Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

Saturday, March 31, 2018

My Review of "Lucia’s Renaissance" by C. L. R. Peterson

Inquisition, Pestilence during the Italian Renaissance

For most of us, the word Inquisition conjures up Medieval Spain and Portugal. However, during the waning decades of the Italian Renaissance and after the pope had returned to Rome, Catholic zeal to combat the Reformation of Martin Luther struck terror for enlightened Italians. Many of them died under the torture from the Grand Inquisitor and his zealot henchmen.

The author begins the story of young Lucia Locatelli and her family in 1571 in Verona. An extremely bright child, Lucia discovers Martin Luther’s hidden doctrines in her father’s study. Fired up by her thirst for learning and unfettered young idealism, her fervor sends her family on a terror-stricken path. Her physician father is branded a heretic and imprisoned. To atone, he is sent to the pestilence-ridden Venice. Eventually, Lucia follows him there in hopes of a new beginning.

Lucia’s Renaissance is told in first-person from the few main protagonists. A relatively easy read, the novel’s subject is nevertheless terrifying, and I kept reading in hopes of a better outcome for the Locatellis. Wisely, the author did not romanticize those terrible times when a careless word could spell death.

This is a debut novel for C. L. R. Peterson.

With the annotation about her extensive research, hopefully she will continue writing and pen a more intricate tapestry of those times. I did find the extremely large dropped caps irritating on my Kindle. I was surprised that the one German sentence was mangled. A quick Google search would have given her the perfect “Wer sind Sie?”
Other than that, the book was perfectly edited.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

My Review of "Swift for the Sun,"

a Novel by Karen Bovenmyer 

  This is an excellent fluid read. I obtained a free copy as part of  reviewing it for Helen Hollick's historical fiction review blog -

It easily earned five stars from me as a Discovered Diamond.


Genres: Multicultural & Interracial/Gay Romance

In the beginning, the title “Swift for the Sun” conjured up everything from old sailing ships swiftly following the sun - to other flights of fancy involving smugglers and privateers (which it does). At the end of Bovenmyer’s novel, I realized that I was wrong in assuming it to be a rollicking pirate fable or – as one of its genre is listed as gay romance - a man loving another man; it was so much more (even though I, too, have loved men – but then, I am a woman).

Benjamin Swift (as he introduces himself to us in this first-person account) is young, impetuous and a bit of a bungler who doesn’t listen too well to advice from his more experienced mates. This becomes sadly evident when, as captain of the Sea Swift, he puts his ship squarely on the rocks on cursed Dread Island.

Deeming himself the only survivor of the wreck, the young seafarer is understandably spooked when he finds himself face to face with a blond island savage who masters survival a lot better than our handsome Benjamin. After initial life-threatening quarrels and mutual mistrust, the two men (both being predisposed by nature or circumstance) fall deeply in love.

This is when the author’s mastery of human needs and wants shines. Lust and love are aptly intertwined with Benjamin’s secret hope to be rescued. A storm does bring a ship - and with it terrible trouble brews for the two. Sun could easily “take care” by himself of unwanted intruders into their isolated paradise; but during an ensuing fight, Benjamin feels he needs to prove himself.

That’s when I shouted at my Kindle, “For heaven’s sake, he told you to stay put!” I had become utterly involved in the two protagonists’ fates and desperately wanted them to escape their seemingly inexorable doom clamped on them by their “rescuers.”

Apart from the thrill of exotic seafaring adventure, the novel left me with a much deeper question about loyalty, the bond between two human beings, and the moral choice between killing for freedom or submitting to Man’s laws. “What would any of us have done?”
 * * * * *

Friday, November 10, 2017

Yeah, Don’t Mess with us Sprightly Ladies!

My Review of "Don't Mess with Mrs. Sedgewick"  
by Mary F. Martin 

This was not only a fun read, but should convince the “younger folk” not to discount us sprightly, well-mannered ladies they tend to ignore in their youthful self-importance. If hard pressed – as Mrs. Sedgewick was – we old gals can nimbly spring to action to foil evil perpetrators with aplomb.

