Category Archives: Reviews

Appointment with Isil – A Book Review

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Joe Giordano has written a suspenseful thriller that sends us all over the Mediterranean – such as Greece, Turkey, Italy, Malta – dealing with Russian and Italian mobsters, as well as ISIL. It all begins when Anthony Provati, a young good looking boy from New York City flirts with the wrong woman! Meeting in a bar while he’s playing music, their eyes meet. This flirtation doesn’t go unnoticed by her Russian mobster boyfriend. Things heat up and Anthony ends up dealing with a whole lot of trouble (and really bad guys). Terrorism, executions – they’re all a huge part of the plot of this story that keeps you hooked until the end.

I would have liked to have a couple of the characters explored more in depth –  particularly Angie Dekker and Noki. Both seemed to be important characters of the story, but their stories weren’t really expanded on. In fact, Angie Dekker was presented at the beginning and then didn’t re-surface until almost the end. When she did re-surface, it was very brief. It’s almost as if they lost their place in the story.

If you’re looking for a quick suspenseful read, this would be a great story to keep you hooked. It has it’s drawbacks, but on the whole, I would recommend it.

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Book Spotlight: Dancing in the Rain

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I’ve been asked to spotlight this new book by Lucy Appadoo on my blog. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’d like to soon! It sounds like something right up my alley!

Dancing in the Rain

Book Details:

Book Title:  Dancing in the Rain (The Italian Family Series)
Author:  Lucy Appadoo
Category:  Adult Fiction,   274 pages
Genre:   Historical Coming of Age/Romance/Family Drama
Publisher:  Lucy Appadoo
Release date:  March 24, 2017
Tour dates:  June 5 to 23, 2017
Content Rating:  PG-13 + M (There is physical abuse and death involved.)

Book Description:

Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Meet the Author:
Lucy Appadoo

Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Book Review: More Than A Soldier

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More Than a Soldier

 

A few weeks ago, I posted a spotlight of the book More Than A Soldier by D.M. Annechino.

D.M. Annechino

At that time, I had not read the book yet. Reading the excerpt, I was anxious to actually read the entire story – it sounded so fascinating. I’m happy to report that I just finished reading it (and I read it in record speed)! It was excellent! The writing style was such that you felt like you were experiencing all the emotions that Army Ranger Angelo Di Marco did while he was fighting in combat as well as trying to survive as a fugitive from the Nazis. His heartaches at losing his fellow Army Rangers, and his worries for his own survival and those of his comrades, were so real that the words touched my heart. This is an amazing story of determination, strength, courage and hope – as well as devastation and desperation. It’s also a story of love – the love that he felt for his family and for his fellow servicemen. The bonds that connected him to everyone, including those kind Italians that helped him survive, were so strong and beautiful. Knowing that this is a true story is all the more poignant and meaningful. I’m so glad that Angelo decided to share this amazing story before he passed away, as it is a story not to be forgotten. I can highly recommend this book as a great historical account of World War II – I very much enjoyed the humanity of this story.

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More Than a Soldier: One Army Ranger’s Daring Escape from the Nazis

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More Than a Soldier

Feeling a patriotic duty to defend his country after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor,
seventeen year old, Angelo J. DiMarco, enlists in the U.S. Army. Severely short
of frontline fighters, the Army rushes Angelo through Ranger training and sends
him to Italy as part of the 1st Ranger Battalion. Their objective: stop the German invasion.

Fighting on the front lines in Italy, the German’s teach Angelo a sobering lesson on life when they capture him during the bloody battle of Cisterna. Against
insurmountable odds, Angelo miraculously escapes in a way that stretches the
imagination. He survives behind enemy lines for over five months, hiding from
the Germans and trying to outmaneuver them. He begs for food, sleeps in barns
and suffers from many ailments, including dehydration, malnutrition, malaria and
exposure to the elements.

More Than a Soldier is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, resilience and
courage.

Where to Buy the Book:  ​Amazon ​

Annechino colorfully draws the actions scenes, and richly brings the supporting cast of characters to life. A moving tale of survival in war-torn Europe.  ~Kirkus Reviews

Nuanced and eloquently written, More Than a Soldier adds to the body of WWII literature an extraordinary story of survival and a deeply affecting portrait of a
soldier’s coming-of-age. ~The iRead Review

D.M. Annechino

Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping
and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. He has written and published
five novels—all thrillers. But his latest work, More Than a Soldier, is a
Historical Biography set in Italy during WWII.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He
loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time
on the warm beaches of Southern California.

Guest Post by Daniel Annechino: The Life of an Author

An ex-workmate of mine who I haven’t seen since I quit my “traditional job” seven years ago contacted me the other day because he’s writing a novel and is looking for some direction. He asked me a bunch of questions that I did my best to answer, questions about grammar, editing, literary agents, and getting published. As I typed away, I realized that not one of his questions concerned marketing or promotion. This led me to believe that many aspiring writers—through no fault of their own—have no idea what the life of an author is like.

There was a time many years ago when an author did three things: They wrote. They read. They participated in book signings. But in this day and age, an age of e-books, the Internet, social media and self-publishing, writers spend more time marketing themselves than actually writing. Unless you’re a well-known author with an established following like Stephen King, Michael Connelly, or Patricia Cornwell, promoting yourself may actually be more important than what you’re promoting. In other words, “the sizzle is more important than the steak”. Buzz is everything and buzz sells books.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned a great deal about the complicated world of writing. Although I have a long, long way to go before I could even begin to think of myself as a successful author (at least based on my lofty expectations), each and every day I must manage my blog and frequently add new posts. Admittedly, I’ve not given my website the attention it deserves, but I do my best. I have to maintain a presence on many of the popular writers’ blogs. And perhaps most important, I must be visible on Facebook and Twitter and network as much as I can. I have to promote my book(s) and myself every-single-day.

To be honest, I’m not really fond of marketing and promoting. I wish all that was necessary to become a successful writer was to write. But that is not the way of the world; at least not in the year 2017. So, even though it pains me and gobbles up more of my day than it should, the new world of writing holds me hostage. Before you even think about publishing a book, do some homework and learn to understand the business of writing.

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The Tourist – A Movie Review

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Now I know that this movie didn’t get very good ratings – they said it was slow and predictable – but I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. I guess I’m not that much of a movie critic and I much prefer an easy to understand plot with great scenery! After all, I like to watch movies to be entertained and not to have to put on my thinking cap for too much analysis!

Angelina Jolie was absolutely stunning in this movie – from her hair, to her make up, to her wardrobe – she was so elegant and beautiful!

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She is always a very pretty woman, but in this movie, I think she was the prettiest I’ve ever seen her! Johnny Depp was entertaining as always – even though he wasn’t as good looking as he usually is! He was a bit disheveled but I guess that was the point!

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The scenery in Venice was incredible! I had to notice, though, that the director used some creative license in filming locales. The Hotel Danieli’s lobby was truly the real hotel’s lobby, but the dockside entrance was another hotel altogether. The Hotel Danieli does not have a dockside port on the Grand Canal but a side entrance along one of the little canals instead. The movie also made a plug for SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) properties when it was mentioned that the 3 most elegant hotels in Venice were the Hotel Danieli, The Gritti Palace, and the Westin Regina (all SPG properties!). Maybe SPG was a secret sponsor of the movie? Hmm….

If you want a great location movie, then I would highly recommend this one – the scenery will not disappoint at all!

The Cadence of Gypsies – A Book Review

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I have to say that this book kept me riveted from start to finish! It was an easy read and a great story!

Carolina Lovel found out at 18 that she had been adopted. Along with receiving this information (something she really wasn’t all that surprised about since she always felt that something was missing in her relationship with her adopted parents), she was given a box containing some mysterious objects, pages from a manuscript written in an unknown language, and her birth certificate which stated that she was born in Italy! From that moment on, translating the document became her obsession as well as her sanity. She found that it was similarly written to a mysterious document called the Voynich Manuscripts – an ancient gypsy manuscript which was almost impossible to decipher without LOTS of research. Carolina worked on this secret project,  revealing every tidbit only to her soulmate, Larry. Even though she shared all with him and he helped her with this endeavor, something was missing in that relationship, too. Carolina had the inner need to find herself before being able to give herself fully to another person. Larry seemed to understand this and hoped that one day she would find all the answers she searched for.

After graduating college, Carolina took a job at the Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. She was put in charge of 3 highly gifted (genius status) girls – put in charge because, even though these girls had intelligence levels higher than their classmates, they were always getting into mischief – to the horror of the headmaster! Carolina seemed to understand these young girls and they developed a mutual respect and admiration for each other. The girls were “affectionately” known as the FIGS.

When the FIGS crossed the line and trimmed the headmaster’s prize tree into an inappropriate “sculpture”, Carolina was asked to “take care of them!”. Carolina understood the FIGS and loved them, despite their mischievous ways. She decided to channel their high intelligence and creativity with an idea. She presented it to the headmaster to get his opinion, and with his blessing, she approached the girls with a project – to help her with her private research project of deciphering the Voynich Manuscript and, with that, her letter. She planned to take the girls abroad to Italy on a study abroad program. The girls accepted the challenge with great enthusiasm and they all contributed their intellectual powers full force.

