Friday, April 18, 2014

The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux

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Described as “one of America’s greatest living writers” by the Financial Times of London, L’Heureux returns with a long-awaited new historical fiction novel; the result of years of research—backed by a Guggenheim Grant—on location in Europe.
In this well-conceived, historically accurate rendering, the Renaissance worlds of art, politics and passion collide. With his distinct style and rich, sinewy narrative, L’Heureux ingeniously transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy—directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant.
 While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save Donatello, even his master’s friend—the great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici.
John L’Heureux’s long-awaited hardcover delivers both a monumental and intimate narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers. With incisive detail, L’Heureux artfully renders the master sculptor’s forbidden homosexual passions, and the artistry that enthralled the leading—and competing—powerbrokers of Renaissance Florence: the Medici and Albizzi families. The finished work is a sumptuously detailed narrative that entertains while it delves deeply into both the sacred and the profane within one of the Italian Renaissance’s most consequential cities, fifteenth century Florence.
L'Heuureux's novel brings readers inside the bottega and close to the genius of Donatello. Lucas makes a great narrator, able to see the flaws of others and himself. I appreciated Luca's story, but loved that his true devotion and life belonged to the great artist. The art seems to come to life, much like the characters themselves. I think art lovers and hf lovers will enjoy this book about life, love, art and beauty .
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning poet, novelist, and short story writer, John L’Heureux has taught at Georgetown University, Tufts, Harvard, and (for more than 35 years) in the English Department of Stanford University where he was Lane Professor of Humanities.  There he received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and earned it again in 1998.
A prolific writer, L’Heureux has written more than twenty books of fiction, short fiction and poetry..  His works have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and have been included in dozens of anthologies including Best American Stories and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards.
John L’Heureux has twice received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2006 he was awarded a Guggenheim Grant to do research for The Medici Boy, his new novel.
He is retired and lives in Palo Alto with his wife



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HFVBT Tour Stop The Collector of Dying Breaths

Tour Hashtag:#DyingBreathsTour
Publication Date: April 8, 2014Atria Books
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 1451621531
From one of America’s most imaginative storytellers comes a passionate tale of love and treachery, spanning the days of Catherine de Medici’s court to the twenty-first century and starring a woman drawn  back, time and again, to the past. In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years RenĂ© le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.But it’s RenĂ©’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next. Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon.
Rose has created another great book filled with plot twits and unforgettable characters that her fans have come to expect. I was so saddened at Jac's heartache. But thus heartache allows for her happiness. I loved Melinoe's character. I think she fit perfectly into the book. I cain't wait to read what Rose writes next. Praise for The Collector of Dying Breaths
“History, mystery, ambition, lust, love, death and the timeless quest for immortality…a riveting tale of suspense.” – B.A.Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger“Mysterious, magical, and mythical…what a joy to read!” – Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author
Buy the Book
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About the Author
M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Frances Osgood was a woman with promise at one time. Giving up her life of luxury, she married. Only to be abandoned. Now raising her two daughters on her own and living off friend's charity, she begins to write poems. When she attracts the attention of the mysterious celebrity, Edgar Allan Poe and his wife, Virginia Clemm, her life begins to change. Frances is increasingly attracted and attached to Edgar, but Virginia wants to befriend her rival. Frances finds herself feeling threatened and stuck in the odd love triangle. Desperate to save herself, Frances must do the hardest thing, give up Edgar. But is she able to?
This novel was really good. I loved all the real historical characters that were featured in this book. Cullen captured the fact and perfectly blended in the fiction. The plot was awesome. There were twists and turns. I was pulling for Frances, though I was just as torn as she was. I also think Cullen captured Poe perfectly. Its an awesome book.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sappho's Leap by Erica Jong

Sappho's infamous journey begins at fourteen when her lover Alcaeus is exiled. Married off and unhappy, Sappho sets off on a journey to find freedom and happiness. Instead she finds love, lust, friendship and adventure.
This novel has been on my TR list for forever. When I got my review copy from the publisher, I was overcome with joy. This book doesn't disapppoint. Sappho's journey still reasonates today. The plot was amazing. I sometimes wondered at how mythological it was. The prose was amazing. I loved this book. I highly recommend  it to all readers.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me a review copy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Blood between Queens by Barbra Kyle

Justine Thornleigh has been raised as the ward and niece of Baron Thornleigh. But she is actually a rival Grenville, orphaned when her catholic father attempted to overthrow protestant Elizabeth. When she learns of this, she is eager to prove herself a true Thornleigh and win her distant cousin Will's love. When Queen Elizabeth tasks Justine with spying on Mary, Queen of Scots, Justine must accept. The Scottish Queen inspires sympathy in Justine. People knowing Justine's true past also begin to haunt her present. Will Justine become traitorous like her father or prove herself to be a loyal Thornleigh.

I hadn't read the first Four Thornleigh books, so I worried about this being too tied in with the previous books to be readable. I am pleased to report this is a perfect stand alone book. The story was a good one. I loved how Justine was trying to find out who she really is. Her story fit in perfectly with history, even though it's fiction. This book made me want to go back and read the rest of the books. I really enjoyed it.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Emperor's Conspiracy by Michelle Diener

Charlotte Raven is a lucky girl. Working as a chimney sweep, she is taken in by a wealthy ton woman. Now older, she has escaped her poverty, but it still haunts her. Charlotte is just as comfortable dancing in a ballroom as walking the slum streets. When she becomes Lord Edward Durnham's guide to the London's Crime Scene. Her only request, that Luke her childhood protector and London's most infamous Crime Lord be spared. But Luke wants Charlotte back at his side. Charlotte must make a choice, her past or her present.

This novel brought nineteenth century London to life. The glittering ton lifestyle is harshly contrasted to the London slums. Charlotte navigates both with ease taking the reader along. I loved her giving heart and her quick wit. The romantic love triangle was nicely played out without being overpowering. The action was quick and full of turns. Overall, a great novel.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me a review copy.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Mapmaker's Daughter by Laurel Corona

Amalia de Cresques, daughter of the famous mapmaker, sits alone in 1492 waiting for exile or death. Living her life as a Jew in Spain has lead her to this point in her life. But things were different once. Amalia recounts her life and wonders if the famous Catalan Atlas will lead her home or to death.

This is my first novel by Laurel Corona, though I have another of her books and am dying for a second. Her writing style is gorgeous. Amalia's life story is amazing. She travels extensively, especially for a woman of this era. Each setting has a distinct feel, and I enjoyed this ability to transport the reader to each location. I also loved how the author showcased the interaction between the three major groups inhabiting Spain and Portugal. I loved how Amalia fit it or didn't with each group. The book is full of beautiful poetry and gorgeous relationships. I really enjoyed this book.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me a review copy via Netgalley.