Monday, November 12, 2018

Into the Deep by Lauren Gaskill - #review


Develop enduring faith for the turbulent waters of life.

Following Jesus doesn’t guarantee sunny skies and smooth sailing. In fact, the waters of life are often tumultuous, crashing over us. Sometimes we can feel that we’re drowning in a sea of confusion, division, frustration, complacency, or disillusionment. We need more than a shallow faith to survive these deep waters.

Into the Deep is an invitation to dive headfirst into a life of courageous faith. With endearing warmth and authenticity, Lauren Gaskill shares how she and others have learned to swim with Jesus in the deep waters of life—facing challenges such as anxiety, depression, and chronic illness—only to discover a more authentic, enduring faith that cannot be shaken by circumstances. In addition to examining the character of God and the lives of women and men of the Bible who chose to dive deeper with God, she provides practical examples and tools that help us take our faith to the next level by learning to make decisions by faith alone, control our reactions to overwhelming situations, and live a life rooted in love.

Get ready to exchange fear and frustration for the boldness, courage, and holy confidence that lead to a life of deep faith and joy!


~~~oOo~~~

MY REVIEW

At my first swimming lesson as a child, I refused to put my head under the water ... or even my face in the water.  This unfortunate pattern of fearing to venture outside of my comfort boundaries has delayed many wonderful experiences from being part of my life.  Delayed?  Yes.  Stopped entirely?  Well ... not exactly!

My heart stopped following my body to church services when I was about twelve years old and just beginning to get 'too big for my britches', as the saying goes.  Of course, being berated in front of the Sunday School for not providing the expected response to a question, might have had something to do with my choice to distance myself from 'all things church'. 

So the deep end of pretty much anything, from a swimming pool, to my faith, has never been especially familiar to me.  And the unknown usually breeds fear.  (Just look at the news headlines these days.)  Luckily for me, when I needed help most, said help would 'magically' be there.  Like now.

I am so grateful for Lauren Gaskill's book "Into the Deep: Diving Into a Life of Courageous Faith".  Because lately, I've been feeling that my relationship with God is not what it should be.  To continue the swimming/pool analogy, I feel like I've been splashing around in the shallow end, looking at the deeper end, longing to be one of 'those' people who seem to be getting so much more out of the experience. 

By sharing her own experiences and providing examples from the Bible, Lauren shows that I am not alone (we are not alone) in our struggles.  That in itself would make Into the Deep a gift from God to us through the author.  Lauren helped me to see another way to strengthen my relationship with God.  This book has been a right message for this season of my life to do just that.  I can't tell you the number of times "Wow, I never thought of it that way," escaped my lips while I was reading this book.

Like some books, Into the Deep deserves more than a single read-through.  It's the type of book I like to work through or to 'digest' idea by idea or chapter by chapter, instead of all at once.  So, I read it through (for the review), and now I'm starting over again and really studying the message now.

I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to strengthen their spiritual relationships.

~~~oOo~~~

MEET THE AUTHOR



Lauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the Finding Joy podcast and Finding Joy Ladies Night Out events. After being diagnosed with an incurable connective tissue disorder, Lauren made it her life mission to encourage others to fight for faith and find joy — no matter what life’s circumstances might bring.

Gaskill is a storyteller who believes stories are powerful and loves how God uses them for His good. She writes and speaks to motivate and inspire others to experience abundant life in Christ. She is particularly passionate about encouraging women to fight for faith and go deeper in their relationship with Jesus. Gaskill also writes and speaks about what it looks like to walk with Jesus through pain and suffering.

She lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER

"Abingdon Press"


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Click on the banner above to go to the tour site for more information.  

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via "I Read With Amber" book tours in exchange for my honest review.)





Friday, November 9, 2018

#HoHoHoRAT Nov 9 - 18 @kimbacaffeinate


Get your sleigh bells on, y'all because it is time for the "Ho Ho Ho Readathon" hosted by Kimba at the Caffeinated Reviewer.  Click on the cute little picture above to go to the sign-up page and get all the details!  Dig out your winter/holiday themed books and/or ebooks or audiobooks, grab a nice cup of hot chocolate and get reading (at midnight on the 9th in your time zone)!  Santa hat optional. (Personally, I'm heading to the dollar store in the morning!)

