Review: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli by Alyssa Palombo

Last year I had the pleasure of being introduced to Alyssa Palombo’s debut novel, The Violinist of Venice, a love story about Antonio Vivaldi. I love how Palombo takes relatively well known and passionate artists (musicians and painters) and crafts a historical fiction novel.

People like Antonio Vivaldi and in this book, Sandro Botticelli, aren’t characters that I would think of in history and decide to write a romantic novel about them which is what makes these books so unique to me.

A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle.

Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence―most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici―become enthralled with her beauty.

That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him.

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Review: A Study In Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock #1) by Sherry Thomas

For some reason, over the last few months I’ve repeatedly seen the Lady Sherlock series popping up on my Twitter feed. I am a sucker for Sherlock Holmes inspired mysteries so when I saw this come up so often, I gave in and decided to read it!

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.

But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind (summary from Goodreads).

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Review: Slightly South of Simple: A Novel (Peachtree Bluff #1) by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Peachtree’s motto is “A place to call home” and oh what a home it is! There is something about Southern literature that is so homey and comforting. I loved Kristy Woodson Harvey’s book, Lies and Other Acts of Love…..her books kind of have that sweet tea and a soft summer breeze feel to them. I can almost smell the magnolias from here!

In her latest book, we return to the South, this time to the town of Peachtree Bluff where, as I said it’s a ‘place to call home’ and that’s where we find Caroline Murphy.

Caroline swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers.

But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms.

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Review: As Death Draws Near (Lady Darby Mystery #5) by Anna Lee Huber

First of all, let me start out by saying how much I love this series. I love the chemistry between Gage and Kiera so much and each mystery reads very quickly. I’ve been binge reading the books since spring break so here we are with the fifth mystery which puts me officially caught up on the series.

June 1831. In the midst of their idyllic honeymoon in England’s Lake District, Kiera and Gage’s seclusion is soon interrupted by a missive from her new father-in-law. A deadly incident involving a distant relative of the Duke of Wellington has taken place at an abbey south of Dublin, Ireland, and he insists that Kiera and Gage look into the matter.

Intent on discovering what kind of monster could murder a woman of the cloth, the couple travel to Rathfarnham Abbey school. Soon a second nun is slain in broad daylight near a classroom full of young girls. With the sinful killer growing bolder, the mother superior would like to send the students home, but the growing civil unrest in Ireland would make the journey treacherous.

Before long, Kiera starts to suspect that some of the girls may be hiding a sinister secret. With the killer poised to strike yet again, Kiera and Gage must make haste and unmask the fiend, before their matrimonial bliss comes to an untimely end (summary from Goodreads).

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Review: All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

I’ve come to hold Sonja Yoerg novels in very high esteem. They are usually very thought provoking, well written, and real. So naturally when this book came across my desk for review, I was thrilled. Though the description sounded slightly different than something I would expect from Yoerg’s novels…..this one had a magic element which surprised me.

While this was unexpected, I love books with magical realism and magic themes so I was even more excited to read this one than I was her other novels.

Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange.

So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

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