Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review - The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin

Happy Release Day!


TITLE:    The King's Agent
AUTHOR:    Donna Russo Morin
INFO:    Paperback, Fiction, 418 pages
PUBLISHED:   Kensington, 2012
SOURCE:   Received from Publisher for Review and Blog Tour



FROM GOODREADS:   The King’s Agent is based loosely on the life of Battista della Palla-a patriotic plunderer, a religious rogue-of the 16th century, a lifelong friend to the great Michelangelo. 


As the cloistered ward of the Marquess of Mantua, Lady Aurelia is a woman with a profound duty, and a longing for adventure. In search of a relic intended for the King of France, Battista and Aurelia cross the breathtaking landscape of Renaissance Italy. Clues hide in great works of art, political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge, those that mirror the passages of Dante's Divine Comedy. It is an adventurous quest with undercurrents of the supernatural, powers that could change the balance of supremacy throughout Europe.

MY TAKE:   A fun book that I was very happy to get a chance to review. It is a historical romp set in Italy of the 1500s with a thief/hero/mystery man and a beautiful, secretive woman at the heart of the tale.  This doesn't even begin to describe it though..


A lot of ingredients and flavors spice up this engaging story from the beginning.  There are touches of fantasy, history and romance mixed in with a healthy helping of adventure in the vein of "Indiana Jones", "National Treasure" and "The DaVinci Code".  The references to various masterpieces like Dante's "The Divine Comedy" and appearances of such august persons as Michelangelo add lovely substance to a well-written fictional tale.  The real historical backdrop of Italy's changing political and religious scene sets the stage for many twists and turns that the reader won't see coming.  


I enjoyed the main characters of Battista and Aurelia.  The reader will become invested in their lives and their progress as they hunt down an elusive and legendary piece of artwork.  They have such dissimilar lives and backgrounds and yet they connect at a deep level.  The author did a great job of laying the groundwork for their paths to intersect and converge.  Their journey was peppered with a lot of ups and downs and other colorful characters.  I wanted to hate Federico, the marquess of Mantua, but he proves himself to be true.  As do Battista's best friend Frado and their wild bunch of merry men. 


Ms. Morin is very adept at describing the surroundings and details of what the characters are seeing and experiencing.  It makes it very easy for the reader to be right there with Battista and Aurelia as they traipse across the country in search of the elusive prize!  She also keeps you guessing with well-placed clues peppered throughout the story.  I did manage to figure part of the mystery out before the big reveal, but it was well worth the journey.  


A very helpful and thought-inspiring reader/discussion guide is included at the end of the book.  It would be great for a book club as this book has so many elements that any reader should be able to find something that resonates with them in this story.  

Out of 5 JEWELS, I give it:

The King's Agent is out TODAY and available at most retailers including:

Donna Russo Morin

Donna Russo Morin was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.


Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing   mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse.   Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book scene, a little known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.


After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
In addition to writing and teaching writing, Donna has worked as a model and actor since the age of seventeen, when she did her first television commercial for Sears. Since then she has appeared in more than thirty television spots and print ads, everything from changing the oil in her car (that was acting) to modeling fur coats. She also appeared in three episodes of Showtime’s THE BROTHERHOOD, as well as in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED.


Donna lives peacefully, close to the beautiful shoreline of Rhode Island that she loves so much, with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.


Connect with Donna:  websiteFacebookTwitter


I'd like to thank the author and Amy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for including me in this tour.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Review - Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact by A.J. Hartley


AUTHOR:    A.J. Hartley
INFO:    Paperback, Fiction, 431 pages
PUBLISHED:   Penguin Razorbill, 2011
SOURCE:   Received from Publisher for Review

FROM GOODREADS:  
 Eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright has spent his whole life in a tiny town in England. So when he is forced to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with his aunt, he knows things will be different - but what he finds there is beyond even his wildest imaginings!


Darwen discovers an enchanting world through the old mirror hanging in his closet - a world that holds as many dangers as it does wonders. Scrobblers on motorbikes with nets big enough to fit a human boy. Gnashers with no eyes, but monstrous mouths full of teeth. Flittercrakes with bat-like bodies and the faces of men. Along with his new friends Rich and Alexandra, Darwen becomes entangled in an adventure and a mystery that involves the safety of his entire school. They soon realize that the creatures are after something in our world - something that only human children possess.

MY TAKE:   I love being taken on new adventures.  Darwen Arkwright takes us on a grand one with his new American friends.  In Darwen, A.J. Wright has created a very likable and relatable hero.  Darwen is truly a fish out of the water when he's dropped into a new life in America.  The proper young English boy is having a hard time fitting in when he accidentally sees a strange creature in the mall and follows it into a dusty old mirror shop.  Little does he know that the odd owner of the shop will soon set him on a dangerous and mysterious path to a world on the other side of a magical mirror.  


This is a fast-paced and fun story that will appeal to adventurous explorers of all ages.  I especially think that boys of about 9 or older will get a kick out of the various creatures and gadgets that Darwen comes across. Wannabe archaeologist Rich is a stalwart friend to Darwen as well as an interesting character on his own.  Girls will enjoy the eccentric Alexandra as she becomes a surprisingly stout supporter of the awkward Darwen.  I was quite engrossed in the tale and enjoyed imagining the creatures that the author described. 


This story is destined to be a classic and definitely has a place on the keeper shelf.  I highly recommend this story, especially if you or the kids like jumping into another world for a while.  Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact would also make a great gift this holiday season. I have a couple of young readers in mind to receive a copy.


Out of 5 JEWELS, I give it:

Get your copy:


Image and video hosting by TinyPic


~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veteran's Day Blog Hop Giveaway

A Salute to Veterans




With this Veteran's Day Blog Hop, we are honoring the selfless service by veterans to our country.  In keeping with this, we'd like to introduce Jessica Scott ~ active duty Army Captain, full time Mom and Author!  We also salute her husband who is currently deployed on his final tour with the Army as a First Sergeant. Thank you both for all you do and thank you to ALL of the veterans ~ you are appreciated.

Jessica and Romance at Random's Loveswept line are promoting the first book in her new Coming Home series:




Because of You: 
A Loveswept Contemporary Military Romance  

From the war-torn streets of Baghdad to the bittersweet comforts of the home front, two wounded hearts navigate the battlefield of coming home from war in this explosive eBook original from newcomer Jessica Scott.

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again—until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.

Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels—for the first time in a long time—like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty—it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected—her deepest desire..

Each of the following 25 blogs will be giving away a FREE ebook copy of Because of You.  Be one of the first readers to enjoy this powerful love story.  It is easy to enter ~ just comment below or on any of the participating blogs.  Stack your odds by visiting all of the sites and entering their drawings.  That's a total of 25 chances to WIN!  Drawing ends 11/13/11 at midnight PST.  Be sure to leave your email address with your comment.

If you don't want to wait (and why would you?) you can get your own copy:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


~~~~~ Disclaimer:  All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own.  I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links.  I may receive books in  order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review - only a completely honest one.  Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.