Month: February 2020

The Borgia Confessions

The trials of Renaissance Italy play out through the eyes of one of Italy’s most powerful men – Cesare Borgia – as well as one of the least powerful – a simple maid. In The Borgia Confessions, author Alyssa Palombo brings a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.

About The Borgia Confessions

During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.

My Thoughts

Wow – this is an extremely powerful, captivating novel on an equally powerful family. The novel does great justice to this family that used anything within their power in their quest to rule and wealth.

The novel is told from two viewpoints, the wealthy eldest brother of the Borgia family, Cesare, and a maid, Maddalena.

Cesare never wanted a life dedicated to God, he wanted to be a military man. But as a Borgia, he has to do what his Father tells him to do. On the outside, he seems kind, thoughtful, caring and a wonderful man of God. On the inside lies something darker, as we get glimpses of this throughout the novel.

Maddalena is a typical woman of this time period – she was forced to marry a man much older than her at a young age. This marriage ended soon after when her husband died. She escapes her past by heading to Rome to work at the Vatican, instead wanting to devote her life to God. She is kind, religious, thoughtful but naive and trusting. She wants love but is afraid of it and her previous marriage has made it hard for her to understand what love is and should look like. Her beauty attracts Cesare and she begins a journey down a very dangerous road.

As we follow these two characters and how their relationship (one that can never truly be) develops, we are also exposed to the backdrop of war, betrayal, murder and more. Reading the novel, I found myself looking up the Borgia family to learn more about this family and time period. This is my favourite part of a good read, when it engages you and you want to learn more!

This is an excellent story from start to finish, I never quite knew what would happen next. I couldn’t put the novel down, I had to keep reading and learning more about this powerful and downright vicious family. I loved the characters and how she develops them. You feel as though you know Maddalena, you want to be her friend and give her guidance but your heart also breaks for her goodness and trusting nature. You may despise the Borgia’s but you just can’t stop reading, you want to know what they will do next. This is a definite must read novel!

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she is always at work on a new novel.

Continue Reading

All’s Well in Jingle Valley Spotlight Tour

iRead Book Tours

As autumn softens into winter at the beautiful Massachusetts farm, Julie resolves to do everything she can to ensure a happy ending for her clients. But despite her best efforts, will there be fewer weddings than planned at Jingle Valley this year? Or could there be more?

About All’s Well in Jingle Valley

It’s been three years since Julie Tate and her business partner Freddy saved the farm at Jingle Valley and set up their boutique wedding business. After much hard work, and some challenging clients, it finally looks like they’re well on their way to success. Newly single, Julie’s trying not to envy the happiness enjoyed by her wedding clients. But it’s difficult to keep her mind on the job when her days are filled with other people’s romances. And when a door she thought was closed appears to open again, her confusion deepens.

Second-chance couple April and Bill clearly adore each other, and they love the idea of getting married at Jingle Valley. But with each bringing complicated histories to their relationship, will their pasts interfere with them tying the knot?

As autumn softens into winter at the beautiful Massachusetts farm, Julie resolves to do everything she can to ensure a happy ending for her clients. But despite her best efforts, will there be fewer weddings than planned at Jingle Valley this year? Or could there be more?

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Martha Reynolds was raised in Rhode Island, spent a year of college in Switzerland, and is always planning a return visit. She completed an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and decided it was time to do something she really liked.

She now writes full-time and has set a personal goal of releasing a book a year until she dies. Her writing has appeared in Magnificat magazine and her very short poem was read by journalist Connie Schultz during NPR’s Tell Me More poetry challenge.

Her novel VILLA DEL SOL won the 2018 Book Award in Literary Fiction by the Independent Publishers of New England.

You can connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

The Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a spotlight tour, I did not receive compensation for this post.

Continue Reading

Shower Your Little One with the Love of Reading from Sourcebooks Kids this Valentine’s Day

I love how reading a good book helps to connect you with others, especially children. A book helps children understand the world around them, helps them verbalize and understand others and their feelings. Books help us put in to words how we are feeling and helps us to better express ourselves.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, what better way to talk about love with your child then with a fantastic, kid friendly book?

Every year we celebrate Valentine’s Day with a gift for each of our children. The following books would make an excellent gift or even a great read leading up to Valentine’s Day to help us talk about our feelings and what we mean to each other. Being a part of a family, we know we love each other but sometimes we also know that we can drive each other a bit bonkers. It is important for kids to know that they are loved for every part of their personality. Thinking a bit outside of the box, these would also make a great baby shower gift and guaranteed to make the parents to be want to cry!

