February 20, 2019

The Chef's Secret by Crystal King - Spotlight and Excerpt


Book Details:
Book Title: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King
Category: Adult fiction, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria/Simon & Schuster
Release date: Feb 12, 2019
Tour dates: Feb 11 to 28, 2019
Content Rating: R (for a couple of explicit, but loving, sex scenes (no abuse or rape) and minor curse words)

Book Description:
A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

To follow the tour, please visit Crystal King's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Indiebound
Books-a-Million ~ Kobo ~ iTunes
Google Play ~ Book Depository

Add to Goodreads 

Meet the Author - Crystal King:
Crystal King is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US.

A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston but considers Italy her next great love after her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Nero and Merlin. She is the author of Feast of Sorrow.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

Excerpt:
Excerpt from THE CHEF’S SECRET (Atria/Simon & Schuster) 
By Crystal King

Forty-three days after he first laid eyes upon the most beautiful girl in the world, Bartolomeo had the good fortune to overhear the maids talking about a girl at the palazzo. Two of the serving maids huddled in the pantry near his post where he was prepping nightingales for the cena. When they mentioned the dress she had worn the night before, Bartolomeo realized the principessa was the object of their admiration.

One of the maids was a thin slip of a girl who served the cardinale’s sister. The other was a young woman who had caught his fancy for a time the summer before, but soon bored Bartolomeo with her empty gossip.

“She’s here from Roma,” the first said, awe in her voice. They talked of the girl’s extraordinarily wealthy family, of her famed dressmaker, and of how long it took to wrangle her curls each morning.

When they said her name, Bartolomeo had to put his knife down for fear of cutting himself. Oh, to know her true name! Happiness filled him like a carafe of fine wine. Her name, he thought, was like the taste of strawberries sprinkled with sugar. It was like the summer sun touching the petal of a freshly bloomed flower. That evening, when he gazed out his little garret window, he wished he could shout her name across the rooftops, but he could never say it aloud. To do so was too dangerous, for her and for him. He would take a thousand lashings for his Stella [Author’s note, this is a pet name that Bartolomeo has for her], but he could not bear to have her come to harm.

The next morning, Stella stopped Bartolomeo in the loggia. The sky was bright and the October air was still gentle and warm. He was readying to leave the palazzo to go to market when she approached. He was so startled to see her there he stopped in his tracks, mouth agape.

The princess was radiant in a red velvet gown, her hair piled high upon her head. Her beauty was staggering, her skin so clear, her cheeks ruddy and fresh. What a sight he must seem in comparison, with his own hair a tussle of wild waves, a grease stain adorning one sleeve. He hadn’t bathed, and he was certain he smelled too much like onions and ham.

She recognized his discomfort and giggled, in a way that immediately eased his fear. She gently touched his arm with one hand, and with the other she pressed a piece of paper into his palm. “What is your name?”

He looked around to see who might be witnessing the exchange, but there were only a couple of gardeners in the vicinity, none of whom paid them any mind. “Bartolomeo,” he said, gathering courage.

She released his hand and shared her own name. Bartolomeo’s heart sang as she repeated the word he had been turning over and over in his mind since the day before.

“Please tell the cook how much I love his tourtes.”

Bartolomeo nodded his head vigorously. “I will, madonna, I will.”

She dazzled him with another smile. “I liked the radish flower the best, though.”

She winked and turned away. He stood there, staring at the curve of her departing body, wondering what had just happened. He stared until she rounded the corner of the loggia. He was light-headed and it felt like he was spinning, like a little bird on a spit, fire rising all around it. The piece of paper in his hand was small and warm. He hurried out of the palazzo and down the cobbled street lining the adjoining Rio di San Luca canal.

When he was sure no one could see, he stopped and unfolded the little piece of paper.

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends March 7, 2019




February 19, 2019

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff - Review

I received this book free from the publisher.  All opinions are my own. 

Book details
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (January 29, 2019)
ISBN-13: 978-0778330271

Book description
From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female secret agents during World War II.

1946, Manhattan

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.


Meet the author - Pam Jenoff
Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

Connect with Pam
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

My thoughts
I thought this book was interesting.  The story of women training to be spies was intriguing to me. I don't think I could have been that strong that I could have done that. The characters were strong and I enjoyed getting to know them and follow their story. I liked how the author use each chapter to tell a different woman's story. It helped to move the story along. This was a good book in my opinion.

February 18, 2019

I'd Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel - Review


Book details
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Baker Books (September 4, 2018)
ISBN-13: 978-0801072925

Book description
For so many people, reading isn't just a hobby or a way to pass the time--it's a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them.