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These are the books from which I will choose what to read.  Yeah, I'd love to be able to read all of them (that's one book a day).  Now I just have to decide if I am crazy enough to do it! *ho ho ho* Covers are linked to each book's GoodReads page.

Remember to click on the picture at the top of the cute little owl with the big eyes and Santa hat and join with other winter fan-atics as we read our way into the winter holidays!  And remember to share on social media with the hashtag #HoHoHoRAT!

~~~oOo~~~

So, are you already in the readathon?  What are some of the books you hope to read?  Feel free to leave all of that in a comment below, and/or tell me what is your favorite holiday?



Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Girl in the Empty Dress by Lise McClendon - #review


Merle Bennett is turning fifty, and her four sisters are helping her celebrate by going to France on a walking tour of the Dordogne. But one sister invites along a law colleague whose annoying ways upset what Merle had hoped would be just 'wine, women, and walking.' When Gillian Sargent, the sixth wheel, finds an injured dog beside the road the idyllic summer vacation takes a dark and dangerous turn. Why is the dog special? Who is after her? And what will they do to get the dog back?

Truffles, wine, romance, and intrigue in the heart of France.

All five Bennett sisters are lawyers. One is writing a blog about their trip, baring family details. As the intrigue heats up, one of Merle's boyfriends shows up from New York while her French boyfriend arrives unexpectedly. The delicate karma of sisterhood is rife with bickering, tears, and French law as the questions about Gillian Sargent pile up. Who exactly is she? What is she hiding? And where the hell has she gone with the dog?

Do you love women's suspense? Are you a not-so-secret lover of all things French? Come along on a trip to France with the Bennett sisters.

~~~oOo~~~

MY REVIEW

This is my first experience with a Lise McClendon book.  It will not be my last.  'Empty Dress' is the 2nd of seven "Bennett Sisters Mysteries".

I do not have any sisters, so missed out on that best friend girl talk, as well as the aggravation that goes along with having female siblings.  One of the sisters brings along a co-worker (Gillian) who seems to have little to no social life.  Understandably the other sisters are a little put out that a 'non-sister' has joined what is supposed to be their time to reconnect.  And Gillian?  She does nothing to change their opinion.  She is cold, standoffish and disapproves of most people and things, other than herself.

Merle has her vacation 'ami' (boyfriend) in this little village in France, at least when he's in town and not working.  But that's ok (?) because her on-again, off-again from New York shows up out of the blue.  (That bit of tension is delicious, btw.) And she's kept plenty busy after Mr. NY is arrested for assault on a local priest.  The only lawyer in town is the former mayor, whom Merle got dismissed in disgrace after a previous investigation.  So yeah, he's a lawyer, but does he have his client's best interests at heart?

And then there's the dog.  The sisters + 1 find an injured dog by the side of the road during a walk in the country.  Unbeknownst to them, it was stolen by force from an elderly couple.  It turns out the dog is a truffle snuffler and is quite valuable. 

I don't know what the French expression is for "15-bean soup", but there are a lot of threads and sub-plots running through the story.  But, like the soup, the story works, and quite well.  And I did love 'revisiting' France, the setting and general tone of the story seemed quite authentic.  (No, I haven't had the pleasure of actually visiting there myself, but I did take 7 years of French in school.)

I was a bit confused at the choice of title.  A little bit of an oblique reference, IMO, but hey, I read-vesting in the story, not just the title.

There are six more books in the Bennett Sister Mysteries, and I am looking forward delving into, well, all of them, eventually.  'Empty Dress' is an engaging read, almost like being on vacation oneself, especially if you're in the habit of having bad guys stalk you and try end your holiday suddenly, with extreme prejudice.  Nice bit of tension in the thriller aspects of the book.

These are definitely worth your investments of time and money.

~~~oOo~~~

MEET THE AUTHOR



Lise McClendon is a fiction writer living in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She has been a film reviewer, a film maker, a journalism professor, and a PR flack. Since her first novel, The Bluejay Shaman, in 1994, she has served on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers/North America, as well as on faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference where each year she critiques, speaks, and learns from writers new and old. 

(Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for free from Amazon, having been notified by one of the following:  BookBub, Robin's Reads, Freebooksy, eBooksoda, or other similar deal-finding services.  I was under no obligation to review, but that's kind of what I do, so here we are. :D)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Plot Your Health, a Journey to Wellness Planner by C.J. Ellisson - #review


Book Description:

Are you struggling to stay on top of multiple medications and supplements throughout your day? Or maybe your doctor has asked for daily details on your symptoms? Do you miss treatment appointments, or have problems juggling all the details? If you need space to log your steps, moods, hours of sleep, blood sugar levels, or even foods — we've got you covered!

Introducing a one-year wellness planner for managing severe and chronic health concerns! Terrific for parents managing a child’s complex care, teenagers or adults who need to organize their health concerns, or for caregivers and adults managing the care of senior patients.
220 pages in length, with a repeat of multiple tracking pages for twelve months.

Notebook Contents:

-        Owner’s Info page with room for doctor info, personal data, emergency contacts, allergies and more!
-        Two pages for Condition Details, room to list six per page.
-        Four pages of Medicine and Supplement Records, six per page.
-        Four pages for tracking test results, scans, and blood work throughout the year.

Twelve monthly sections, each with the following:
  • Undated monthly calendar pages, for jotting down doctor appointments, wellness visits, physical therapy, IV infusions, or whatever you need.
  • Two Doctor/ Wellness visit pages, for questions to ask at each appointment, room for notes, and an area to jot down tests needed.
  • Treatment Record pages, with room to track nine treatments per month, plus an extra lined page for notes or more appointments.
  • A two-page Symptom trackers, each with room to track twenty symptoms for an entire month.
  • Three-pages per month of Medicine and Supplement tracking grids. Each contains room to track four meds that need to be taken three times a day, and room to track twenty-one meds required twice a day. (This area can be customized for more meds if they are taken only once per day).
  • Mood-tracking coloring image. Assign a color to a mood and color each section per day according to how you feel.
  • Additional two-page grid for tracking sleep, food, blood pressure, habits, blood sugar, oxygen levels... pretty much anything you need! Eighteen spaces to track for each month.
  • Two lined pages per month for additional needs.
  • Future planning area on the last page for appointments and scheduling for the next year.

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MY REVIEW

(Apparently I am not the only one in my family with health problems.  A couple of days ago, my power supply blew up.  The new one came today (my birthday, btw), which lead us to find out that it took out the motherboard as well.  Oy!  Luckily my daughter recently got a new laptop and I am working for the time being off her old one.)


Why do I tell you all of the above?  Because, while this is not the review I had planned to write, I just HAD to tell you all about C.J. Ellisson's new workbook: "Plot Your Health: a Journey to Wellness Planner".  Anybody who personally deals with multiple and/or chronic health conditions, as well as anyone with friends, family or acquaintainces experiencing the same.

For myself, I have experienced depression for years and years.  For the time being, that is likely to continue.  In each of my 3 pregnancies I experienced gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension.  The high blood pressure has continued since that time.  The diabetes seems to be reminding me these days that it is still there.  Most recently, I have begun to forget the name for common objects while I am talking, although I can usually explain what it looks like or does, so the meaning gets across; and over the last 6 months or so, I have developed arm tremors which have increased in frequency and intensity.

So you can see how the Plot Your Health Planner is something about which I could say, "Where have you been all my life?"  Even with the forgetfulness, I have been able to keep better track of appointments with various doctors, and whether or not I have taken my medications at the right times, etc.  I have been able to feel a measure of control over my health conditions, and that gives me hope ... which is a powerful medicine in itself.

I consider the Plot Your Health: a Journey to Wellness Planner an indispensible addition to any family's medical records.

~~~oOo~~~
MEET THE AUTHOR


C.J. Ellisson is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, who writes adult urban fantasy, mystery, and romance. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two teenagers, three dogs, and two cats--reporting to love the energetic zoo that's become their home. 

When forced to give up a career due to her decreasing health, C.J. turned to writing in 2009 and claims the escape helped save her sanity. She battled severe chronic illness for years and has finally reached the end of her long-term treatment.

Instead of dozens of pills, IVs, exhaustion, and pain, C.J.'s days are now filled with writing, exercising, eating healthy, and running a novel-writing club at her daughter's school. It all leads to a fun-filled, busy day, and she's incredibly grateful to be so involved in life again.

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Click on the banner above to go to the tour site, where you will find links to more reviews of this title.

(Disclosure:  I received a  3-month trial planner from the author, via Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)

Note:  As you can see from the tour banner, this tour actually concluded yesterday.  This post was supposed to be up Monday, but my own computer had other plans.  I regret this delay and any problems it has caused for the author or tour planner, although  the tone of my review was not affected.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday Bookish Linkups & #Frightfall Readathon


Time to get your scary story jammies on, readers!  The #FrightFall Read-a-thon for October 2018 is on!  Click the banner above to go to the sign-up page and Seasons of Reading.

The only "rule" I could see was that you should read at least one scary book (thriller, mystery, Gothic, etc.)!

There are all sorts of fun things planned, so be sure to check out on the host blog!

Possible reads for me include:
No Way Out and Other Scary Short Stories by MJ Ware
The Happy Hollisters and the Scarecrow Mystery by Jerry West
The Scarecrow: Solom #1 by Scott Nicholson
The Mountain King: Resurrected Horrors #1 by George Ernsberger

....and there are, oh, about 21 more books on my Kindle list that have 'horror' in the title.  That's "horror-ble" (cue the groans).

Anyhow, if you love fall, Halloween, etc, I hope you'll join the folks at Seasons of Reading (and me)! Happy Hauntings, y'all!

Also sharing with:


     
   


Thanks to Stephanie of Tynga's Reviews, Kathryn at Book Date, Ramona at Create With Joy
and Janice at Mostly Blogging for hosting these respective link-ups!  
(Click on the buttons to go to the respective blogs.)

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Scent of Waikiki by Terry Ambrose - #review #giveaway


Honolulu landlord Wilson McKenna can smell a scam from across the room. So when one of his tenants loses everything in a work-at-home scam involving a new perfume, he’s shocked. With his wedding just weeks away, McKenna has to make a tough decision. Does he evict a woman who’s down on her luck? Or take time out from wedding planning to help his tenant?

Friday, July 6, 2018

Murder in the Cards by Paige Sleuth - #review #giveaway


Tiffany Swanson is finally living the dream when she quits her stressful job to become a poker pro. Except her dream job doesn’t turn out to be so perfect when she picks up the troubling vision of a murdered man from one of her opponents. Even more disturbing, Tiffany didn’t know she was telepathic.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Poison by Punctuation by Kelly Kaye - #review #giveaway


High school teacher Emma Lovett is finally recovering from her first year of teaching when she discovers another dead body. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this time, someone has killed a student, Kisten Hollis.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Murder Gone Missing by Lisa Sideris - #review


Newly minted lawyer Corrie Locke has taken a vow of abstinence. From PI work, that is. Until her best friend Michael finds his bully of a boss stabbed in the back after confronting him earlier that day. Michael panics, accidentally tampering with the crime scene…which could lead the cops to Michael instead of the real culprit. He turns to Corrie to track down the killer. She doesn’t need much coaxing. Her late great PI dad taught her the ropes…and left her his cache of illegal weaponry.

They return to the scene of the crime, but the body’s missing. Racing against time, Corrie dredges a prestigious Los Angeles college in pursuit of clues. All she finds are false leads. Armed with attitude and romantic feelings toward Michael, Corrie dives into a school of suspects to find the slippery fugitive. Will she clear Michael’s name before he’s arrested for murder?


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MY REVIEW

What do new lawyers, missing bodies and a pig pen in a pet sanctuary have in common?  Corrie's latest PI case in "Murder Gone Missing" by Lisa Sideris - that's what!

I think investigation must be like catnip for cozy heroines.  Corrie even became a lawyer to make a change, but can't resist being drawn back into the whodunit fold.  Of course, her friend Michael's unwitting visit to the crime scene, possible motive for killing the victim (his boss) and leaving evidence that points to him being the culprit could have something to do with Corrie's decision.

And finally, someone whose life is more crazy than mine! *LOL*

The craziness in "Missing" reminds me somewhat of the style of frenetic energy in Frank Capra's "Arsenic and Old Lace", which I also adored.  The exposition, action and dialog are witty - I do so love authors who like to play with their words!

I don't want to go into too much detail about the story, because that would deny you the fun of discovering 'whodunit' for yourself in this absolutely delightful book and series!

~~~oOo~~~

MEET THE AUTHOR



Lida Sideris is an author, lawyer and all around book enthusiast. She was one of two national recipients of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America scholarship for her first novel, MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERSMURDER GONE MISSING is the second book in the Corrie Locke series. Like her heroine, Lida worked as an entertainment attorney in a movie studio. Unlike her heroine, she keeps her distance from homicides. To learn more about Lida, please visit her website: www.LidaSideris.com.

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Click on the banner above to go to the tour page, where you will find links to more reviews of this title, and also some guest posts, author interviews, and GIVEAWAYS!  You can also find out how to BECOME A BLOG HOST FOR FUTURE BOOK TOURS while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)


The Spook in the Stacks - by Eva Gates - #review #giveaway


Halloween in North Carolina’s Outer Banks becomes seriously tricky when librarian Lucy Richardson stumbles across something extra unusual in the rare books section: a dead body.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle - #review #giveaway


A new smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hot spot, until one dark night, when a gunshot leaves a dead body behind and the landmark coffeehouse becomes the center of a whole new scene–a crime scene.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Nun After the Other by Alice Loweecy - #review #giveaway


Nuns and murder and ghosts, oh my! Here comes Giulia Driscoll again, and boy, is she in for it this time.

It starts when a frenzied Chihuahua leads Giulia and Frank Driscoll to the body of a nun in the street near a convent. The nuns fear they’re being harassed by the biggest developer in town and quickly embrace Giulia as their savior.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Farewell, My Cuckoo by Marty Wingate - #review


Julia Lanchester must defend her love nest from an invasive species: her boyfriend’s sister. And then there’s the little matter of murder . . .

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Courage Between Love and Death by Joseph Pillitteri - #review


Elspeth has recently landed a nursing position at the 1901 Pan American Exposition Hospital in Buffalo, New York. This is a big boon for her, but things are not going as expected. She has to navigate mischievous patients, egotistical doctors, rival nurses and prejudices. For an Irish girl with a temper, this is no easy feat. Now President McKinley is coming to visit the Expo and everyone is in an uproar. On the home front, her life is no less hectic as she struggles to put food on the table and look out for her younger siblings.

When the unthinkable happens, it is a turning point, not only for the medical industry and our country’s security, but also for Elspeth personally. With her career and reputation on the line, will she have the courage to overcome the challenges she faces to clear her name and continue to be there for the ones she loves?


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MY REVIEW

And I thought some of my work days were rough?  I've got nothing on Elspeth, who has a really long last name!  Not only does she have to contend with prejudice against women in general (they didn't even have the vote at this point), she also faced the prejudice against Irish immigrants and that of the educated male doctors for the less well-trained nurses.  And that's all before President McKinley is brought into the hospital after being shot at the 1901 Pan American Exposition.

I was spell-bound by Mr. Pillitteri's descriptions of Elspeth's encounters with Gunner, a new intern at her hospital.  Ah, the first blush of young love - the nervousness, the butterflies and blushes; I was smiling the whole time.  It takes strength and courage to be in love.

In places where the author wrote about Elspeth's interaction with Dr. Kingdom.  When the 'haves' (of any sort) belittle the "have nots", it gets my back up, and the little hairs on the back of my neck were fair bristling just about every time Kingdom appeared on the page!  It takes strength and courage to stand up in the face of discrimination.

Reading about the aftermath of McKinley's assassination brought back memories of John Hinckley, Jr.s attempt on the life of then President Reagan in 1981.  Even though most often political rivals squabble like a pack of rabid dogs, even that seems to lessen momentarily as the country 'closes ranks' as it were after the assassination (or an attempt) of a President.  There is a rumor that as he was wheeled into the OR, Reagan looked at the surgeon and jokingly said, "I hope you're Republican", to which the surgeoun replied, "Today, Mr. President, I think we're all Republican."

Of course, in McKinley's time there were nowhere near the medical or security resources available today.  So would he have died from his injuries regardless?  Or was the operation bungled?  Citizens want someone to blame when something like that occurs and it's usually the weakest link that gets the blame.

I spent most of my time reading Courage Between Love and Death on the edge of my chair.  Even thinking about it now raises my heart rate a couple of beats.

I've said more than once that I really enjoy historical fiction based on historical fact (such as McKinley's assassination), or a person of historical interest (past Presidents, for example).  The facts are fleshed out (even though fictionally) and it makes the events more real to someone only able to read about them more than century later.  I definitely want to learn more about the author's other literary adventures!

~~~oOo~~~

MEET THE AUTHOR

While working at Roswell Park Memorial Hospital in Buffalo, NY, Joseph Pillitteri became intrigued by the role Dr. Park played in the surgery of President McKinley at the 1901 Pan American Exposition. It was a pleasure to shape facts and fiction together to tell the story.

Previous works by Pillitteri include When the Giraffe Runs Down (Dial Press), Two Hours on Sunday (Dial Press), The Abortion (Penguin Books), and Life Pulse (Penguin Books).

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GIVEAWAY!!!


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Click on the banner above to go to the tour site, where you will find links to more reviews of this title.  You can also find out how to BECOME A BLOG HOST FOR FUTURE BOOK TOURS while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)

Italian Chronicles 3: Return to Bella Terra by Maryann Diorio - #review #giveaway


A mother, her son, and the man who threatens to come between them . . .

When Maria Landro Tonetta receives word that Mama is terminally ill, Maria travels to her Sicilian homeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream. But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Killer Tied by Lesley A. Diehl - #review



Eve Appel Egret is adjusting to married life with Sammy and their three adopted sons in Sabal Bay, Florida. While still running her consignment stores, she is going pro with her sleuthing by becoming an apprentice to a private detective.

Until her marriage, Eve’s only “family” was her grandmother Grandy, who raised her after her parents died in a boating accident. Now, in addition to her husband and sons, she has a father-in-law who clearly dislikes her. Sammy’s father, a full-blooded Miccosukee Indian long presumed dead, has emerged from the swamps where he’s been living like a hermit, and he isn’t happy about Eve’s marriage to his half-Miccosukee, half-white son.

The Italilan Chronicles 2: A Sicilian Farewell by MaryAnn Diorio - #review #giveaway


A young man, a new land, and a dream that threatens to destroy him and his family . . .

The dream of a better life for himself and his family drives Luca Tonetta to the American Promised Land with his wife of five years, Maria Landro Tonetto, and their three children. But the new Promised Land is nothing like what Luca had imagined. Forced to live in a roach-infested tenement house in the seedy section of Brooklyn, he faces the hardships, prejudice, and slanderous assaults of an Italian immigrant torn between two worlds. When Luca is accused of a crime he did not commit, he learns that a dream must first die before it can live.

“Such lovely writing–and an even lovelier story! Author MaryAnn Diorio takes her readers on a courageous journey, from the ancient romance of the Old Country to the perils and possibilities of the New Country. Well developed characters and a story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished this enjoyable read.” – Kathi Macias, Award-Winning Author




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MY REVIEW

There's a lot about Luca (the tailor from book 1 and now Maria's husband) in book two of the Italian Chronicles, A Sicilian Farewell.  I found it interesting to compare and contrast this character with that of Don Franco.

Luca is a Sicilian tailor, who hires Maria despite the rumors of her being a 'fallen woman'.  His shop has been busy due to many of the townsmen emigrating to America in search of a better life and higher wages for their families.  The instability of the Sicilian economy was doubled down by a drought, which wreaked havoc on Bella Terra, Maria's family's home.  In order to provide for his wife and children, Luca considered emigrating as well.  What tipped the scales was his feeling that God had called him to spread the Gospel in America.  Maria's son, Nico, calls him 'papa'.  Luca lives his faith.

Don Franco is a Sicilian priest, and biological father of Nico, begotten after he raped Maria when she was cleaning his house one day.  He threatened Maria and her family's safety after the rape, and then six years later, threatened Maria and his own son Nico's safety if Maria told anyone about his crime.  And he tells other people how to live their lives (and judges them accordingly), will barely acknowledging his own sin.  He is a hypocrite and a coward, leaving Maria to bear the shame of having an illegitimate child alone.

