! Thank you, Net Galley and Palladino Books, for my review copy!