Category Archives: Italy

REVIEW {34} VENOM by Fiona Paul

VENOM
SERIES:Secrets of the Eternal Rose | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Belladonna #2
AUTHOR: Fiona Paul

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: October 30th 2012 by Philomel
EDITION: Hardcover, 435 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller, Italy, 2 Star Rating, Philomel, Review
RATING: 2.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.79/5.00 (pre-release)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.





MY THOUGHTS: I adore historical fiction. Anything set in Renaissance Italy really gets me excited to read! Unfortunately, I was let down by this tale. I found there to be some inaccuracies in the setting and time period, as far as what was occurring in the story. These parts didn’t detract from the overall story, however I can see some people turned off by it. While I did notice them, I would not necessarily say it ruined the book for me.

I had trouble connecting with Cass, the main character. I really didn’t feel anything towards her, or what happened to her. If you are a teenage girl of marrying age, engaged to someone, you shouldn’t be out traipsing about with another man, one of a lowly station at that. And – one who creeps around cemeteries at night, lies to you, keeps things from you, etc. I wasn’t a fan of Falco, at all. In fact, I really didn’t like any of the characters. I believe that they were well written, I just didn’t have any characters that I was interested in knowing.

The writing style itself overall was decent, but the story didn’t go anywhere for me. It was one of the slowest plotted books I’ve read, and that definitely affected the overall rating that I gave the book. You really don’t learn anything – except two things that are major factors in the book; who sent Cass the creepy letter and was at the Dubois party whom she danced with; and what Falco does for a living that was his “big secret”. As far as what the Order of the Eternal Rose is? No idea. Cass’s Fiance mentions it really quick in the few last pages of the book, but that’s it. I’m all for leaving some strings untied at the end of the first book of a series, but this one literally left everything untied, and I felt no satisfaction when I finished the last page and closed the book.

“How terrible it must be to be a member of the noble class. So many rules. Such restraint. You must feel like a caged bird, battering its wings against the side of it’s golden prison.”

One thing that I did enjoy about the book, is the overall darkness and creepiness of it. It definitely had that going for it. I am curious to see how the series continues, but I don’t know if I’ll read the actual book, or just other blogger’s reviews. There could be potential if the plot picks up in the second book, and if there is more depth to the characters and some questions are answered.


SIMILAR READS: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin | Gilt by Katherine Longshore | Dark Star by Bethany Frenette | The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkowski

Happy Reading!

Review {22} Changeling

AUTHOR: Philippa Gregory
SERIES: Order of Darkness #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Stormbringer #2 (Expected Publication: June 4th 2013)
PUBLISHED: May 25th 2012 by Simon Pulse
ACQUIRED: Own
EDITION: Hardcover, 256 pages
CATEGORIES: 2012 Release, Did Not Finish, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Italy, Magic, Adventure, Mystery, Paranormal, Simon Pulse, Philipa Gregory, Book #1 in Series
RATING: DNF/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.14/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous – and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year – the end of days.
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft – and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.
Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.
MY THOUGHTS: I hate not finishing books; especially those written by one of my favorite authors of all time. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy any aspects of this short 256-page introduction to Gregory’s Order of Darkness Series.I could not connect to any of the characters; and I found the story line very difficult to not only follow in the beginning but not engaging or interesting at all. 
Events happen quickly at first, when we first meet Luca and read along as he receives his orders after being accused of heresy. We also meet Isolde, whose father has just died and she learns that she isn’t going to inherit his lands after all, because her dishonest, untrustworthy brother has altered (or lied) about the will and sends her to be the Lady Abbess instead. Once Luca arrives at the Abbey, things slow down incredibly. We crawl through the events of Luca questioning all of the nuns, we see how “odd” Isolde and her companion, Ishraq are, and we realize that there may be more to Ishraq than we first thought.

Isolde and Ishraq escape the Abbey, and when Luca decides that his work there is completed, he travels on to his next mission. That isn’t the end of his run-ins with Isolde though. When I decided that I was not going to finish the book, I was on page 180 (of 256) so you can see I’d made it quite far. This is the chain of events up to that point. There was nothing spectacular or incredulous to keep me reading until the end, which is why I made the decision to go ahead and mark this one as a ‘Did Not Finish’.

The writing style was not the same that I remember from past novels by Gregory, and I think that as well is partly why I wasn’t able to complete the book. I believe that it, too, did not feel like a YA novel. The characters, even though it is an historical novel, did not feel like young adults, and they did not feel very developed to me. The characters were flat and lacked any depth, in my opinion.

WHO WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO: Fans of Philippa Gregory and those who enjoy Medieval Period Historical Novels.

SIMILAR READS: The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges | Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame | Debutantes by Cora Harrison | Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb | Ladies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philipa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (Now known as the War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author.
Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visit her website at www.PhilippaGregory.com
Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens of The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.
A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.
Visit her Facebook page.

Happy Reading!
Laura