So the growing Tonetta family leaves Sicily for America, where they are hoping the streets are paved with gold.  Well, some street somewhere might be paved with gold, but none of the streets around the Tonetta's infested tenement apartment are like that.  None of the streets where Italian or Irish, or Chinese (insert any location from where immigrants who may look, sound or worship differently have come) are all that shiny either.  He is also accused and jailed for a crime he did not commit.

Thoughts about religion, a faith-filled life, crimes against women and discrimination filled my thoughts as I read this book.  Some of the conditions existing back in Maria and Luca's time (good or bad) are still in effect today.  (Can I get a "#MeToo" or "border wall" from the congregation?)  Ugh.  Apparently we have not yet learned our lessons.

I gained a lot of respect for Maria in Madonna, and then likewise for Luca in Farewell.  They live their lives with authenticity, much more so (IMO) than Don Franco - who was not really repentant of his sin (crime), or the bigoted people with whom they dealt in this 'promised land'.

Diorio has drawn her readers into the story, and it was easy for me to visualize the action and settings.  And I paused for to think about the world (the one we live in) outside the story as well  These are two things that really put my reading experience over the top - and A Sician Farewell has them both!  (I can't wait to start on book 3, Return to Bella Terra!)

~~~oOo~~~


(my review of this book can be found here)

A young woman, a priest, and a secret that keeps them bitterly bound to each other…

A horrifying encounter drags soon-to-be-married Maria Landro into the shocking world of religious corruption and an unrelenting village code of honor that threatens to rob her of everything she holds dear. Shunned by the very people who should have embraced her, she withdraws into the confines of Bella Terra, her family’s farm, and remains there for several years…until she is forced to leave to ensure the formal education of her son. In a desperate attempt to protect her child from vicious tongues and malicious hate-mongers and her family farm from bankruptcy, she determines to seek vengeance against the one who ruined her life. But when Luca Tonetta enters her life, she learns a powerful lesson about forgiveness and grace.

“Beautifully written historical novel. Excellent characters, dramatic plot. Beautifully written, giving wonderful feeling for the setting in place and time. Emotionally intense situations, satisfying resolution. Among the two or three best novels I have read this year. Highly recommended.” – Dr. Donn Taylor, Author & Former University Professor of Literature




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(will be reviewed here next Wednesday - April 4th)

A mother, her son, and the man who threatens to come between them . . .

When Maria Landro Tonetta receives word that Mama is terminally ill, Maria travels to her Sicilian homeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream. But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul?

“Each book in the Italian Chronicles series made me want to read the next one. Now I would like to see another spin-off series dealing with the next generation. The characters in MaryAnn Diorio’s book feel so real. They have flaws. They seek better relationships. They suffer and they rejoice. Just like us. There are people in their lives who help strengthen their faith, and there are those who undermine their faith. In this third book, Maria has to face letting go of many things, and only through seeking God first can she do that. Along with messages of faith and family, Return to Bella Terra takes you to Italy, and the vicarious experience is wonderful. Diorio sprinkles just enough Italian words (in italic) throughout the text to give you the sense of being there. You can smell the food, hear the music, and see the beautiful countryside. I highly recommend this series and any other books written by MaryAnn Diorio.” – Claudia Cuddy, Former Professor of Communications


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MEET THE AUTHOR


Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her books for both adults and children consistently receive excellent reviews for their content and their style. MaryAnn holds the PhD in French with a concentration in Comparative Literature from the University of Kansas. She resides in New Jersey with her husband Dominic, a retired physician. They are the blessed parents of two awesome daughters, a wonderful son-in-law, and five rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn loves to read, to paint, and to make up silly songs for her grandchildren.

For more information, please visit MaryAnn Diorio’s website and blog. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

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GIVEAWAY!!!


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Click on the banner above to go to the tour site, where you will find links to more reviews of the books in The Italian Chronicles.  You can also find out how to BECOME A BLOG HOST FOR FUTURE BOOK TOURS while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review.)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Italian Chronicles Series 1-3 by MaryAnn Diorio - #review


A young woman, a priest, and a secret that keeps them bitterly bound to each other…

