Sunday, August 9, 2015

Mailbox Monday for August 10

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

I can't believe it's August already. Here in Montreal we are having a bi-polar summer. Weird weather, too hot or too cold. We spent a week in Wildwood NJ and the sun, sand and sea were like therapy. Too short of a vacation though.

I got some awesome books that will be on tour with Italy Book Tours! This one is on tour from Sept 7 to 25:

A Song for Bellafortuna by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco

A Song for Bellafortuna is an inspirational Italian Historical Fiction novel concerning a young man's desire to free his Sicilian village from the domination of one family's long reign.

For years, the beautiful, yet secluded, hilltop village of Bellafortuna, Sicily, was a great producer of wine and olive oil. The entire village prospered. However, after the arrival of the Vasaio family, production dwindles and the villagers soon find themselves in crushing debt to the Vasaios. Only one family in the village remains outside the control of the Vasaios, but the reason haunts Antonio Sanguinetti every day of his life. Antonio is determined to erase this legacy by offering financial and emotional support to his fellow villagers. He introduces them to the choral song from Verdi's opera, Nabucco, which becomes the rallying cry for the villagers and offers them hope for a better life.

When Antonio's only son, Giuseppe, discovers his family's past, he becomes determined to take on the Vasaios and remove them from power. Led by the young Giuseppe, a plan is hatched that could result in either complete freedom for the villagers, or if it fails, forever solidifying the Vasaios' control. Find out what happens in A Song for Bellafortuna, a sweeping epic historical fiction tale of love, drama, sacrifice, and redemption, set among the beautiful landscape of Sicily.

I also got all 4 books in the Roma series. You know how much I love Rome, my mother's city, so I can't wait to dig into these books. They are on tour from Sept 21 to Oct 23:

Roma Underground (Book #1) by Gabriel Valjan

Savvy forensic accountant Alabaster Black is hiding in Rome from her former employer, covert U.S. organization “Rendition.” While there under an assumed name she meets Dante, an investigator, erstwhile explorer and member of the Roma Underground, a band of amateur archaeologists who map the city beneath Rome. With Italian artifacts disappearing at an alarming rate, Alabaster and Dante search for answers and create a trap for the thieves. Through a mysterious online contact Alabaster learns she is being followed, and with her safety at risk she is forced to rethink her chosen alliances and discover hidden truths about herself.

Wasps's Nest (Book #2) by Gabriel Valjan

In the highly anticipated sequel to Roma, Underground, Bianca returns to the U.S. for her former employer, the covert organization Rendition, to investigate Cyril Sargent and Nasonia Pharmaceutical. Although ambivalent about the assignment and uneasy about her online “friend,” Loki, she is enticed into researching what Sargent is doing with insect genetics that might upset the world of cancer research and treatment. Old friends Farrugia and Gennaro uncover a twisted conspiracy from their past and join Bianca in Boston where they will experience conflicted loyalties, question allies, and confront uncertain enemies, as they’re drawn into the wasp’s nest.

Threading the Needle (Book #3) by Gabriel Valjan 

Milan. Bianca’s curiosity gets a young university student murdered, but not before he gives her a file that details a secret weapon under development with defense contractor Adastra. Guilt may drive her to find justice for the slain Charlie Brooks, but she is warned by the mysterious Loki to stay away from this case that runs deep with conspiracy. Bianca must find a way to uncover government secrets and corporate alliances without returning Italy to one of its darkest hours, the decades of daily terrorism known as the “Years of Lead.”

Turning to Stone (Book #4) by Gabrial Valjan

Alabaster Black aka Bianca Nerini returns as an investigation into a public official’s assassination pits Bianca and her friends against a backdrop of financial speculation, female assassins on motorcycles, and the Camorra—the most ruthless of Italian organized crime gangs—in Gabriel Valjan’s TURNING TO STONE, the fourth book of the highly praised Roma series.

En route to a secret meeting, Aldo Giurlani—the regional commissioner of Lombardy in northern Italy and a specialist on organized crime—is assassinated in the middle of a public square.

More mysterious is the package sent to Giurlani’s hand-picked team of five top investigators within the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), the Italian law enforcement agency that investigates illegal financial transactions, from money laundering to drug trafficking. Within the package are five copies of a book entitled Man of Smoke written by Aldo Palazzeschi.

Then there is Bianca’s tenuous online contact with a mysterious online contact known as Loki, who delivers a cryptic message to her, takes on a new twist with the appearance of a brilliant young obsessive-compulsive man who joins her team.

Complicating matters even further, old enemies and, more problematically, Alabaster’s former employer—Rendition, a murky covert U.S. government agency that does more than just investigate financial crimes—still have grudges to bear against her.

As new mysteries unfold, Bianca’s group quickly discovers that Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.

Readers looking for a suspenseful thriller with mysterious twists and turns abounding will love Gabriel Valjan’s TURNING TO STONE.

Hope you all got great books in your mailbox!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Alchemy's Daughter by Mary A. Osborne (Review and Giveaway)

Alchemy's Daughter by Mary A. Osborne
Lake Street Press
ISBN: 978-1936181179
Published May 2015
Trade Paperback, 288 pages

Book Description:

In medieval San Gimignano, Italy, daughters of merchants are expected to marry. But Santina Pietra cares only for Calandrino, a brilliant young scholar who is preoccupied with his ancient alchemical texts.

Soon Santina meets Trotula, the village midwife, who might or might not be a "strega," a witch. Trotula challenges her to forget Calandrino and become the woman she is meant to be. Some say she is a victim of the midwife’s spell, but Santina is determined to follow in Trotula’s footsteps even as calamities strike.

My Review:

A story set in medieval Italy, a strong female protagonist, midwifery, science, romance, adventure, the Black Death, betrayal, intrigue...these are just some of the elements that made me love reading Alchemy's Daughter. Santina is a great character, well-developed, strong and yet vulnerable, living in a time when science was little understood and women could be considered witches and burned just for practicing advanced medicine little understood at the time.

She is also young and in love, and we feel strongly her coming of age as she makes the bold move to defy convention and live with Trotula, a strong and intelligent woman who would become her mentor. I was totally fascinated by the midwifery practices and very impressed by Osborne's meticulous research. The author also includes a timeline of historical events, sketched maps and a glossary of the Italian words used throughout the text.

I loved Osborne's writing style, which was fluid and compelling. Through the plot, setting and dialogue, we can see that the author understood 14th century Italy with the strong influence of the Church, small village life and endless gossip. I couldn't get enough of this story as I was transported to an era in which I am glad not to have been born, especially since I had to undergo a C-section when giving birth to my children.

This story entertained me and touched me deeply as the plight of some pregnant mothers brought tears to my eyes. It made me applaud the women in the past who took a stand to help their gender and the author for writing about a young woman who chose to be different even at great cost to herself. This was historical fiction at its best and I am Osborne's newest fan. I now look forward to reading her first novel Nonna's Book of Mysteries.

To read more reviews, please visit Mary A. Osborne's page on Italy Book Tours.

Where to buy the book:

About the Author

Mary A. Osborne is the multiple award-winning author of Alchemy's Daughter and Nonna’s Book of Mysteries. A graduate of Rush University and Knox College, where she was mentored in the Creative Writing Program, Ms. Osborne is a registered nurse and holds degrees in chemistry and nursing. Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as Hektoen International, Newcity, and the Ms. Osborne lives in Chicago.

Connect with Mary: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter


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Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.