Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

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.
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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:
03_Lucille Turner

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!!
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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

03_Lucille Turner
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

 

 

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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

03_Michael Schmicker Author

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!

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Review: THE BODY IN THE PIAZZA by Katherine Hall Page

I love Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild mysteries. They are cozies that combine some of the things I love most: family, food, and New England. This installment (#21 in the series) takes place in one of my favorite places: Italy.

Faith and Tom have gone to Tuscany on an anniversary trip, but it isn’t long before Faith has a dead body on her hands (a gentleman they knew from the tour) and her friend Francesca’s cooking school is in danger. Can Faith find the murderer before it’s too late?

This book has lots of fun characters and is Faith at her finest. Talk of the sights in Florence and Rome, the food, and the weather made me want to go back to Italy!

A solid contributor to this cozy series. If you like it, you should know that the latest, #22- The Body in the Birches, is set to publish in May.

See it on Amazon where I am an Associate. I got mine there for my kindle.

The Body in the Piazza: A Faith Fairchild Mystery (Faith Fairchild series Book 21)
downloadFFPiazza

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Review: THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS by Chris Bohjalian

I had been reading about Chris Bohjalian’s THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS all over the blogosphere, so I was more than thrilled to score a copy through Net Galley. This is a touching and beautifully written novel that leaves the reader thinking about the characters long after it is over.

THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS takes place in Italy and moves between 1943 and 1955. During WWII, the Rosati family live quietly in their villa. They are a remnant of Italy’s nobleman past and are faring better than the peasants in the area. Caught in the crossfires of the war, they must support and welcome Nazi soldiers into their home; at the same time they must aid and assist partisans in their area. The war is turning and the Germans are getting desperate, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t do their utmost to destroy all they can in their path. The marchese and marchesa are a middle-aged couple. One son is away at war and his wife and two young children are living in the villa with them. Their second son is working as an archeologist. Their eighteen year old daughter Christina lives at the villa, too. Soon she finds herself falling in love for the first time – with a Nazi officer. At the same time, partisans are living in the hills and using the property, including ancient Etruscan tombs, as hideouts. The events converge into a riveting and tragic ultimatum.

Meanwhile, ten years later in 1955, a murder occurs in Rome. It soon becomes apparent that someone is stalking the surviving members of the Rosati family and killing them. Of the police detectives assigned to the case, one is the tough and intrepid Serafina – the first female police officer in her department and a surviving partisan from WWII. Serafina is horribly scarred from the war, in more ways than one. Her involvement with the Rosati case opens up old wounds and memories.

The story is written as switching between 1943/44 and 1955. As it progresses, we hear the full story of WWII for the family, and its tragic events. We follow the events of the murders and try to figure out the murderer. I could not put this book down!

I just loved this book. I found it so well-written and it evoked such strong images of the Tuscan countryside, along with such emotion. The word that comes to mind is heart-breaking. I couldn’t stop thinking about the story and its characters afterwards.

I also loved the choice of title. The “light in the ruins” can be the light in the Etruscan tombs where they hid, or the light that shined through in the aftermath of the devastation of WWII. Or it can be that small light that shined within those who were most damaged by the events of the war.

Brilliant! Buy it! Borrow it! But whatever you do – read it!

Thanks to Doubleday Books and Net Galley for my copy! You can see it on Amazon where I am an Associate:

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