Welcome to Book Lovers Paradise

Welcome to my attempt at blogging. I am a true to heart bibliophile. Here I will discuss and review books as I read them. You are welcome to do the same. The only rules are no profanity, no politics, no religion, and have fun!
Donna

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TOWERS OF TUSCANY



Publication 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.


my thoughts


A wonderful book worth reading. Carol M Cram has created a masterpiece. 

Sofia is a strong willed woman who wants to paint. Early Renaissance is the time, Italy the place. More specifically a small town called San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Sofia is painting in a time when women were encouraged to have children, clean the house and keep quiet. Very few women knew how to read and write, never mind paint. 

Each chapter begins with a short painting technique explained before the story proceeds.

The reader is transported to another time. I found this book entertaining and educational. The action is ongoing throughout the story.

5/5 stars for a very well written, and highly researched story!


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.


Buy the Book

Amazon (Ebook)
Amazon (Paperback)

Author Links










Wednesday, April 9, 2014

TOWERS OF TUSCANY BOOKBLAST

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. 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 painterís 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, Sofiaís desire for freedom from her fatherís 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, Sofiaís 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 passionóboth 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. READ AN EXCERPT.
The Towers of Tuscany
 

Praise for The Towers of Tuscany

ìThe 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!î - Anne Fortier, Author of The Lost Sisterhood and the New York Times bestseller, Juliet ìCarol 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.î ñ 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 ìSofia 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.î ñ Cathleen With, award-winning author of Having Faith in the Polar Girlsí Prison

Buy the Book

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

About the AuthorCarol 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

Website Blog Goodreads Facebook Twitter

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

Giveaway

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

BOOK OF BART cover reveal

COVER REVEAL



I'm excited to reveal the cover for Book of Bart, a young-adult, humorous, satirical paranormal-fantasy by Ryan Hill, which is scheduled for release May 22nd, 2014.



About Book of Bart:
Genre: young-adult, humorous, satirical paranormal-fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: May 22nd, 2014
Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts 

Blurb: 
Only one thing is so powerful, so dangerous that Heaven and Hell must work together to find it: the Shard of Gabriel.
With a mysterious Black Cloud of Death hot on the shard’s trail, a desperate Heaven enlists the help of Bart, a demon who knows more about the shard than almost anyone. Six years
ago, he had it in his hands. If only he’d used it before his coup to overthrow the devil failed. Now, he’s been sprung from his eternal punishment to help Samantha, an angel in training, recover the shard before the Black Cloud of Death finds it.
If Bartholomew wants to succeed, he’ll have to fight the temptation to betray Samantha and the allure of the shard. After an existence full of evil, the only way Bart can get right with Hell is to be good.

Add Book of Bart to your Goodreads 'to-be-read' list.




About Ryan Hill:
Growing up, Ryan Hill used to spend his time reading and writing instead of doing homework. This resulted in an obsession with becoming a writer, but also a gross incompetence in the fields of science and mathematics. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie. Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.
Find Ryan Hill Online:


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sinners and the Sea...the Story of Noah's Wife


SINNERS AND THE SEA by Rebecca Kanner is on eBook sale right now through April 7th for only $1.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Google Play

we will be reviewing this book as part of the blog tour.  Our stop on this tour is April 30th, but for now, anyone interested in the story of Noah's wife, the book is on sale!!!




Monday, March 31, 2014

The Medici Boy


Astor + Blue Editions is proud to release perhaps the most passionate work of master storyteller, John L’Heureux, in The Medici Boy [ISBN:  978-1-938231-50-6 (Hard Cover); ISBN: 978-1-938231-48-3 (E-book); US $25.95; Historical / Literary Fiction; 346 Pages, April, 2014].  Described as “one of America’s greatest living writers” by the Financial Times of London, L’Heureux returns with a long-awaited new historical fiction novel; the result of years of research—backed by a Guggenheim Grant—on location in Europe.


Donatello: Art, Pain, Passion, Murder
Renowned Literary Writer Renders Controversial Life of
Mysterious Renaissance Genius


John L’Heureux has built a gripping story of love, genius and betrayal.”
--JM Coetzee, Nobel Prize for Literature, Booker Prize Winner

“Deeply enjoyable, The Medici Boy soars like an operatic aria, before breaking our hearts.”
--David Henry Hwang, playwright, M. Butterfly, Chinglish

L’Heureux’s is certainly one of America’s greatest living writers. I’d put him in the top ten...And now he’s come out with his first new novel in ten years, The Medici Boy, and it’s a masterpiece, the most ambitious, beautiful, and complex novel I’ve read this year…”
--David Vann, Financial Times of London

about the book

The worlds of art, politics and passion collide in John L’Heureux’s masterful new novel, The Medici Boy. With rich composition, L’Heureux ingeniously transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy—directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant. While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to Agnolo’s brutal murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save the life of Donatello, even if it means the life of the master sculptor’s friend and great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici. John L’Heureux’s long-awaited novel delivers both a monumental and intimate narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers. With incisive detail, L’Heureux beautifully renders the master sculptor’s forbidden homosexual passions, and the artistry that enthralled the powerful and highly competitive Medici and Albizzi families. The finished work is a sumptuously detailed historical novel that entertains while it delves deeply into both the sacred and the profane within one of the Italian Renaissance’s most consequential cities, fifteenth century Florence.



my thoughts

To begin, I was given a copy of this book for review.  I was neither asked,nor encouraged to write a positive review.