Arriving in Italy, they were given rooms in an old farmhouse run by an elderly couple. As soon as they set foot in Italy, the girls and Carolina were accepted with open arms and shown genuine affection by the couple. It was one of the first times that the FIGS knew what it was like to be loved by a family. They all thrived here and realized that they could face their futures without any fear.

Carolina and the girls threw themselves full force into their research, uncovering truths and also dark secrets. All the while that this research was happening, dark forces were also happening at the gypsy camp in town which would ultimately affect Carolina and the FIGS.

The outcome of all these things coming together is what makes the reader keep reading – what’s going to happen? How are all the puzzle pieces finally going to come together?

I can highly recommend reading this book – it will keep you enthralled until the last page!

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

Author’s Bio:

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan.

In 2014 Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other 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.

Connect with the author:  Website

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Interview with Barbara Casey:

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I am president and owner of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Canada, and I am also a partner in a publishing company that publishes nonfiction/true crime.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing creatively when I was a young child. I loved writing simple rhyming poems, then built up to more involved stories as I got older.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Occasionally the words just don’t want to cooperate – they don’t seem to say what I want them to say. When that happens, I take my three dogs out for a long walk in the woods, and it is amazing how often that clears my head.

What is your next project?

The Cadence of Gypsies is the first book in THE F.I.G. MYSTERIES. The Wish Rider is the sequel to The Cadence of Gypsies and it is scheduled for publication May 5. So now I am working on the third book in the series.

What genre do you write and why?

I write primarily adult fiction – novels – but occasionally, as in this case, young adult novels. I also write true crime/biography, and Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly has just been released.

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The Winemakers – A Book Review

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The Winemakers by Jan Moran debut

About the book:

1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a
grandmother she’s never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret — a
secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has
worked for. Many years before, her mother’s hard-won dreams of staking her family’s claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she
realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried
past.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.

Buy the book:   Amazon  ~   Barnes & Noble  ~   Kobo  ~  Chapters ~  Books-a-Million
~   Book Depository   ~  iBooks

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About Jan Moran:

Jan Moran is a Rizzoli bestselling and award winning author. She writes historical
women’s fiction for St. Martin’s Press (Scent of Triumph, The Winemakers),
contemporary women’s fiction (Flawless, Beauty Mark, Runway), and nonfiction
books (Vintage Perfumes, Fabulous Fragrances). Her stories are smart and
stylish, and written with emotional depth. Jan often draws on her international
travel and business experiences, infusing her books with realistic
details.

The Midwest Book Review and Kirkus have recommended her books, calling her heroines strong, complex, and resourceful. She likes to talk to readers at www.janmoran.com and on social media. She lives in
southern California and loves lattes and iced coffee, anything chocolate, and
Whole Foods Double Green smoothies to balance it all out.

Connect with the author at her various sites:

janmoranbooks@gmail.com
Website
Twitter
Pinterest
Facebook
Instagram

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Interview with Jan Moran:

The Winemakers is set in Napa and Italy. Have you ever visited there areas?

Napa Valley and Tuscany are two of my favorite places in the world; The Winemakers grew out of the passion I felt for these regions. I fell in love with the natural beauty and the winemakers’ sense of artistry and stewardship for the land. Add to that a leisurely lifestyle, excellent food and wine, and good friends—need I say more?

How long have you been writing?

I’ve loved reading and writing since I was a little girl. My first nonfiction book, Fabulous Fragrances, was published in 1994, and I turned to writing novels a few years later.

What are your favorite wines?

So many wonderful wines… Some that have special meaning to me include Brunello di Montalcino, one of the wines featured in The Winemakers, as well as Moone-Tsai’s Cor Leonis Cabernet Sauvignon, Chassagne Montrachet, and the Bordeaux: Pomerol, Saint-Émilion, and Margaux. Although I don’t drink a lot, for casual evenings I might enjoy an Argentine Malbec, a Californian Pinot Noir, or a creamy Chardonnay. Every wine-producing region has a unique terroir, or set of environmental characteristics, which make the wines of each area special. When traveling, I love to sample regional wines.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I’ve had several professions in business. For example, I founded a company that created touch-screen beauty programs for Sephora and Duty Free Stores around the world, so I often draw on these business experiences in my writing. I also studied writing at the University of California in Los Angeles, majored in finance at the University of Texas in Austin (hook ‘em horns!), and earned an MBA from Harvard. After that I worked as a management consultant and headed a nonprofit charity. This variety really serves me well in writing.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

Actually, I identify with many characters in my books, and I especially enjoy writing multigenerational stories.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Walking on the beach, exercising, or listening to music are good ways for me to summon the muse.

What is your next project?

I’m working on another historical novel set in the 20th century and can’t wait to share it with readers.

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