Book review: The Mystery of the Missing Mask (a Maple Harbour Adventure) by M.A. Wilson

  • Title and author:  The Mystery of the Missing Mask by M.A. Wilson
  • Publisher:  Rainy Bay Press
  • Date of publication:  November 16, 2017
  • Pages:  158
  • Genre:  children’s fiction / action & adventure

DESCRIPTION:

Ryan and Kendra have returned to Maple Harbour on the British Columbia coast to visit their cousins Claire and Nathan. But the sleepy little town has been rocked by the news that a valuable Indigenous mask has been stolen, only days after it arrived at the local museum! While museum officials and the police search for answers, the four children and their new friend Tyler stumble upon a series of exciting clues. As they enjoy their summer holidays, not everything is what it seems. Join the four friends on another unforgettable summer of adventure!

Buy the book:   Amazon    Indigo-Chapters

Meet the author:  Michael Wilson lives with his family in Gibsons, British Columbia. The Mystery of the Missing Mask is his second book for children. His first book, Adventure on Whalebone Island, was shortlisted for the BC Reader’s Choice Children’s Book Award and the Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award. When not writing, he likes to sail his Flying Junior in the waters of Howe Sound.

Connect with the author:   Website   

REVIEW:  

I had so much fun reading about Ryan and Kendra’s adventure on Whalebone Island that I decided to follow them on their next trip back to the BC coast the following year.

What I love about this series is that the stories are good, clean reads with a lot of excitement thrown in.  The children portrayed in this series are polite, hardworking and curious.  In this book, one of the characters is confronted with a moral issue about returning stolen property even though the owner treated her badly.   The young reader will also learn a bit about geography, marine biology, history, anthropology, sailing and learning to work together with others on projects.

Aunt Jennie is a great cook, just reading about what she cooks for the family every day makes me want to hang out with them!

A great vacation read that every kid should have tucked into their backpack!

Book review: Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce

  • Title and author:  Dear Mrs. Bird by A. J. Pearce
  • Publisher:  Scribner
  • Date of publication:  July 3, 2018
  • Pages:  288
  • Genre:  historical fiction

DESCRIPTION:

A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Buy the book:    Amazon    Indigo/Chapters   Barnes & Noble

MEET THE AUTHOR:   AJ Pearce grew up in Hampshire and studied at the University of Sussex. A chance discovery of a 1939 women’s magazine became the inspiration for her ever-growing collection and her first novel Dear Mrs Bird. She now lives and writes in the south of England.

Connect with the author:   Facebook    Twitter    Website    Goodreads

 

REVIEW:

A delightful and witty piece of historical fiction which will have you both laughing and crying. Emmy is an aspiring girl war correspondent who leaves her job as a secretary at a law firm to work for a newspaper. Her dreams are dashed when she discovers that she is merely a typist for Mrs. Bird, an overbearing and imperious ladies columnist writer who brooks no “unpleasantness” in her column. As Emmy reads the letters sent into the paper, she feels impelled to respond to these heartfelt requests. But she hadn’t counted on the consequences her actions would eventually bring. Funny, poignant and touching, this novel will soon become one of your favourites.

If you enjoyed reading “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” then you will fall in love with “Dear Mrs. Bird”. I would love to see a sequel to this story.

 

 

 

Book review: Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary by Gabriella Contestabile

Book Details:

Book Title:  Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary by Gabriella Contestabile
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction,  201  pages
Genre: Travel / Arts / Fashion / Self-help
Publisher:  Sumisura Publications
Release date:  November 2017
Format available for review: print & ebook (PDF)
Will send print books out: internationally
Tour dates: April 23 to May 11, 2018
Content Rating: G (No violence. No swear words. No sex scenes.)

Book Description:

Ah, that inimitable Italian style. It’s embedded in an Italian woman’s DNA. Fashion doesn’t define her. She defines herself. She knows an extraordinary life is not about status, money, or achievement. The only mastery it requires is one her heritage has given her, the irrepressible passion to make art of life itself.

Ask an Italian woman where she gets her sense of style and she will tell you it’s not about labels. It’s tethered to humble roots; humanity, community, conscious consumerism, and a profound appreciation for art in all its forms.

Sass, Smarts and Stilettos takes the reader on a journey from the humble hill towns of Abruzzo to the revered fashion capitals of Milan and Rome, into the artisan workshops of Florence, and the humanistic business practices of Luisa Spagnoli, Brunello Cuccinelli, and Alberta Ferretti, from the emergence of Italy’s fashion industry after WWII, to slow food and sustainable fashion initiatives taking root around the world.

Life lessons echo in the words of the author’s mother and grandmother, in the voices of Italian film divas, designers, tastemakers, writers, and artisans across generations, from the first Sala Bianca in Florence to the game changing design ethic of Franca Sozzani, Miuccia Prada, and Donatella Versace.

Learn how to live fully within your own philosophy of living. Say good-bye to mindless consumerism, emotional clutter, and others’ expectations. Create a personal style that fits like a custom blazer by Ferrè and enchants like the colors of a Sicilian sunset. Then go on to craft an extraordinary and empowering life made-to-measure for you alone.

Gabriella Contestabile

Meet the Author:

Gabriella Contestabile is the author of the novel, The Artisan’s Star, and owner of Su Misura (Made to Measure) Journeys; a boutique travel concept for the female traveler who relishes off-the-beaten-track adventures that celebrate the Italian way of life.

​The book/travel initiative has its roots in her pre-writer life as a foreign language teacher, later as Executive Director and Vice President of International Training in a number of global companies (including Estee Lauder, Shiseido, and Prada Beauty) where she would create immersive and unconventional learning experiences in unique settings around the world.

One of her favorite pastimes, wherever she is in the world, is to scout out the best, and most ‘Italian’ espresso in the hood. It requires multiple tastings, but that’s the idea. Gabriella was born in Italy, and raised in Ottawa and New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, her mother, and a furry Shih Tzu named Oreo.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ LinkedIn

REVIEW:
This little book is a delightful combination of memoir, fashion history and practical advice about how to live your life to the fullest and most stylish.  I loved every little chapter – each beginning with a catchy quote.  This book will gently motivate you to be a better you – happier and more fulfilled.
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Here are a few of the tidbits  from the book that I love: (both from the book and cited quotes)
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It’s not about the label.  It’s about the art.
Don’t over-purchase.  When you have less, what you own is precious.
Bad food is never an option.
Travel is the enemy of prejudice, bigotry and small mindedness.
Age is the prison women make for themselves.
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Fashion history has been a passion of mine for many years so I enjoyed the chapters outlining the history of Italian fashion.  I would google the different designers and pour over examples of the clothing they designed.
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All this good advice had me re-think the way I was living, from the food I eat to the clothes I wear.  Of course, I’m not Italian but I am willing to adapt my lifestyle to be more mindful of the way I live and dress. Everyone keeps telling me to get a Vespa … one day who knows?
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Book review: Adventure on Whalebone Island by M.A. Wilson

  • Title and author:  Adventure on Whalebone Island by M.A. Wilson
  • Publisher:  Rainy Bay Press; 1 edition
  • Date of publication:  November 2, 2016
  • Pages:  178
  • Genre:  children’s fiction / action & adventure

DESCRIPTION:

Ryan and Kendra have come to Maple Harbour on the BC coast to spend their summer holidays with their aunt and uncle. They’re expecting a leisurely holiday swimming and playing on the beach with their cousins Claire and Nathan. Claire, however, has other ideas – exploring islands in her sailboat and searching for sunken treasure. But what’s hidden on mysterious Whalebone Island? Have the four of them come across a secret that others don’t want discovered?

Children aged eight to twelve will love this classic tale of adventure that recalls an earlier era of outdoor fun, leisure, and independence. In today’s over-scheduled society, Adventure on Whalebone Island stands apart for its celebration of the childhood joys of exciting outdoor exploits away from technology and the watchful eyes of parents. Filled with striking illustrations, Adventure on Whalebone Island is already a favorite of children, parents, and teachers alike.

Shortlisted for the 2017/18 BC Readers Choice Children’s Book Award (Chocolate Lily Award)

Buy the book:   Amazon    Indigo-Chapters

Meet the author:  Michael Wilson lives with his family in Gibsons, British Columbia. The Mystery of the Missing Mask is his second book for children. His first book, Adventure on Whalebone Island, was shortlisted for the BC Reader’s Choice Children’s Book Award and the Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award. When not writing, he likes to sail his Flying Junior in the waters of Howe Sound.

Connect with the author:   Website   

REVIEW:  

Ryan and Kendra live in British Columbia, Canada and were super excited to spend two weeks with their cousins in Maple Harbour, on the BC coast.   Ryan, shy and studious wonders if he will fit in with his outgoing, active cousins.  Little does he know that his love of math and numbers will take him on an exciting and dangerous adventure!

I really enjoyed the way the author wrote from the eyes of a young person.  I could clearly picture myself feeling the same emotions and observing the same things the children would enjoy.  His descriptions were simple but thorough and I felt as thought I had personally gone on an adventure with them!

Adventure on Whalebone Island reminds of my own childhood spent devouring Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery books.

It was a pleasure meeting Michael at the Chapters bookstore in downtown Victoria.  I would be interested in reading more of his adventure books in the future.

Book review: Florence & Leon by Simon Boulerice

  • Title & author:  Florence & Leon by Simon Boulerice
  • Publisher:  Quebec Amerique / Orca Book Publishers
  • Date published:  April 9, 2018
  • Pages:  32
  • Genre:  friendship, disability, shared experiences

DESCRIPTION:  Florence and Leon have never met. Florence is a swimming instructor. She has a small problem with her lungs: it’s as if she’s breathing through a straw. Leon is an insurance salesman. He has a small problem with his eyes: it’s as if he’s seeing the world through a straw. One day Florence and Leon bump into each other, literally, and this mishap turns their lives upside down. Over slushy drinks with proper straws, Florence and Leon find out how their differences make them alike.

Buy the book:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Orca Canada

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Award-winning Québécois author Simon Boulerice writes principally for the theater but has also published novels for adults and children as well as poetry collections. Florence & Léon (QuébecAmérique) was nominated for the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Illustration (French). Simon still does the splits at least once a day.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:   Twitter    Facebook   

REVIEW: 

How long does it take to fall in love? 32 pages and a striped straw!

What a delightful and intimate story of two very different people who meet unexpectedly with a “bump”.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book was originally written in French and want to read it in that language as well.  The English translation was well done.

This would make a wonderful gift for a sweetheart.

 

 

 

 

Book review: The Myths of Safe Pesticides by André Leu

Book Details:

Book Title: The Myths of Safe Pesticides by André Leu
Category:  Adult Non Fiction,  168  pages
Genre:   Educational / Nature / Science
Publisher:  Acres USA
Release date:  September 15, 2014
Format available for review:  print & ebook (PDF)
Will send print books to: USA & Canada
Tour dates: March 12 to April 13, 2018
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

​The chemical-based conventional agriculture industry claims that the synthesized concoctions they sell as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are safe when used as directed, but does the scientific evidence truly support their assertions? Organic agriculturist and lecturer André Leu delves into a wealth of respected scientific journals to present the peer-reviewed evidence that proves the claims of chemical companies and pesticide regulators are not all they seem.

Leu translates technical jargon into layman’s terms to break down the five most repeated myths about pesticide use: independent scientific analysis shows that pesticides are not at all as safe as industry leaders and regulatory agencies claim. The pesticide industry argues that human agriculture, and thereby the global population itself, cannot survive without using pesticides and herbicides, but Leu warns that human health is at great risk unless we break free of their toxic hold and turn to more natural methods of pest and weed regulation.

