Category: Italy Book Tours

Coins in the Fountain Book Spotlight Tour

Italy Book Tours

Part memoir, part travelogue, Coins in the Fountain will amuse and intrigue you with the stories of food, friends, and the adventures of a couple who ran away to join the circus (the Circus Maximus, that is).

Coins in the Foutain Book Spotlight Tour

About Coins in the Fountain

Innocents Abroad collide with La Dolce Vita when the author and her husband arrive in the ancient city of Rome fresh from the depths of Oregon. While the author endeavored to learn the folkways of the United Nations, her husband tangled with unfamiliar vegetables in a valiant effort to learn to cook Italian-style. In between, they attended weddings, enjoyed a close-up with the pope, tried their hands at grape harvesting, and savored country weekends where the ancient Etruscans still seemed to be lurking. Along the way they made many unforgettable friends including the countess with a butt-reducing machine and a count who served as a model for naked statues of horsemen in his youth.

But not everything was wine and wonders. Dogs in the doctor’s exam room, neighbors in the apartment in the middle of the night, an auto accident with the military police, a dangerous fall in the subway, too many interactions with an excitable landlord, snakes and unexploded bombs on a golf course, and a sinking sailboat, all added more seasoning to the spaghetti sauce of their life.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

About the Author

Life was routine until the author decided to get a law degree. Then a chance meeting led her to run away to the Circus (Maximus) – actually to the United Nations office next door – where she worked as an attorney in the HR department and entered the world of expat life in Rome.

Her publishing credits include a memoir about ten years in Italy titled Coins in the Fountain, a novel about expats in Rome, City of Illusions, and flash fiction in literary magazines. She continues to travel in her spare time, having fitted in over 100 countries. And when she is in Rome, she always tosses a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure another visit.

Connect with her on:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   Instagram   Blog

The Giveaway!

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Turning to Stone by Gabriel Valjan

Italy Book Tours

Book four in the Roma Series, Turning to Stone finds our favourite team fighting against the most powerful and ruthless mafia gang, the Camorra.

Turning to Stone Book Review

About Turning to Stone

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.

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.

My Thoughts

Wow, wow, wow! Just when you think a series can’t get any better! I fell in love with book four in the Roma Series as the past collides with the present in a unique and suspenseful unfolding. You never quite know what to expect in this novel.

This was by far the best novel in this series as Gabriel slowly reveals and pulls back the story layer after layer. The other three novels make small appearances and patterns left slightly undone come together. While you don’t have to read the other three novels to understand this particular one, you really should to get the full effect and impact this novel makes. Bianca is at her finest in this novel. Her character has really developed from book one and we are able to glimpse the more human side of her. The side of her that loves and cares, not just the girl who can tear down corruption in companies.

Book Four, Turning to Stone, is a novel you do not want to miss out on. It has something for everyone in it that will have you reading long into the night.

You can purchase a copy of Turning to Stone on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Gabriel 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.

The Giveaway!

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

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Birds of Passage by Joe Giordano

Italy Book Tours

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.

Birds of PassageAbout Birds of Passage

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.

My Thoughts

As a third generation Canadian Italian, I never had to go racism or cultural hate. I have never been assumed to be a certain way because of my heritage. When I pick up and read a novel like Birds of Passage, I can then relate to what my ancestors did when they sailed across the ocean for a better life for family. They wanted and needed hope. What did they find when they landed? Mistrust, corruption and misunderstandings.

Birds of Passage is an incredible story of immigrating to the US from Italy during a particularly rough time in New York history. The book is honest, well written and you can feel the pain and struggle these immigrants went through. The lack of jobs, of respect and just trying to make it in a culture so different from their own. The blending of cultures is a constant struggle as individuals try to escape their past only to have it resurface in the ‘new world’. A lot of this can still be seen today as immigrants leave their country for a new life.

I loved how Joe includes the corruption of certain politicians, Mafia and family members to illustrate exactly how people lived during these times. This novel is a story that you will not want to put down because of all the raw emotions, corruption and pain. It was definitely well-loved in my home!

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Joe 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.

Q&A with Joe Giordano

Q: When you were writing the book, did you have a possible film version in mind? If so, did you write in a way that lends itself to film adaptation? For example, lots of dialogue and present day action, not so much description and back story.

A: I’m sure every writer hopes their book will be adapted for the screen. My goal in writing Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story, was to create vibrant characters and put them into challenging situations. That’s the touchstone of any good movie. I often visualize my scenes and rehearse the dialogue, a sort of mental storyboard, to insure believability of my writing.

Q: What do you think of the way Italian Americans have been portrayed in Hollywood films over the years?

A: Early Italian immigrants faced prejudice. For example, Jacob Riis in How the Other Half Lives, an 1890 exposé on the deplorable conditions of tenement life, labeled Italians as the lowest of the new immigrants and “dirtier than the Negro.” Italian immigrant labors were given the worst jobs, and although they were instrumental in building New York’s subways and skyscrapers, were often used like human steam shovels. In Birds of Passage, I use small asides by Americans to recall these biases against Italian immigrants.

Early Hollywood films portrayed Italians as swarthy gangsters, cheap peddlers, or in a ridiculous comic role. A number of Italian-American organizations pushed back. Ironically, the turning point may have been “The Godfather.” Here, the gangsters were portrayed as wise, clever, resourceful, loyal, and largely in control of their destinies. More recently in, “The Sopranos,” Tony suffers a dysfunctional family, struggles to maintain his position as capo of a gang against internal and external rivals, and seeks psychological counselling. Notwithstanding that he occasionally kills someone, he lives a life of quiet desperation, like the rest of us. In Birds of Passage, my protagonist, Leonardo Robustelli, starts out as a somewhat naïve young man, quick to anger, and then learns that to avoid being buffeted in the world and take control of his own destiny, he must take certain decisions. Of course, there are consequences, but you’ll need to read the book to find out more.

Q: Italy, of course has a vibrant and very important film industry. Have Italian filmmakers paid much attention to Italian Americans? This may be a tough one to answer.

A: I can’t recall Italian filmmakers portraying many Italian Americans. In fact, I suspect that most Italians consider Italian Americans just Americans. Our cultures are quite distinct. I’m old enough to have known people born in the nineteenth-century. One of the reasons I wrote Birds of Passage was to recall how early Italian immigrants thought and acted, which is quite distinct from many Americans of Italian heritage today.

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Threading the Needle by Gabriel Valjan

Italy Book Tours

Book Three in the Roma series, finds us back in Italy in Threading the Needle.

Threading the Needle Book Review

About Threading the Needle

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 student 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.”

My Thoughts

It is hard to believe but book three in this series is even more incredible than the first two!

Threading the Needle is all about building trust. Bianca has to break with her personality traits and trust her friends in order to solve this new case. Each character plays a strong role in solving this intense plot that starts with the murder of Charlie Brooks. Threading the Needle is intense, action packed and full of suspense. It constantly left me on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out the next step only to be fully surprised! Even more so, with real world events mixed in I found myself looking up the events to understand the  novel even more so. It opened up a whole new world for me that I was not even aware had happened. I love novels that make you think like this and expand your knowledge.

Threading the Needle is the perfect third novel in this series that you will not want to put down! It has everything you need and more with no disappointments.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Gabriel 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.

The Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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