A horrifying encounter drags soon-to-be-married Maria Landro into the shocking world of religious corruption and an unrelenting village code of honor that threatens to rob her of everything she holds dear. Shunned by the very people who should have embraced her, she withdraws into the confines of Bella Terra, her family’s farm, and remains there for several years…until she is forced to leave to ensure the formal education of her son. In a desperate attempt to protect her child from vicious tongues and malicious hate-mongers and her family farm from bankruptcy, she determines to seek vengeance against the one who ruined her life. But when Luca Tonetta enters her life, she learns a powerful lesson about forgiveness and grace.


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MY REVIEW OF THE MADONNA OF PISANO

Part of me wants to put #MeToo in the headline to this post.  In fiction or not, present-day or at some point in the past, someone in power always seems to be abusing their power to take something from a weaker person.  Ugh.

Political rant aside, The Madonna of Pisano is a beautifully written story of Maria Landro, a young woman in Sicily.  She has a job at the local priests' home, and one day when her sister servants are not around, the 'good father' rapes her.  As if that isn't bad enough, he threatens her safety and that of her family, lest his shame become known.

And whatever happened to "judge not, lest ye be judged"?  When it became apparent that Maria was pregnant, the townspeople considered her a 'loose woman', and besides the horrible things they said, and ways they treated her, they even went so far as to stop trade with the Landro vineyard, driving the business to near bankruptcy.

You see, fearful for her family, Maria had not revealed the father of her son, Nico.  When Nico turned six, Maria decided to enroll him in the town's public school.  Guess who his teacher turned out to be?  That's right.  Maria's rapist, aka Nico's (blood) father.  At least papa got his knickers in a twist realizing that he was Nico's father.  And it was perversely rewarding to watch him squirm then the bishop charged him to find out who Nico's father was, as the other students had called the boy 'bastard' more than once.

But then he heaps on a little more misery and threatens Maria and Nico's safety when Maria comes to pick up her son afere school.

TGFL (Thank God for Luca), who saw that Maria was a talented seamstress, and gave her alterations work, when no one else in the town would say "boo" to her.  And a couple of Luca's many customers told him that his business would suffer if it became known that he employed a 'whore' to sew for him.

It's a good thing Pisano is fictional, or I'd be temped to go over there and give the town a piece of my mind right in the middle of the square!  If the book I'm reading at any given time is not a cozy mystery, or a thriller, I like it when the story gets me riled up. and Madonna certainly did that,  It's intriguing how novels written without meaning to reflect a current social situation will do just that.

Put me squarely on team Maria (and Luca)!  I also have copies of the 2nd and 3rd books in the series (some information about those below) and I cannot wait to dive into them!!!

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A young man, a new land, and a dream that threatens to destroy him and his family . . .

The dream of a better life for himself and his family drives Luca Tonetta to the American Promised Land with his wife of five years, Maria Landro Tonetto, and their three children. But the new Promised Land is nothing like what Luca had imagined. Forced to live in a roach-infested tenement house in the seedy section of Brooklyn, he faces the hardships, prejudice, and slanderous assaults of an Italian immigrant torn between two worlds. When Luca is accused of a crime he did not commit, he learns that a dream must first die before it can live.


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A mother, her son, and the man who threatens to come between them . . .

When Maria Landro Tonetta receives word that Mama is terminally ill, Maria travels to her Sicilian homeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream. But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul?


~~~oOo~~~

MEET THE AUTHOR

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her books for both adults and children consistently receive excellent reviews for their content and their style. MaryAnn holds the PhD in French with a concentration in Comparative Literature from the University of Kansas. She resides in New Jersey with her husband Dominic, a retired physician. They are the blessed parents of two awesome daughters, a wonderful son-in-law, and five rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn loves to read, to paint, and to make up silly songs for her grandchildren.

For more information, please visit MaryAnn Diorio’s website and blog. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Italian Chronicles

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Click on the banner to go to the tour page, where you will find links to more reviews of the books in this series.  You can also find out how to become a blog host for future book tours while you are there!


(Disclaimer:  I received copies of each book in this series from the author and publishers via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest reviews, each of which is recorded above.