Here are the top five Valentine’s Day children’s books that will show your little one just how much you care.

I Love You All Ways

From the author of Be Brave Little One and If I Could Keep You Little comes I Love You All Ways, an adorable exploration of how love surrounds us, no matter what we do or where we go. From morning to night — through the happy, playful, and mischievous moments — I Love You All Ways is a sweet celebration of the never-ending love for a child.

In case you ever wonder,
in the busy of our days,
exactly how you’re loved by me,
I think you’ll be amazed. “

This is a beautiful hard cover book that will make you want to cry. The simple sentences that were easy to read, leave a big impact on children. The words remind children that yes we love them when they are good but we also love them when they are loud, mischievous, sick and everything in between. It reminds our children that they will have our love with them wherever they go and whatever they do. The illustrations are done in soft colours that matches the tone of this book.

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

I Love You To The Moon and Back

Share your heart with the one you love most in the world and wrap them in the security of God’s protection with this newest picture book from renowned inspirational brand Precious Moments. Written in sweet, rhyming verse, this is the perfect book to share on Valentine’s Day or all year round!

I collect Precious Moments so I could not wait to open this book and it did not disappoint (the illustrations were brilliant!). This beautifully written book starts off with that special moment when we bring our child home and our hearts are bursting with love. It takes on a religious tone, as we talk about the gift from above in the form of His love and our friends and family. That these very important people will be there for us, supporting us and celebrating with us for the rest of our lives. It really helps to remind us of the importance of these relationships and the impact they have on our lives. I loved the ending – I found it was only when I became a Mom that I really understood all my parents did and felt for us.

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

Always More Love

Always More Love is a heartwarming story and fun experience for families to share together about how the love for those special ones in your life only grows more and more each day.

I love you so much, but there’s more in my heart.
How is that possible? Well, where do I start?

Now move in close and you will see
Just how much you mean to me.

This book was so much fun to read aloud – it is very interactive and you can act as silly as you want together. From tickles, to snuggles, to giggles – this book is perfect for young children as we talk about how our heart is so full of love but we can always love just a little bit more. The book is illustrated with bright, bold colours that your young child will appreciate.

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

I Love You Like No Otter

There’s no better way to say “I love you” than with a sweet and heartfelt animal pun! I Love You Like No Otter combines a warm message of love with beautifully illustrated animals, making it the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day and all year round!

This is an adorable and simple read for young children. Each page is a pun using favourite animal characters. The puns are quite funny, I have used a few to put as notes in a lunch pail and it gives us a good laugh at the end of the day. How can you not love animals and jokes?

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

Love: From Sesame Street

In this New York Times bestselling picture book, beloved Sesame characters share what love means to them. This warm and uplifting book will show children new ways to look for love in everyday life—and brighten their day!

“Love is a sunny day!
Love is being an everyday HERO.
Love comes in all shapes and sizes.
Love is cookies… and then more cookies!”

I love Sesame Street and the message that it sends to young children. This book has a powerful impact on young children as we explore the many sides of love and how it comes in all shapes and sizes. It can help children to discuss their feelings and how love makes them feel, and even the examples of love that they see every day. How do we show love to our friends? To our teachers? To our family? And even gives children a great way to describe these feelings. It helps to really open the door to the endless possible ways that we can describe love.

You can purchase a copy of this book here.

Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift? Make sure to add one or more of these great books above and get ready to start engaging your child in the wonderful topic of love and what it means to us.

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned books in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

An Everyday Hero Book Review

An emotionally layered novel about redemption, second chances and discovering that life is worth fighting for.

About An Everyday Hero

At thirty, Greer Hadley never expected to be forced home to Madison, Tennessee with her life and dreams of being a songwriter up in flames. To make matters worse, a series of bad decisions and even crappier luck lands her community service hours at a nonprofit organization that aids veterans and their families. Greer cannot fathom how she’s supposed to use music to help anyone deal with their trauma and loss when the one thing that brought her joy has failed her.

When Greer meets fifteen-year-old Ally Martinez, her plans to stay detached and do as little as possible get thrown away. New to town and dealing with the death of her father in action, she hides her emotions behind a mask of bitterness and sarcasm, but Greer is able to see past it and recognizes pieces of who she once was in Ally. The raw and obvious talent she possesses could take her to the top and Greer vows to make sure life’s negativities don’t derail Ally’s potential.