Written in an easy style, the book provided me with much-needed chuckles and relief from my usual more serious reading fare. I call the book “delightful.” And I am sticking to it despite its “improbability,” as some reviewers contend.

Not so fast. There was a time when my apartment was broken into. It took me one year to get the robber behind bars simply through tenacious high-heeled legwork by myself; after which three police departments (Boston, Cambridge and Brookline) offered me a job as a detective (I said, "No, thanks").

Henceforth, “Don’t Mess With Mrs. Sedgewick” isn’t that far-fetched – as well as a very enjoyable read.

 Check out Ma4ry Martin's Amazon Author Page for more:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Where’s My Suitcase?

My Review of  
Rare Steak, Red Wine, Hot Tango! 
by Helen Wilkie

This is an interesting, fun travelogue/memoir through Argentina. It also reads like a love letter to Buenos Aires.

This intrepid Canadian writer sets off into the Southern Hemisphere alone (even I – minimally geographically challenged through extensive travel myself – always marvel as I look at my atlas how “far down” it lies on the South American continent).
 During her first visit, the lady falls in love; not with a Latin lothario, but bustling, exciting Buenos Aires - and the Argentine Tango (and a brief video on her website attests she does it well).
 Not content to wander around the urban sprawl, adventures (sprinkled with the few inevitable misadventures) beckon from the countryside, friendships are forged, and always, there is good food with Malbec wine flowing freely. Copious dinners last late into the night to be counteracted the following morning by steaming coffee at busy outdoor caf├ęs (which will also serve something stronger if needed). Now, that’s living!

I thoroughly enjoyed coming along for the journey – if only by virtue of Ms. Wilkie’s lively tales interspersed with photos and her own artistic sketches. At the end of her book, she generously shares websites and videos of her local friends who – she says – would be delighted to be of service when we, the readers, stop being armchair travelers, pack our bags and decide that we can do it, too! That’s what I call an inspiring read.

 Also check out Helen's Amazon page with her entertaining short 11-book series "On the Road with Merry," written as M. H. Wilkie.


We Need Stories Like This

PS: I just downloaded and read this author's Story No 1 of her On the Road with Merry 11-book series (written as M. H. Wilkie). To my delight, it played out in Boston bringing back lively memories when I lived there. The Lost Boy is a heart-warming story we so sorely need these days. 
I recommend it as a delightful short read which left me feeling good.

Friday, October 6, 2017

My Review of Sons of My Fathers

Sons of My Fathers by Michael A. Simpson is based on the author’s own family history and reads almost like a biography. However, I assume that attributes to its characters’ are as the author imagines them and, hence, are fictional in detail; but what great writing bringing this saga alive for the reader.

The cover of a denuded tree strangled by sabotaged lengths of railroad tracks is haunting.

The book begins during 1864, the American Civil War. Baylis Simpson and his family eke out a meager living as sharecroppers in Georgia which, of course, backed the Confederacy. As in all wars, the atrocities play out not only on the battlefield but split this fertile land and its families asunder with obscene travesties against humankind. Baylis Simpson sees his family destroyed. As he and his kin vow vengeance against the murderous rabble taking property and lives that had escaped the Union Army, the Simpsons are caught between the warring lines.

One hundred years later, Baylis’s descendent, young Ron Simpson, becomes a U.S. Army helicopter pilot. He volunteers to serve his country as a medevac pilot in Vietnam. His beliefs and his life are turned upside down when, instead, he is assigned to fly a Huey gunship. He loves his country deeply, but will not serve it by flying this killing machine. There is only one option for him; by taking it, he threatens to destroy not just himself, but his family.

The book’s chapters switch seamlessly from the physical plight and mental turmoil of one generation to the other, and the reader becomes deeply engrossed in the fate of both, while the book’s prose deftly adapts to the tone and language of the times. 

Without hammering it home, it left me with a troubling message: We are not heeding history. Hence, we have learned nothing!
I submitted Sons of My Fathers to Helen Hollick's Discovered Diamond Review site 

where it indeed earned a sparkling and well-deserved place.

Get your Copy at

Just chosen as Book Cover Design of the Month: