Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: You Were There Before My Eyes by Maria Riva

Release Date: October 10, 2017

A young woman, desperate to escape the dullness and rigidity of her rural, early 20th century Italian village and dazzled by stories of America, marries the first young man from her village to return there looking for a wife. He sweeps her off to Detroit, where they seek the American Dream.

I really struggled with this one because the dialogue was terrible, there wasn't much of a plot, the characters were flat, and the author liked to head-hop. While there's nothing wrong with a character novel that doesn't have much of a plot, or a plot driven novel that has somewhat one-dimensional characters - but there has to be a strength in one of them and this has neither. Add to it the cringe-worthy dialogue and the head-hopping narrative, and I just feel like it was poorly written.

It was disappointing because like many Italian-Americans, this story is one very similar to those of my own ancestors: from a rural Italian village, came to America in the late 19th/early 20th century as a young family seeking better opportunities for their future and their children's. It did reflect much of the cultural history I'd found in my genealogy research, but that's about the only good thing I can think to say about this novel. I so wanted to love this - hell, I would have settled for just liking it - but I couldn't.

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Review: Mistress of Rome (Empress of Rome #1) by Kate Quinn

A Jewish slave and a troubled gladiator fight for their lives and happiness against all the odds and more than one enemy who would bring them down.

I felt like this had a little bit of a slow start - not that it was boring, I just thought it took a little while for the plot to really kick in. But once it did... wow, did it kick in! Kate Quinn is one of those authors who can master both compelling characterization and thrilling plots.

There's so much going on, the plot takes a couple turns I wasn't really expecting, and there's so many interesting characters that you'll either love to love, or love to hate.

I definitely can't wait to read the rest of this series. I don't know why I waited so long to pick this one up (oh, yes, I do - it's because there's too many books in the world, not enough time!).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Review: The Orphan of Florence by Jeanne Kalogridis

Release Date: October 3, 2017

This fast paced novel involving Jewish mysticism follows a foundling pickpocket who winds up apprenticing with a Jewish magician in Renaissance Florence, not realizing he holds the key to her past, or what kind of danger she's landed herself in when she gets involved in the war between Lorenzo de Medici and the Pope.

It seemed a little unrealistic at first, but then things come together. Well written and plot driven, the action, espionage, and mystery keeps you wanting to know more. I liked the characters but wasn't extremely attached to them - sometimes the main character was a little slow to realize what was going on. I felt like the mysticism was a little heavy handed but I guess that's just Kalogridis' style. Over all, a quick, enjoyable read, but don't expect too much from it.

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

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