Learn about:

  • The “Rigorously Tested” Myth
  • The “Very Small Amount” Myth
  • The “Breakdown” Myth
  • The “Reliable Regulatory Authority” Myth
  • The “Pesticides Are Essential to Farming” Myth

Andre Leu

Meet the Author:

André Leu is a longtime organic farmer in Australia and a director of Regeneration International. He served as president of IFOAM Organics International from 2011 to 2017. He speaks widely and regularly testifies to governments and NGOs worldwide on pesticide safety and policy. He is the author of the award-winning book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides.

Connect with the publisher:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Author’s Twitter

REVIEW:
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Andre Leu’s extensive research led to this incredibly detailed book about  pesticides and how we can be better informed when making decisions about what we should eat and feed our families.
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Some of the things he expounds on are:
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– Myth:  Pesticides are essential to farming;
– Myth:  Most pesticide formulations sold on the market are rigorously tested;
– Myth:  The very small amount;
– Myth:  The breakdown myth; and
– Myth:  The reliable regulatory myth.
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One of the things I learned is that once a chemical degrades, it is not harmless.  Research has shown than many of the metabolites from agricultural poisons can cause heath and reproductive problems.  Some pesticides such as diazinon, malathion, chlorpyrifos and dimethoate become even more toxic when they break down.
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We often think that, when we wash our food we are removing all of the pesticides.  Dimethoate (widely used as a fruit fly treatment) is a systemic pesticide because it is absorbed into all the tissues of the plant, including the edible portions such as the flesh of the fruit.  Washing our food will not remove the bulk of the poison, which is inside the food.  It breaks down into an even more toxic metabolite called omethoate.
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Complete with charts, graphs and illustrations, this book makes this complicated subject more easily understood by the layman.  It’s quite a vigorous read but the book is divided into the five main “myth” sections which makes it easier to absorb.
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The author’s final word:
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The lack of rigorous testing and the blatant disregard of the current science by regulators means that, until these data gaps are filled, the most logical option is to avoid food from farming systems that use these toxic compounds.”
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Simply put, there are no safe pesticides in any amount.  You may want to read the author’s newest guide:  “Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides”.
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Book review: Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides by André Leu

Book Details:

Book Title:  Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides
Author: André Leu
Category:  Adult Non Fiction,  206 pages
Genre:   Educational / Parenting / Nature – Science
Publisher:  Acres USA
Release date:  March 1, 2018
Format available for review:  print & ebook (PDF)
Will send print books to: USA & Canada
Tour dates: March 12 to April 13, 2018
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Parenting was never easy. While loving, teaching and nourishing children, parents also seek to protect them from harm. The past few generations, however, have been silently attacked by thousands of manmade, poisonous chemicals carried into homes and children’s bodies in our food supply. The chemical-based conventional agriculture industry claims that the synthesized concoctions they sell as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are safe when used as directed, but does the scientific evidence truly support their assertions?

When pesticide residues are found in 77 percent of all foods in the United States, it’s important to know the truth. Organic agriculturist André Leu has weeded through a wealth of respected scientific journals to present peer-reviewed evidence proving that the claims of chemical companies and pesticide regulators are not all they seem.

Buy the Book:

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Acres USA
Add to Goodreads
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Watch André Leu discuss​ a better way to grow our food:

Andre Leu

Meet the Author:

André Leu is a longtime organic farmer in Australia and a director of Regeneration International. He served as president of IFOAM Organics International from 2011 to 2017. He speaks widely and regularly testifies to governments and NGOs worldwide on pesticide safety and policy. He is the author of the award-winning book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides.

Connect with the publisher:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Author’s Twitter

REVIEW:
.
Andre Leu’s extensive research led to this incredibly detailed book about  pesticides and how we can be better informed when making decisions about what we should eat and feed our families.
.
Some of the things he expounds on are:
.
– Myth:  Pesticides are essential to farming;
– Myth:  Most pesticide formulations sold on the market are rigorously tested;
– Myth:  The very small amount;
– Myth:  The breakdown myth; and
– Myth:  The reliable regulatory myth.
.
He also goes into detail about chemical cocktails in food and water.  What happens when chemicals/pesticides are mixed?  For example, estradiol combined with other chemicals is capable of  mimicking estrogen.  When this chemical is mixed with other chemicals, their potency is often doubled, which, in turn, can lead to breast cancer.
.
Rain samples tested in Europe contained such high levels of pesticides that it would be illegal to supply it as drinking water.
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Complete with charts, graphs and illustrations, this book makes this complicated subject more easily understood by the layman.  It’s quite a vigorous read but the book is divided into the five main “myth” sections which makes it easier to absorb.
.
The author’s final word:
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“Even if regulatory authorities started tomorrow, it wold take decades and billions of dollars in funds to test all the registered pesticide products and the thousands of common combinations to acquire the relevant missing data needed to establish the safe use of these poisons.
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Adopting farming systems that replace pesticides with nontoxic, natural methods of pest control is the most effective and logical way to avoid the current uncertainties surrounding pesticide use.”
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Simply put, there are no safe pesticides in any amount.
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Book review: Waking Isabella, because beauty can’t sleep forever by Melissa Muldoon

Book Details:

Book Title:  Waking Isabella: Because beauty can’t sleep forever by Melissa Muldoon
Category:  Adult Fiction,  250  pages
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher:  Matta Press
Release date:  December 2017
Format available for review: print & ebook (mobi, ePub, PDF)
Will send print books out: internationally
Tour dates: Feb 19 to March 23, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (The story begins with violent rape and murder scene, touches on themes of miscarriage, murder, Nazi violence during war, adultery)

Book Description:

Waking Isabella is a story about uncovering hidden beauty that, over time, has been lost, erased, or suppressed. It also weaves together several love stories as well as a few mysteries. Nora, an assistant researcher, is a catalyst for resolving the puzzle of a painting that has been missing for decades. Set in Arezzo, a small Tuscan town, the plot unfolds against the backdrop of the city’s antique trade and the fanfare and pageantry of its medieval jousting festival. While filming a documentary about Isabella de’ Medici—the Renaissance princess who was murdered by her husband—Nora begins to connect with the lives of two remarkable women from the past. Unraveling the stories of Isabella, the daughter of a fifteenth-century Tuscan duke, and Margherita, a young girl trying to survive the war in Nazi-occupied Italy, Nora begins to question the choices that have shaped her own life up to this point. As she does, hidden beauty is awakened deep inside of her, and she discovers the keys to her creativity and happiness. It is a story of love and deceit, forgeries and masterpieces—all held together by the allure and intrigue of a beautiful Tuscan ghost.

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Watch the trailer:
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Melissa Muldoon

 Meet the Author:

Melissa 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.

Waking Isabella is Melissa’s second novel and follows Dreaming Sophia, published in 2016. In this new novel about Italy, the reader is taken on another art history adventure, inspired by Melissa’s experiences living and traveling in Italy, specifically Arezzo, as well as her familiarity with the language and art. For more information about Waking Isabella and links to Melissa’s blogs and social media sites, visit www.MelissaMuldoon.com.

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.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Waking Isabella and Dreaming Sophia. She also curates the Dreaming Sophia blog and Pinterest site: The Art of Loving Italy. Please visit the Pinterest page for pictures of Arezzo, the Giostra del Saracino, and all the places we go in Italy in both books. Visit MelissaMuldoon.com for more information about immersion trips to learn the language with Melissa in Italy, as well as the Studentessa Matta blog for practice and tips to learn the Italian language.

Connect with Melissa:

Website ~ Twitter ~  Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Youtube

REVIEW: 

For  anyone who loves history, art and anything Italian, this is the perfect novel for you.  The story begins with Isabella de Medici, a 16th century Italian princess and her mysterious, and the circumstances surrounding her untimely death as well as the disappearance of  her most beloved painting.

Nora, a researcher and art lover is recuperating from a failed marriage.  She is at a point in her life where she must decide to take the safe route and remain a researcher or follow her dreams to return to Italy.  A chance Facebook message from an old friend ignites her passion for Italy once again and inspires her to investigate Isabella de Medici and her mysterious past.

The author’s historical research really makes this novel “come alive” as we are transported to different time periods and places in search of elusive clues to missing pieces of artwork.  The introduction of realistic characters and multiple storylines that ultimately lead back to the beginning of the story made for an interesting and enjoyable read.  Brush up on your Italian, there is plenty in this book!  Take care, you may end up enjoying a cappuccino yourself on sun drenched day somewhere in historic Italy.

GIVEAWAY:

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Book review: The Love Lottery (A Comic Tale of Lessons in Life, Love, Dating and the Odd Samosa Party) by Raj Dhawal


  • Title & author:  The Love Lottery (A Comic Tale of Lessons in Life, Love, Dating and the Odd Samosa Party) by Raj Dhawal
  • Publisher:  Clink Street Publishing
  • Date of publication:  February 20, 2018
  • Pages:
  • Genre:  adult fiction

Description:  

In our fast-paced digital age, never has finding the one felt more like playing the lottery.

If anyone knows about the cruelty and chaos of dating in the 21st century it’s Raj Dhaliwal; accountant by day, hopeless romantic by night.

By his own admission, Raj is a tax wizard but a clumsy disaster area when it comes to matters of the heart. This book charts his misadventures in the art of looking for love in an age when a man’s best intentions can be coldly dismissed by a swipe to the left.

The Love Lottery: a comic tale of lessons in life, love, dating and the odd samosa party explores the emotional rollercoaster of dating, charting the epic excitement and anticipation, highs, lows and disappointments of our ever optimistic search for romance.

As a British-born Indian gent, Raj compares and contrasts the social and cultural distinctions between his family, his friends and the women he meets on the dating scene; a route to romance that’s littered with speed dating, online dating and feverish matchmaking, in this funny and heart-warming book. As self-appointed United Nations Love Ambassador, Raj has made it his mission to date the weird and the wonderful in the pursuit of lasting love.

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Chapters/Indigo  

Meet the author:    

Living in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire Raj Dhaliwal works as an accountant for the car manufacturing company Land Rover.

 

 

REVIEW:

I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes, lookin’ for traces
Of what I’m dreamin’ of
Hoping to find a friend and a lover
I’ll bless the day I discover,
Another heart- lookin’ for love.

The song  “Looking For Love” sung by Johnny Lee kept coming to mind while I read this book.  Just where does one go to find true love?

As a visual artist, the cleverly designed book cover immediately caught my eye.  Having spent many years immersed in Indian culture, I was curious to read of the author’s experiences as he searches for his soul mate.  The impression I get after reading his many experiences is “yikes!”  It’s a battlefield out there!

This diminutive essay is liberally laced with the author’s self-deprecating humour and examples of some of his more awkward social encounters.

Do I have any suggestions for this long-suffering and tormented dude?  Get a dog.  Chicks love them. 😀

Book review: The Clock Flower (Book 3 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Clock Flower by Barbara Casey (Book 3 of The F.I.G. Mysteries)
Category:  YA Fiction,  208 pages
Genre:   Mystery / Fantasy
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications, The Hungry Goat Press Imprint
Release date:  February 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 (There is light profanity and some threat of violence.)

Book Description:

Dara Roux, abandoned when she was seven years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan. Accepted to Yale University.

Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan. Accepted to MIT.

Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was sixteen. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan. Accepted to Juilliard.