After Greer is assigned a veteran to help, she’s not surprised Emmett Lawson, the town’s golden boy, followed his family’s legacy. What leaves her shocked is the shell of a man who believes he doesn’t deserve anyone’s help. A breakthrough with Ally reminds Greer that no one is worth giving up on. So she shows up one day with his old guitar, and meets Emmett’s rage head on with her stubbornness. When a situation with Ally becomes dire, the two of them must become a team to save her―and along the way they might just save themselves too.

My Thoughts

I love the way Laura writes – she takes on a huge topic and approaches it with dignity, compassion, a touch of humour and hope. This book is just as fantastic as her last novel.

In this book we have two main characters who have both returned back to their hometown broken and scarred but for very different reasons. Greer did everything she could to make it work in the music industry and lost everything. She has even given up on her love of music and playing. She returns home to live with her parents for a fresh start scarred from this experience and with little hope of ever playing again. She has been left battered by the industry, a person who was supposed to love her and feeling as though she will never succeed as an adult and on her own. Emmett was sent home from the war after a surprise attack that left him physically injured and changed for life both physically and mentally. But it is the emotional and mental injuries that he hides that are far worse. He is angry at the world, and not the same person he was when he left.

The pair are forced together through an outreach program and their first encounter makes quite an impact! It left me laughing but the incident truly describes the pair. The two have many emotional and mental challenges to work on individually. Together they are the support that they didn’t know that they needed nor that they wanted. They are that kick in the butt, that breath of fresh air that encourages you to do better, to see the positive and to move forward with hope. I found at times, they were one step forward and two steps back and you were on the edge of your seat praying that they would make it through. The one piece that brings the story together and gives the hope and redemption that our two main characters need, comes in the most unusual but fitting way.

An Everyday Hero is a beautiful, well written novel from start to finish, you will not be able to stop reading it. It makes you laugh, cry and warms your heart. You fall in love with the characters and are left craving more. It is a definite must read.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Laura Trentham in an award winning romance author. The Military Wife is her debut women’s fiction novel. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

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

Continue Reading

Born Slippy

A provocative, globe-trotting, time-shifting novel about the seductions of — and resistance to — toxic masculinity.

Born Slippy

Frank Baltimore is a bit of a loser, struggling by as a carpenter and handyman in rural New England when he gets his big break, building a mansion in the executive suburbs of Hartford. One of his workers is a charismatic eighteen-year-old kid from Liverpool, Dmitry, in the US in the summer before university. Dmitry is a charming sociopath, who develops a fascination with his autodidactic philosopher boss, perhaps thinking that, if he could figure out what made Frank tick, he could be less of a pig. Dmitry heads to Asia and makes a neo-imperialist fortune, with a trail of corpses in his wake. When Dmitry’s office building in Taipei explodes in an enormous fireball, Frank heads to Asia, falls in love with Dmitry’s wife, and things go from bad to worse.

Combining the best elements of literary thriller, noir and political satire, Born Slippy is a darkly comic and honest meditation on modern life under global capitalism.

My Thoughts

Born Slippy is the type of novel that you cannot put down – it is full of anguish, heart break, selfishness, suspense and so much more.

First we have Frank, a man with a kind heart but someone that you just want to shake. He trusts those around him, most of the time a little too much. He is awful at standing up for himself, instead he always accepts less than what he truly deserves. At times, he appears envious of others and it makes you wonder if that is why he accepts bad relationships, bad friendships and allows others to use him. Dmitry is hard to put into words – he is manipulative, selfish and while appears to be charming, he is an awful person. He makes Frank believe he is his friend but you want to shake Frank for believing him.

The book starts off with an explosion a Dmitry’s office building where he is presumed dead and then we take a journey back in time to see how their relationship developed over the years and uncover quite a plot around money laundering and more. We see how Dmitry evolves from being a young man who wants to make millions to quite the con artist, with hisa many schemes over the years adding up. We watch as Frank unknowingly (or perhaps he knows but prefers to keep his blinders up) participates in these illegal acts. Frank seems to be constantly grasping for something that he cannot reach – whether it be love, work or respect. While my heart was sore for him at the end of the novel, he played a large part in his demise.

This is a well written novel, that starts off a bit on the slow side but builds an intricate plot that you will not want to stop reading. You find yourself shocked, angered, intrigued throughout the book – and constantly on the edge of your seat as you can never quite guess what Dmitry has up his sleeve or how low he may go. Born Slippy is a definite must read novel.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Tom Lutz is the author of, amongst others, And the Monkey Learned Nothing, Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World and Crying, which have been translated into a dozen languages, and several of which have been named New York Times Notable Books. His Doing Nothing won the American Book Award. He is the founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. This is his first novel.

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

Continue Reading