I'd Rather Be Reading is the perfect literary companion for everyone who feels that way. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today. Known as a reading tastemaker through her popular podcast What Should I Read Next?, Bogel invites book lovers into a community of like-minded people to discover new ways to approach literature, learn fascinating new things about books and publishing, and reflect on the role reading plays in their lives.

The perfect gift for the bibliophile in everyone's life, I'd Rather Be Reading will command an honored place on the overstuffed bookshelves of any book lover.

Meet the author - Anne Bogel
Anne Bogel is the creator of the popular blog Modern Mrs Darcy and the podcast What Should I Read Next? Her popular book lists and reading guides have established Bogel as a tastemaker among readers, authors, and publishers. The author of Reading People, Bogel lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

My thoughts
I enjoy Anne's blog as Modern Mrs. Darcy and her podcast, What I should I read next? so I wanted to give her book a try. I felt like her and I were having a conversation as she is in love with books as much I am. Each chapter is short and easy to read. You will find some good book recommendations as well as a few ideas on how to keep track of books you have read and a few other things. Glad I picked this book up.

Death by a Whisker by T.C. LoTempio - Spotlight and Giveaway

Book details
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series 
Crooked Lane Books (February 13, 2018) 
Paperback: 320 pages 
ISBN-10: 1683319494 
ISBN-13: 978-1683319498 
Digital ASIN: B072395VJN
  

Book description
Getting used to life back home in Deer Park, North Carolina, Sydney McCall and her right-hand tabby, Toby, are helping her sister Kat run the local animal shelter. Syd and Kat are all excited about the prospect of the shelter’s newest fundraiser: shopping channel queen Ulla Townsend. Shelter admin Maggie Shayne vehemently refuses to have anything to do with the woman, but the fundraiser ensues as planned. That is, until Ulla turns up dead in the middle of the event.

The cause of death is determined to be an allergic reaction, but Syd and Toby are sniffing out something fishy. When Syd met Ulla, it was clear she was distasteful and rude. And right before the event, Syd spotted some behind-the-scenes drama between Ulla and her manager. As they begin to investigate, they realize there is no shortage of suspects, and Maggie is at the top of the list.

Now Syd and Toby must claw their way to the truth before everything goes paws up at their animal shelter in Death by a Whisker by national bestselling author T. C. LoTempio.

Meet the author - T.C. LoTempio
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuted Dec. 2, 2014. Followed by #2, CLAWS FOR ALARM. #3, CRIME AND CATNIP, was released in December. She, Rocco and Maxx make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at www.tclotempio.net and www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

Where to find them: ROCCO’s blog: www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com 
Twitter: @RoccoBlogger - https://twitter.com/@RoccoBlogger 

Purchase Links: Amazon B&N Google Play 

Giveaway


Tour Participants 
February 12 – Sneaky the Library Cat's Blog – SPOTLIGHT 
February 12 – Carla Loves To Read - REVIEW 
February 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW 
February 13 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT 
February 14 – The Book Diva's Reads – SPOTLIGHT 
February 14 – Laura`s Interests – REVIEW* 
February 15 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW* 
February 15 – Mallory Heart's Cozies – REVIEW 
February 16 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW 
February 17 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
February 17 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT 
February 18 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW* 
February 18 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT 
February 19 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 
February 19 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
February 20 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW* 
February 21 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

February 13, 2019

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen - Review

I received this book free from the publisher.  All opinions are my own. 

Book details
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (February 12, 2019)
ISBN-13: 978-1542040112

Book description
From the bestselling author of The Tuscan Child comes a beautiful and heart-rending novel of a woman’s love and sacrifice during the First World War.

As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage.

When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow.

As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster, but may open a path to her destiny.

Meet the author - Rhys Bowen
Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 novels, including In Farleigh Field and three award-winning historical mystery series. Her works have garnered numerous accolades, including multiple Agatha, Anthony, and MacAvity awards.

My thoughts
This was a well written story. I have enjoyed Rhys' Molly Murphy series and was looking forward to try an stand alone book by her. I enjoyed that the author did her research for the historical aspect of the book. Then you add a bit of romance to round out the story. Makes a perfect fit. Emily was a favorite character of mine and I loved the things she did for the war effort and gets others to help her. All the characters were well developed and the settings/scenes well described. A good read

February 12, 2019

Corpse & Crown by Alissa Kwitney - Spotlight


Book details
Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Grade Level: 7 and up
Series: Cadaver & Queen (Book 2)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Inkyard Press; Original edition (February 12, 2019)
ISBN-13: 978-1335542229

Book description
Agatha DeLacey’s family isn’t rich or titled, so studying nursing at Ingold’s East End hospital in London is a rare opportunity for her. Despite the school’s focus on the innovative Bio-Mechanical program, Aggie cares more about the desperately poor human patients who flood the hospital, even if that means providing unauthorized treatment after-hours…and trusting a charming, endlessly resourceful thief.

