Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: The Medici Boy by Jon L'Heureux

The Medici Boy by Jon L'Heureux
346 pages, Hardcover
Astor + Blue Productions, April 2014

Source: Provided by publisher for review

This has been quite the entertaining read.  It follows Luca from the dying house, to a monastery and into the bottega of Donatello. We get to see into the complicated, artistic lives of the mastersculpter, models, his assistants and patrons. Jealousy, money and dangerous relationships make for lots of intrigue and entertainment. 

I enjoyed the setting immensely. Fifteenth century Florence is brought to life by L'HEUREUX. You can almost smell the Arno and the blood of the executed, and feel the heat of the summer. I loved reading about the making of these pieces of art that I saw in Florence on my visit to the city in 2008. 

A great read for anyone interested in Renaissance art and artists. 


Barnes & Noble:


the book’s free reader’s guide (great for book clubs):

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
256 pages, Hardcover
Delacorte Press, April 2014

Source: NetGalley
I really didn't know what to expect with this one. It was written by Ann Brasheres who wrote the ever popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. It was a totally different type of story. It reminded me more of the Terminator actually, without the scary Terminator that is. 
Prenna and her community have time traveled from a future where climate change and disease has desolated the population. She thinks they are coming back to change things for the better but is surprised to learn from a mysterious stranger that that might be the last thing they are planning on doing.  With the help of Ethan, a "time native" she meets in school, she sets out to try and change the future herself. 

I enjoyed the story but wasn't surprised by the twists. I figured out a lot of them ahead of time but that didn't keep me from reading and enjoying. It was a good thriller mixed with a bit of romance. I believe kids really will love this and hope for more books about Prenna and Ethan.

For more info about the author and her other books visit her WEBSITE.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Blast and GIVEAWAY: The Towers of Tuscany by Carol Cram

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and author Carol M. Cram are excited to announce The Towers of Tuscany Book Blast! Join us from April 7-13 as The Towers of Tuscany is featured around the blogosphere, along with a chance to win one of three copies of this amazing new novel! Called “a beautifully crafted masterpiece of historical fiction“, “lush”, and “page-turning” Cram’s debut novel will appeal to readers who enjoy a strong female lead who, against great odds, dares to follow a dream. The Towers of Tuscany includes a Reader’s Guide making it a perfect Book Club pick! In honor of the Book Blast we are giving away three copies to three lucky readers, see below to enter.

About the book

The Towers of TuscanyPublication Date: January 23, 2014
New Arcadia Publishing
Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Genre: Historical Fiction

Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter’s workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is convincing her father to let her marry Giorgio Carelli, a wealthy saffron merchant in San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia’s desire for freedom from her father’s workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son.

In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion—both as a painter and as a woman. Sofia escapes to Siena where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.

The Towers of Tuscany unites a strong heroine with meticulously researched settings and compelling characters drawn from the rich tapestry of medieval Italy during one of Europe’s most turbulent centuries. The stylishly written plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep readers up long past their bedtimes.


The Towers of Tuscany


Praise for The Towers of Tuscany

“The Towers of Tuscany is a delightful escape to the Siena we all love. Carol Cram has crafted a delicious story about a strong woman torn between her secret past, her love of painting and the forbidden charms of her rich patron. Hard to resist and highly recommended!” – Anne Fortier, Author of The Lost Sisterhood and the New York Times bestseller, Juliet

“Carol Cram’s lush descriptions and intriguing characters bring this dramatic tale of medieval Tuscany to life. If you love Italian art, a feisty heroine, and a page-turning plot, you will adore this novel.” – Deborah Swift, Author of A Divided Inheritance

“The Towers of Tuscany has all the elements of a wonderful historical novel―a talented, frustrated heroine, a treacherous, feckless husband, and a promise to a dying, much loved father who orders the heroine on a dangerous mission. Carol is a first rate storyteller. The research is well done. Every chapter displays a fine knowledge of painting technique of the 14th century, and customs and mores of the age. The details of dress, fabric, food, are flawless. The clever dialogue and fast pace make the novel zing along.” – Roberta Rich, Author of The Midwife of Venice and The Harem Midwife

“Sofia will set your heart racing as she attempts to find what we all, in our own ways, strive to seek: love, resolution, and artistic freedom. The legacy of this story will leave you yearning for more.” – Cathleen With, award-winning author of Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison

Buy the Book

Amazon (Ebook)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author

Carol Cram

Carol M. Cram has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist.

