Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

  • Title:  Kiss Carlo
  • Author:  Adriana Trigiani
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  544
  • Published:  June 2017 – Harper
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match. 

Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.

From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.

Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.  (publisher)

My take:  Adriana Trigiani is back with a tale about a big family who live in South Philadelphia. It’s the post-WWII years and people are optimistic about getting back to finding the American dream and all that entails. Trigiani’s characters are relatable yet sometimes larger than life. They have important lessons to learn and are mostly grateful when they do. Most important was finding one’s true purpose and how to recognize it when it appeared. As serious as that sounds there are also laugh-out-loud moments. As in all of her novels, Trigiani’s attention to detailed descriptions left no question in my mind what the setting in any given scene looked like. Her novels often seem cinematic to me and I’d love to see this one on the big screen. With a nod to Shakespeare and Italian operas, Trigiani has written a very heartfelt and entertaining novel. I enjoyed every page.


 

The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

  • Title:  The Book of Summer
  • Author:  Michelle Gable
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  May 2017 – Thomas Dunne Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Physician Bess Codman has returned to her family’s Nantucket compound, Cliff House, for the first time in four years. Her great-grandparents built Cliff House almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Though she’s purposefully avoided the island, Bess must now pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave.

The Book of Summer unravels the power and secrets of Cliff House as told through the voices of Ruby Packard, a bright-eyed and idealistic newlywed on the eve of WWII, the home’s definitive guestbook, and Bess herself. Bess’s grandmother always said it was a house of women, and by the very last day of the very last summer at Cliff House, Bess will understand the truth of her grandmother’s words in ways she never contemplated. (publisher)

My take:  The Book of Summer is the story of a summer home situated on a Nantucket bluff. The bluff is threatened by erosion and the future of the home is bleak. Bess, daughter of the current resident, returns to the island to help her mother pack up and move before the house falls into the sea.

With the help of a guest book (named The Book of Summer) from the days of Bess’s great-grandmother’s time at the house she revisits her past and that of the generations before her. Most of the novel concentrates on the 1940s and present day. Bess can learn some important lessons from the people who wrote in the book – especially the strong women who faced many challenges head-on.

Michelle Gable’s novel is immensely entertaining – perfect for a summer read. Recommended to fans of family dramas and a Nantucket setting.


About the author:  New York Times bestselling author of A PARIS APARTMENT and I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS, Michelle Gable graduated from The College of William & Mary. After a twenty year career in finance,  she now writes full-time. Michelle lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.


Praise for THE BOOK OF SUMMER:

“Gable cleverly illuminates the past, revealing how it mirrors the present. This is a splendid multigenerational novel about the strength of the women of Cliff House.” – Publishers Weekly

“A sure bet for women-fiction fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Nantucket novels.” – Booklist


 

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson

  • Title:  Goodnight From London
  • Author:  Jennifer Robson
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  May 2017 – William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  From USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—author of Moonlight Over Paris and Somewhere in France—comes a lush historical novel that tells the fascinating story of Ruby Sutton, an ambitious American journalist who moves to London in 1940 to report on the Second World War, and to start a new life an ocean away from her past.

In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it’s an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby’s new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

Goodnight from London, inspired in part by the wartime experiences of the author’s own grandmother, is a captivating, heartfelt, and historically immersive story that readers are sure to embrace.  (publisher)

My take:  Goodnight From London is the story of Ruby Sutton, a young American writer who was sent to London to cover the war for her magazine as well as a London magazine. She experienced the Blitz, learned to live without things she’d considered basic necessitiess of life, and along the way met some people who would change her life. It’s a story of hope, determination, survival, friendship and love during very difficult times.
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I thought Jennifer Robson did a wonderful job portraying the spirit of the British people in time of war. Highly recommended to fans of the genre and Jennifer Robson.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

I want to wish Mark Sullivan a happy publication day of his novel

BENEATH A SCARLET SKY.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.


About the author:  Mark Sullivan is the acclaimed author of eighteen novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Private series, which he writes with James Patterson. Mark has received numerous awards for his writing, including the WHSmith Fresh Talent Award, and his works have been named a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. He grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in English before working as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. Upon his return to the United States, he earned a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and began a career in investigative journalism. An avid skier and adventurer, he lives with his wife in Bozeman, Montana, where he remains grateful for the miracle of every moment.


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends on May 8, 2017 


Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo

 

About the Book:  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. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.

Alyssa Palombo’s The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence vividly captures the dangerous allure of the artist and muse bond with candor and unforgettable passion.


About the author:  Alyssa Palombo is the author of The Violinist of Venice. She has published short fiction pieces in Black Lantern Magazine and The Great Lakes Review.  She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively.  A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. The Violinist of Venice is her first novel. She lives in Buffalo, New York.

 

 

Photo credit: Elizabeth Snyder Photography, LLC

 

Connect with Alyssa Palombo:

Website: https://alyssapalombo.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alyssinwnderlnd


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends on May 3, 2017 


The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

  • Title:  The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir
  • Author:  Jennifer Ryan
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Crown
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead “carry on singing.” Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir,” the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit– a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past– we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life. In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the homefront, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.  (publisher)

My take:  My thanks to the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and Crown for the  review copy. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is a warm and touching novel about life in a village in Kent during 1940. The war is in full-swing and most able-bodied men are away, involved in the fight. When the Vicar sees fit to disband the choir because there are no male voices, the women beg to differ in their opinion. Under the leadership of a confident director, the ladies of Chilbury meet to practice their songs and, at the same time, become a source of support to each other that will be invaluable in the days ahead.

Jennifer Ryan’s novel will probably land on my favorites list this year. Told through letters, diary entries, newspaper items, etc. the story of Chilbury unfolded seamlessly. The drama, humor, fear and sadness were palpable when shared by various characters’ perspectives. When I finished reading I immediately thought ‘there’s more story to be told here’ as only a few months in 1940 were covered. I’d love a series! This is Ryan’s debut novel and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. Recommended to fans of historical fiction.

Note: I also used an Audible credit for the book. It’s a wonderful audio production.

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

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  • the-bridge-across-the-ocean-319Title:  A Bridge Across the Ocean
  • Author:  Susan Meissner
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 2017 – Berkley Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women—past and present—in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life.

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings. (publisher)

My take:  Annaliese was a German girl with hopes of being a ballet dancer. Those hopes were dashed when she unknowingly caught the eye of a Nazi official. After a few weeks of dinners out he convinced her (creepily) to marry him. Her life would never be the same.

Simone’s father and brother were murdered before her eyes. Somehow she followed directions her father had laid out for her to get to safety. It was a harrowing journey but it eventually led her to a new path in life. Annaliese and Simone met in England and sailed on the Queen Mary to the US along with hundreds of other war brides. Once again, things didn’t go as planned.

Brette is a young married woman in California. She’s been able to see things (think spirits) most people can’t for most of her life. After a tour of the Queen Mary (rumored to be haunted) she knows she needs to find answers to a few questions. Her day on the ship compels her to search for Simone and Annaliese. She also hopes to find a way to be comfortable with her ability.

A Bridge Across the Ocean is the story of three women faced with life-changing challenges. Two of their stories took place during WWII and one, Brette’s, is present day. Told from the three perspectives I felt the novel unfolded at a good pace and a few chapters in I had a tough time putting it down. It’s a tale about crossing bridges in life. Often what one finds on the other side is not as frightening as imagined. It’s a story of bravery, acceptance and forgiveness.