Now, with housekeeping out of the way,  I truly enjoyed this novel.

The Renaissance period is amazing..and this book is no exception.
We see the inner workings of the workshop of the great Donatello, through the eyes of Luca Matteo.
Luca is a young man who, himself, is fascinated by the great Donatello. He arrives at the workshop of the master via a convoluted path.  We see his character grow and change throughout the novel.  We see and feel his love, anger, feelings of betrayal and ultimately his horrific act of violence to protect the master Donatello.

We learn about the fine artisanship that occurs in the master's workshop.  We meet several high placed renaissance individuals, including Cosimo de Medici and his arch enemy, the Albizzi's.  We become embroiled in the political mess that was Renaissance Italy.

Mostly, this is a sad story about forbidden love.  

We watch as Donatello creates his DAVID statue, while he himself, the mighty Goliath of this time is being brought to his knees by his love for the model of David.

I found myself feeling pity for the great master, as well as for Luca, the teller of the story.  

While reading, I kept thinking Donatello IS the Medici Boy, but as I finished the novel, I realized the true identity of THE MEDICI BOY.  

Heartbreaking, thought provoking, gut wrenching.  This novel will affect you one way or another.

I give this book 4/5 stars and encourage anyone interested in art, or Renaissance Florence to read this well written book.  You will not be disappointed.  But...if you can't tolerate gore, skip over the part about the cat...



I would like to include the links for the book




there is also a fabulous readers guide (great for book clubs)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning poet, novelist, and short story writer, John L’Heureux has taught at Georgetown University, Tufts, Harvard, and (for more than 35 years) in the English Department of Stanford University where he was Lane Professor of Humanities.  There he received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and earned it again in 1998.

A prolific writer, L’Heureux has written more than twenty books of fiction, short fiction and poetry.  His works have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and have been included in dozens of anthologies including Best American Stories and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards.

John L’Heureux has twice received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2006 he was awarded a Guggenheim Grant to do research for The Medici Boy, his new novel.

He is retired and lives in Palo Alto with his wife Joan.
###






Side view of Donatello's David .  His foot is resting on the head of Goliath.


Notice the fine detail in the face of Donatello's DAVID.


Advance Praise for

The Medici Boy


"On the basis of Donatello's great statue of David, and against the background of the witchhunt against gay men in 15th-century Florence, John L'Heureux has built a gripping story of love, genius, and betrayal."

-- JM Coetzee,
 Nobel Prize for Literature and two- time Booker Prize award winning author, Elizabeth Costello, Waiting for the Barbarians, Disgrace.


Financial Times of London Review, April 2014
“John L’Heureux is certainly one of America’s greatest living writers.  I’d put him in the top ten.  His oeuvre of almost twenty books (novels, short stories, and poems) has had a tremendous influence on several generations of American writers, including Tobias Wolff, Harriet Doerr, Ron Hansen, Lan Samantha Chang, David Henry Hwang, and dozens of others.  And now he’s come out with his first new novel in ten years, The Medici Boy, and it’s a masterpiece, the most ambitious, beautiful, and complex novel I’ve read this year…

“In The Medici Boy, you’ll certainly become caught up in sex and murder, betrayal and political upheaval, love and desire and the ferocious creation of the beautiful in sculpture, but you’ll also catch a glimpse of where it is that art and religion point to in us, our finer, quieter makings.” 

-- David Vann,
Financial Times of London Review


“A novel bursting with love -- collegial, artistic and erotic. John L'Heureux brings to life the bliss and treachery of the Italian Renaissance through prose as passionate as his characters. Deeply enjoyable, THE MEDICI BOY soars like an operatic aria, before breaking our hearts.”

-- David Henry Hwang
Playwright, M. Butterfly, Chinglish.

"Lust, envy, greed. Pride. Wrath. Set John L'Heureux loose in 15th-century Florence; give him Donatello, Cosimo de Medici, a royal flush of deadly sins, and a boy too handsome for his own good, and watch a master at work, and at play. There is no time and no place and no human transaction that L'Heureux can't plunder to assemble the kind of novel his fans expect, and his fans-to-be have never before encountered. Luminous, intelligent, funny, shocking, and, yes: revelatory.”

-- Kathryn Harrison
New York Times Bestselling Author, Enchantments, Envy, The Seal Wife

“Intensely appealing, viscerally gripping, and unfailingly human in its characters, L’Heureux’s most recent novel beckons with the undeniable promise of great writing to all lovers of historical literary fiction that easily manages to transcend its time parameters.”

-- Booklist
STARRED REVIEW


Critical Acclaim for

John L’Heureux

“A writer who picks up his readers by the scruff of the neck and won’t let go.”
--Chicago Tribune

“A deeply ambitious novelist, one who isn’t afraid of dealing with dark themes and what it means to be fully human, especially in the frightening and ecstatic world we create behind the darkened bedroom walls.”
--New York Times Book Review

“L’Heureux’s efforts to weave myth., extremity, and a religious note… [are] powerful and original.”
--Los Angeles Times Book Review