She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada.

Author Links


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 7
Literary Chanteuse
Bibliophilia, Please
Cheryl’s Book Nook
A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Confessions of an Avid Reader

Tuesday, April 8
Mari Reads
Peeking Between the Pages
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, April 9
Reviews by Molly
Susan Heim on Writing
Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, April 10
Passages to the Past
Book Lovers Paradise
To Read or Not to Read
Curling Up With a Good Book

Friday, April 11
Words and Peace
The Mad Reviewer
Historical Fiction Obsession

Saturday, April 12
Book Nerd
Layered Pages
Princess of Eboli
Kelsey’s Book Corner

Sunday, April 13
West Metro Mommy
The True Book Addict
Caroline Wilson Writes


To enter to win one of 3 copies of The Towers of Tuscany please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on April 14th and notified via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

 photo a62b1feb-5b43-4c2a-a17c-9644bf70d54e.png

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The London Eye: London with the 3 yo

And the weekend continued. 

Sunday we went back to the London Eye since it closed on us Saturday. I have to say, I am so glad it didn't breakdown while we were on it. Can you imagine? Trapped in a little compartment with a 3 yo way up high and no way to get out. What if she would have had to go bathroom? Yeah, happy we were still in line. 

No need to worry. We had a very uneventful ride. The little girl got a little antsy, but she liked it. For Easter, they had large colorful bunnies all over Jubilee Gardens. The little girl entertained herself by searching the landscape for all of them. 

She had spotted the playground there so we let her play there for a bit after getting off the London Eye. Nice little place for me to have a sit down while the hubby and little girl played. 

From here we walked across the Thames to Covent Garden area to get lunch. Home Slice was this little pizza place down a small alley way. Josh Brolin was there, as well, so I guess we chose well. ;)

We got seated right away and had a really good thin crust pizza. Half margharita and half lamb shoulder and goat cheese. Yum! 

Shorter day today, and yet the little girl crashed in the stroller on the walk back to the flat after our lunch. The hubby went for a bike ride while we snoozed. 

Westminster: London with the 3 year old

We had a lovely weekend full of sight seeing and lots of walking. We walked across Blackfriars bridge both Saturday and Sunday to Southbank, then all the way round to Westminster bridge and the London Eye along the Queen's Walk. Then all the way back to Farringdon. 

Yes, my feet hurt. Today I am sitting on the couch. It's raining. Good excuse to stay in. 

Saturday's plan was to ride the London Eye then see the Westminster sites. The large wheel had other plans. It stopped working as we neared the front of the line. They closed it down so we left. The little girl was sad but we promised to come back. 

We headed across the bridge with the very large crowds of people and saw Big Ben, or as the little girl calls it, "Big Jack". No clue why. We then walked past Westminster Abbey. 

Buckingham palace was next on our list. Instead of walking along the Mall, we strolled through St. James park. Beautiful day for it. Lots of flowers, green grass and ducks. The little girl loved running around here. 

A quick walk by the palace and into Green park where the little girl played and ran around again. We couldn't go in, so of course she wasn't too interested. 

On our walk to lunch, we passed Bond St and Saville Row. Lots of fancy, expensive shops. Very posh. Saw a Lamberghini or two. 

We were going to eat at Honest burger but the wait was a little longer than we could handle so went next door to Wahaca. Mexican food. It wasn't bad. We were pleasantly surprised. 

We collapsed on the couch back in our rented flat after walking back. I grabbed a glass of wine and we watched Saturday Night Takeaway before all going to bed. 

I think I will save Sunday for a separate post. 


Friday, April 4, 2014

The Tower of London: London with the Three Year Old, cont.

I wasn't sure if the little girl would enjoy the Tower of London or not after chatting with the hubby's coworker. His girls were not too interested in it and were a little scared actually. 

We had no need to worry. The little girl was very excited about seeing the tower, the Beefeaters, the Crown Jewels and the ravens. She knew all about these things before going so she was well prepared. 

We went in the afternoon when the hubby was free to join us. That was great. So much easier for him to carry her when needed. Especially on the windy stairs in the keep when pushy teens want to rush by a slow three year old. 

There was a new cafe within the walls that made for a nice snack and coffee break. It was a good thing we did, too, since we didn't eat until almost 8! Dinner was at an Indian restaurant in Whitechapel. Not where we had planned on going but still good. 

As you can imagine, I really wanted to walk around and find the sites where one of the most notorious serial killer haunted the streets and alleys. I have always been fascinated with Jack the Ripper, but didn't think it appropriate with a 3 and 2 year old. Dinner was with another coworker and his family here from India. 

Jack the Ripper walking tour will just have to wait for my next trip minus the little girl. 

Vacation books: Faithful Place by Tana French, The Medici Boy by John l'Heureux

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose
384 pages, Hardcover
Atria Books, April 2014

Source: Provided by publisher/NetGalley in exchange for review

Jaq is back! This time a little more open to the possibility that she has lived past lives. She is dealing with a great loss but is determined to finish the work of her brother. In a strange home with strange people and only one friend to depend on, Jaq delves into the past and the power of perfume once again. 

Absolutely loved this new chapter in Rose's Reincarnationist series. Jaq seems stronger and more open to what she doesn't understand. The history of Rene, the perfumer of Catherine of Aragon, was engrossing and Griffin is back on the scene. Rene's story and his pursuit for the "elixir of life" using the last breaths of the dying was my favorite part of the book. It is a time period I am really interested in so it made for a very enjoyable read. 

For more information on the book and author visit her WEBSITE.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

London with a 3 year old: British Museum

We are in London for ten days, traveling with the hubby who's here on business. First day in the city was a loss. We got into our airbnb apartment around 2 and promptly napped. We know, we shouldn't have but it was inevitable. Out for a walk and dinner at the pub then bed. The little girl had other ideas. She seemed to think it was a nap and only slept three hours! 

Tuesday, after a rough night/morning, the hubby went to work and the little girl and I walked to the British Museum. Glad I brought the stroller. The little girl would have been very whiny had I not.  

We saw mummies, the Rosetta Stone and some really large and old sculptures. Including this horses head which was part of the Parthenon. 

Little girl had little interest, instead wanting to go back to the cafe for a cupcake and the shop for a purple feather pen. 

Glad this museum is free, because we were there less than two hours. We left and walked to a garden not far from there where the little girl got to run around for a bit, play with sticks and smell some flowers. 
We then walked to Coram's Fields and got some playground time. A good hour to play. The little girl was exhausted. She fell asleep in her stroller on our walk back. 

It was a good day. 

Wednesday, We stayed in. She slept until 11, we watched BBC kids programming on CBeebies, read books and took a long bath. Then went to dinner with the hubby and one of his coworkers, also in from the states. 

The restaurant we went to was great. Perfect for dining with a kid. They had a kids menu and crayons to keep her entertained and a really nice waiter that seemed to enjoy having a kid to wait on. So, if you are ever in London with your kids be sure to try Carluccio's. Food was pretty good, too. 

Tomorrow afternoon we are going to the Tower of London. The little girl has been talking about the beefeaters, the crown and the tower for a while now. Hoping it lives up to her expectations. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown

The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown
320 pages, Paperback
Sourcebooks Landmark, April 2014

Source: Provided by publisher/NetGalley in exchange for review

Carlene, owner of a lingerie shop in a small town in North Texas discovers a pair of red undies she designed in her husband's briefcase. They are not hers, but she knows exactly who she made them for. This begins the crazy, but fun antics of her family to get back at her cheating husband Lenny.

This was so much fun. It reminded me a bit of Steel Magnolias and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. The sisters are hilarious, the cousins have a great relationship and the men in their lives (minus Lenny) are sweet, supportive and understanding of their craziness. There is small town, out-of-control gossip, old ladies having cat fights, and some really hot...chili.

I really enjoyed this book. It was laugh-out-loud funny, fast paced and reminiscent of many Texas ladies I knew when I lived there. 

For more info about the book and author visit her WEBSITE.

The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off will be published Tuesday, April 1st! Be sure to go get yourself a copy.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Groupon Books!

I got $40 worth of books for $24 at Books, Inc.! Woohoo. 
Well, I may have gone over a bit. Shh.
A few books for me, a few for the little girl...
Let's just say, we had a nice day.
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.