The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—as they are called, have graduated from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women after returning from New York City where Dara learned why her mother abandoned her all those years ago, and they are now attending universities where they can further their special talents. This means they will be separated from each other and from Carolina, their much-loved mentor and teacher who is “one of them,” for the first time in their young lives. They vow to try living apart for one semester, in the so-called real world that doesn’t include the orphanage; but if things don’t work out, they will come up with another plan—a plan where they can be together once again.

​Dara is invited through Yale University to take part in an exciting archeological project in China. Jennifer, once again visualizing black and white images and the unusual sounds of another cadence that seem to be connected to Mackenzie, is engrossed in creating her next symphony at Juilliard. Mackenzie, because of her genius at problem-solving, is personally chosen by a US Senator to get involved in a mysterious, secret research project involving immortality that is being conducted in a small village in China—not too far from where Dara is involved with the archeological site. Once there, however, she finds herself facing a terrifying death from the blood-dripping teeth of an ancient evil dragon. Her best friends, the FIGs and Carolina, rely on their own unique genius and special talents to save her as she discovers the truth of her birth parents.

The Cadence of Gypsies: Book 1 of the F.I.G. Mysteries

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Cadence of Gypsies (Book 1 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey
Category:  YA fiction,  272 pages
Genre:  Literary/Mystery
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications/Hungry Goat Press
Release date: April 2015 (e-Book)
Content Rating:  PG-13 (A few expletives, mild sexual innuendo)

​Book Description:

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

The Wish Rider: Book 2 of the F.I.G. Mysteries

​Book Details:

Book Title:  The Wish Rider (Book 2 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey
Category:  YA Fiction, 160 pages
Genre: Literary / Mystery
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications
Release date:  May 10, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Dara Roux and her two best friends, Mackenzie Yarborough and Jennifer Torres, the three collectively referred to as the F.I.G.’s (Females of Intellectual Genius) because each has an intelligence quotient in the genius range, have just returned from Frascati, Italy. It was there that their much loved teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, discovered that her birth parents were gypsies, and that she had a connection to the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world.

Now, with graduation from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women behind them, Dara asks her friends to help her locate her birth mother when she learns that she might be living in New York City. Relying on Dara’s gift for speaking and understanding foreign languages, the black and white images that stir musical cadences in Jennifer’s mind, and Mackenzie’s mathematical calculations that normally provide numerical solutions and answers to life’s most difficult questions, the determined young women tirelessly go from one address to another in search of Dara’s mother.

Their determination turns to desperation, however, as they encounter a dark hidden society more dangerous and terrifying than they could have imagined. It is there that Dara hopes to find out why she was abandoned in a candy store all those years ago.

​Buy The Clock Flower:
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Barbara Casey

Meet the Author:

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara is also a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.
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Connect with the author:  Website
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REVIEW:
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The Clock Flower is the third novel in the FIG series about three gifted young women and their mentor, Caroline.  If you have already read the other two books you will have already met each girl:  Dara – the linguist, Mackenzie the math whiz and problem solver and Jennifer – gifted in music and art.
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Because of their unusual gifts and personalities, the girls have bonded with each other and with Caroline, who treats them as younger sisters.  Their inability to interact with others places them at a disadvantage and Caroline acts to smooth the way for them.
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This novel focuses on Mackenzie, who is asked to help troubleshoot a missing ingredient in a very ancient formula in China.  Intuitively, the other two girls as well as Caroline seem to be drawn into her world through music, art and Carolina’s intuition as a gypsy’s daughter.  As with the previous two books, we can expect plenty of excitement and plot twists in this story.
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The author is able to develop fascinating plots and storylines which keep you hooked throughout the book.  However, I found that too much time was spent trying to make this book into a standalone, in fact almost 40% of the book was trying to recapture the storyline from the first two books.  There was a lot of repetition during the first part of the book and the storyline could have done with more character development.
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I always enjoy a good mystery and The Clock Flower keeps you on the edge of your seat.  I look forward to reading another FIG adventure!
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