Book Review & Giveaway: Venetian Blood by Christine Evelyn Volker

Book Title: Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City
Author: Christine Evelyn Volker
Category: Adult Fiction, 328 pages
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: She Writes Press
Release date: August 2017
Tour dates: Sept 25 to Oct 6, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There are a few instances of bad language and a scene with partial nakedness but little concrete description)

 

Book Description

Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend—but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into a police station and accused of murdering a money laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. In the days that follow, Anna, a US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, fights to clear her name in a seductive city of watery illusions. But as she tries to pry clues from a cast of uncooperative characters who implausibly deny what she sees and hears, she begins to question whether they are hiding something…or she is losing touch with reality. Racing to unlock secrets, she succeeds instead in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears?

A captivating tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is the story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth—before it’s too late.

 

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Poor Anna is on a vacation in Venice to relax and forget her problems but she finds more problems than she can handle while she is there. She’s a suspect in a murder case, an affair during a conference that was a big mistake keeps coming back to haunt her, and she thinks someone is trying to kill her. She is having difficulty trusting anyone she meets but that is a good thing because some of the people she meets are pretty shady.

Venetian Blood contains a lot of history and descriptions of Venice. Since the author knows international banking, she is able to make the banking aspects of the book seem authentic. The characters are interesting and complex but for some reason, I wasn’t able to invest them, not even Anna. I wanted to but it just wasn’t there.

There are suspense and action in Venetian Blood and even a surprise ending, although I had it figured out. 

 

 

Buy the Book:

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Meet the Author

Christine Evelyn Volker became intrigued by foreign cultures at an early age, which propelled her to study Spanish, German, and Italian. After pursuing an MLS and an MBA, she was drawn to international banking and became a senior vice president at a global financial institution. Her career brought her to Italy, where she immersed herself in the language and made frequent visits to Venice. A native New Yorker, she resides with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, where she heads a local library non-profit organization and writes about environmental sustainability. She is currently at work on her second international mystery, this one set in the rainforest of Peru.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook
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Book Review & Giveaway: Dreaming Sophia by Melissa Muldoon

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Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.

Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.
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Buy the Book:  

My Review

I received a free e-copy of this book and chose to review it. All opinions are my own and are unbiased.

Dreaming Sophia is about a woman who experiences a tragedy early in her life. She learns to cope with it by embracing her love of art and history. She relies on “dreaming” about important historical figures who help her make decisions and get through life.

I have never been to Italy but Melissa Muldoon brings the art and history of Italy come alive. I happen to have a book with amazing photos of Italy so I took that out and it made the reading of this book even more injoyable.

I recommend Dreaming Sophia to anyone who enjoys good fiction that incorporates the history of Italy.

 

 

About the Author

melissa-muldoonMelissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, “matta” means “crazy” or “impassioned”. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano” and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.
Dreaming Sophia is Melissa’s first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.

Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.
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Connect with the Author:  

Website  ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Youtube ~ Pinterest

Giveaway

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Prizes: Win a copy of Dreaming Sophia (print open to USA & Can, ebook int’l)

One winner will get the grand prize package that includes a copy of the book, calendar, mug and tote bag (USA & CAN only) 7 winners total

Ends Dec 24

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Book Review: Daughter of Mine by Laura Fabiani

5820919Title: Daughter of Mine by Laura Fabiani
Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction, 204 pages
Publisher: iUniverse
Published: Sept 2008
Content Rating: G

Book Description

Tiziana Manoretti is an only child in her late twenties blessed with loving parents, a promising career, and a best friend who fiercely protects her. When her mother falls seriously ill and the relationship between her parents becomes suddenly strained, a carefully hidden family secret is revealed and Tiziana’s seemingly idealistic world is turned upside down. After discovering she was born in a Naples orphanage and subsequently given up for adoption, Tiziana sets out for the small town of Gaeta in an attempt to find her birth parents. Meanwhile, her best friend Christopher is sending her mixed messages, causing her to wonder if there is more to their relationship than just companionship.

As she becomes intertwined with a handful of interesting characters who help her uncover her past, Tiziana needs to decide whether her feelings for Christopher are deeper than she realizes. She discovers herself and others all while her family’s resilience and love for one another is tested when confronted with a shocking truth. The answers lie in a box found in a closet in Italy, and Tiziana must determine if she wants to embrace the heartache and the pain from her past in order to learn forgiveness and find peace in the future.

Buy the book: Amazon

 

My Review

I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

Daughter of Mine is about Tiziana, a successful single woman who finds out that she was adopted. She has some difficulty with the fact that her loving parents kept this secret from her for 27 years. She decides she’d like to know more about her birth parents and travels to Italy with the little information her father provided her with.

I enjoyed following Tiziana’s journey as she makes new friends and finds out the truth about her birth. There are a few surprises along the way and within a few short days, she changes the lives of many people. Best of all, she finds love while she is there.

I like Laura Fabiani’s writing. She has a gift for describing the scenery and the people of Italy. I definitely recommend Daughter of Mine.

 

About the Author

(from Goodreads)

2632999My name is Laura Fabiani and I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I’m an author, book reviewer and blogger since 2009. My reading tastes vary greatly and I read both fiction and non-fiction. I review adult, YA and children’s books, since I love reading to my children. I review books for pleasure and learning. I prefer books free of profanity, explicit sex, violence or paranormal themes. I post my reviews on my blog Library of Clean Reads, Goodreads, and Amazon.

As of January 2014, I have started iRead Book Tours in collaboration with Author Marketing Experts. I now coordinate virtual book tours for authors. Find us atwww.iReadBookTours.com.

I have a degree in Special Care Counseling and have worked as a psychiatric child counselor and as a special education technician at various institutions. I hold a diploma in Writing for Children and Teenagers and an advanced certificate in TESOL from the Canadian Institute of English. I am currently working in a community centre developing and implementing adapted programs for senior’s with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I am married to a wonderful man, have two children and I’m trying to write my second novel. It’s a busy life!

Book Review & Giveaway: Birds of Passage by Joe Giordano

Birds of Passage by Joe Giordano

The Kindle copy of Birds of Passage will be free to download  for five days starting the day after the end of this virtual tour (Saturday, November 7th through Wednesday, November 11th).

Description

What turns the gentle mean and the mean brutal? The thirst for wealth? The demand for respect? Vying for a woman? Birds of Passage recalls the Italian immigration experience at the turn of the twentieth-century when New York’s streets were paved with violence and disappointment.

Leonardo Robustelli leaves Naples in 1905 to seek his fortune. Carlo Mazzi committed murder and escaped. Azzura Medina is an American of Italian parents. She’s ambitious but strictly controlled by her mother. Leonardo and Carlo vie for her affection.

Azzura, Leonardo, and Carlo confront con men, Tammany Hall politicians, the longshoreman’s union, Camorra clans, Black Hand extortion, and the Tombs prison.

Buy the book here:    Amazon.

 

My Review

I recieved a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

Birds of Passage is about Italian immigrants who found their way to New York at the turn of the century. What they found were ghettos, violence, gangs, corruption, and prejudice. There’s a lot of history included in this novel but it’s well presented and it kept my interest. 

The characters are interesting. Azzura was born in America to Italian parents so she doesn’t understand some of the Italian ways, such as vendettas. She’s my favorite character, though, because she knows what she believes and what she wants. She almost gives in to her parents and tradition at one point, but she comes to her senses and stays headstrong and independent. Leonardo and Carlo start out as opposites. Leonardo just wants to find his destiny while Carlo is a spoiled aristocrat who ends up having to run to America after committing a crime. Eventually, New York corrupts Leonardo and he ends up just like Carlo. It was pretty sad but I can see how that could happen.

I really enjoyed Birds of Passage. It had been a while since I read historical fiction about early America, which is my favorite. The only thing I didn’t like was the end, but if you like historical fiction, I definitely recommend it.

 

Author’s Bio

Joe GiordanoJoe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. His father and grandparents immigrated to New York from Naples. Joe and his wife, Jane have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu Sophia. Joe’s stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, The Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review.

 

Connect with the author:   Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook

Giveaway

 Win 1 of 3 copies of Birds of Passage (print book USA & Canada) (ebook international)

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Book Review & Giveaway: Turning to Stone by Gabriel Valjan

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About the Book

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.

Buy the book here:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble

My Review

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Turning to Stone is the fourth book in the Roma Series. I read the first three books in the series, Roma, Underground, Wasp’s Nest, and Threading the Needle and was looking forward to reading this  one.  The characters are starting to feel like old friends.

Alabaster Black, aka Bianca Nerini and Dante, her boyfriend, and his team are once again faced with a murder mystery that turns out to open a can of worms. There are many twists in Turning to Stone and this time they are faced with the Italian mafia. Gabriel Valjan based a lot of this story on fact which makes it rather disturbing.

With each book, I learn more about each character.  Bianca and Dante are still together but they don’t spend enough time with each other. I’m often afraid that they’re going to part ways but they do seem to be in love and will, hopefully, be able to stay together and keep each other happy. Dante’s team works well together, and with Bianca, each bringing something unique to the table.

Gabriel Valjan’s writing flows well. He always incorporates Italian history and there is a surprise or two in Turning to Stone. I’m looking forward to reading the next book, Corporate Citizen. There is an excerpt from it at the end of Turning to Stone so, of course, now I need to find out what is going to happen.

About the Author

Gabriel ValjanGabriel Valjan lives in New England, but has traveled extensively, receiving his undergraduate education in California and completing graduate school in England. Ronan Bennett short-listed him for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize for his Boston noir, Back in the Day. His short stories and poetry have appeared in literary journals and online magazines.

Connect with the author:   Website     Twitter     Facebook

Giveaway

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