But the Artful Dodger is barely a step ahead of his underworld rivals, the menacing Bill Sykes and mercurial Oliver Twist, and Aggie’s association with him soon leads her into danger. When a brutal attack leaves her blind, she and the Dodger find themselves at the mercy of an experimental Bio-Mech surgery. Though the procedure restores Aggie’s sight, her new eyes come at an unnerving cost, and the changes in Dodger are even more alarming—instead of seeing Aggie as the girl he fancies, he now views her as a potential threat.

As war between England and Germany brews on the horizon and a sinister medical conspiracy threatens to shatter the uneasy peace in Europe, Aggie and the Dodger must find a way to work together so they can protect their friends and expose the truth…even if it means risking their own survival.


Purchase Links
Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Alisa
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Meet the author - Alisa Kwitney
Alisa Kwitney was once an editor at DC Comics/Vertigo and is an Eisner-nominated author of graphic novels, romantic women's fiction and urban fantasy. She is one of the authors of A Flight of Angels, which made YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list, and the YA graphic novel Token, named a highlight of the Minx imprint by Publishers Weekly. Alisa has an MFA from Columbia University.

TOUR STOPS:
Monday, February 11th: Storied Adventures and @storied.adventures
Tuesday, February 12th: A Holland Reads – spotlight
Wednesday, February 13th: A Dream Within A Dream
Monday, February 18th: @ladyofthelibrary
Tuesday, February 19th: Bookworm for Kids
Wednesday, February 20th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, February 25th: @amberafterglowreads
Wednesday, February 27th: Girls in Books and @girlsinbooks
Thursday, February 28th: @megabunnyreads
Wednesday, March 6th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, March 11th: Rockin’ Book Reviews

February 9, 2019

The Novel Art of Murder by V.M. Burns - Spotlight and Giveaway

 

Book details
Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series 
Kensington (November 27, 2018) 
Paperback: 256 pages 
ISBN-10: 1496711858 
ISBN-13: 978-1496711854 
Digital ASIN: B07B7B4C8Q
  

Book description
Mystery bookstore owner Samantha Washington is trying to keep her grandmother from spending her golden years in an orange jumpsuit . . . The small town of North Harbor, Michigan, is just not big enough for the two of them: flamboyant phony Maria Romanov and feisty Nana Jo. The insufferable Maria claims she's descended from Russian royalty and even had a fling with King Edward VIII back in the day. She’s not just a lousy liar, she's a bad actress, so when she nabs the lead in the Shady Acres Senior Follies—a part Nana Jo plays every year in their retirement village production—Nana Jo blows a gasket and reads her the riot act in front of everyone. Of course, when Maria is silenced with a bullet to the head, Nana Jo lands the leading role on the suspects list. Sam’s been writing her newest mystery, set in England between the wars, with her intrepid heroine Lady Daphne drawn into murder and scandal in the household of Winston Churchill. But now she has to prove that Nana Jo’s been framed. With help from her grandmother's posse of rambunctious retirees, Sam shines a spotlight on Maria’s secrets, hoping to draw the real killer out of the shadow

Meet the author - V.M. Burns
V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com

Author Links:
Website: http://www.vmburns.com/ 
Twitter: @vmburns 


Giveaway


TOUR PARTICIPANTS 
January 30 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW 
January 30 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT 
January 31 – Laura`s Interests – REVIEW, GUEST POST 
January 31 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
February 1 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW 
February 1 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT 
February 1 – Teresa Trent Author Blog - REVIEW 
February 2 – Mallory Heart's Cozies – REVIEW 
February 2 – Mythical Books – SPOTLIGHT 
February 2 – The Editing Pen – GUEST POST 
February 3 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST 
February 4 – The Layaway Dragon – REVIEW 
February 4 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT 
February 5 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW 
February 5 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW 
February 5 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
February 6 – Rae’s Books and Recipes – SPOTLIGHT 
February 6 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST 
February 6 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
February 7 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT 
February 7 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST 
February 7 – Jody’s Book Reviews, Book Tours & Giveaways – SPOTLIGHT 
February 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT 
February 8 – Readeropolis – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
February 8 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW 
February 9 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW 
February 9 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT 
February 10 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT