Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Botticelli's Bastard

Book Synopsis:

Art restorer Giovanni Fabrizzi is haunted by an unsigned renaissance portrait. Obsessed to learn the truth of its origin, he becomes increasingly convinced the painting could be the work of one of history’s greatest artists, which if true, would catapult its value to the stratosphere. But in learning of the painting’s past, he is faced with a dilemma. He believes the portrait was stolen during the greatest art heist in history—the Nazi plunder of European artwork. If true and a surviving relative of the painting’s rightful owner were still alive, Giovanni, in all good conscience, would have to give up the potential masterpiece. His obsession with the portrait puts a strain on his new marriage, and his son thinks his father has lost his mind for believing an unremarkable, unsigned painting could be worth anyone’s attention. Regardless, Giovanni persists in his quest of discovery and exposes far more truth than he ever wanted to know.

Author's Bio:

Photo credit: Nathan Sternfeld

Stephen Maitland-Lewis is an award-winning author, a British attorney, and a former international investment banker. He held senior positions in the City of London, Kuwait, and on Wall Street before moving to California in 1991. He owned a luxury hotel and a world-renowned restaurant and was also the Director of Marketing of a Los Angeles daily newspaper. Maitland-Lewis is a jazz aficionado and a Board Trustee of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York. A member of PEN and the Author’s Guild, Maitland-Lewis is also on the Executive Committee of the International Mystery Writers Festival.

His novel Hero on Three Continents received numerous accolades, and Emeralds Never Fade won the 2012 Benjamin Franklin Award for Historical Fiction and the 2011 Written Arts Award for Best Fiction. His novel Ambition was a 2013 USA Best Book Awards and 2014 International Book Awards finalist and won first place for General Fiction in the 2013 Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards. Maitland-Lewis and his wife, Joni Berry, divide their time between their homes in Beverly Hills and New Orleans.

Connect with Stephen: Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

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My Review

This book is very different to what I was expecting. I thought it would be an Art historian researching the history of a painting. To a point it does that yet it is so much more. There is the intricate relationship between Gio, who  is still grieving the loss of his first wife, and his second wife and son. The mystery and suspense is well done and takes the reader to the Nazi occupation of France via modern day Germany, Paris and of course Florence. There are parts of the novel that take it from being a serious historical account to bordering on the ludicrous yet somehow through the writing the author manages to pull it off. Just! Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of the factual style to depict something that stretches the readers' (and Gio’s family’s) credulity to the limit. I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil it but well worth a read.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Death Logs In


Death Logs In (Book Two)

Some of the most powerful people in the world want to kill Michael Nicholas. Only his brother, Alex can save him - the problem is that Alex is dead.

It's been almost a year since Alex Nicholas, a Queens based underworld Boss, was gunned down. After Alex’s brutal murder, Michael inherited not only his brother’s business – but his enemies. Michael is now a key player in a world he once feared. By day, he is the head of a Fortune 500 company by night, the CEO of Tartarus, one of the worlds largest illegal gambling operations.

Before his death, Alex invested heavily in breakthrough artificial intelligence software so that he could live forever. It worked. In his virtual form, Alex can communicate with Michael and monitor information - and people - in ways the NSA would envy.

It is Alex who discovers Michael’s life is in danger. He detects plots that reach from the darkest corners of Queens, to the highest officials in the Vatican - and they all want Michael dead.

Michael is now in a race to save his life, but he is never alone - Alex is there to help him navigate through this maze of life and death. Also protecting Michael from the forces closing in around him is Sindy Steele, a beautiful - and lethal bodyguard.

How far is Michael willing to go to save his own life – and that of his family? Guided only by a familiar face on a computer screen, will the information Alex discovers allow Michael to go from being the hunted to the hunter?

Author's Bio:

E.J. Simon was the CEO of GMAC Global Relocation Services (a division of GM) and the Managing Director of Douglas Elliman, the largest real estate company in NY.

He is a consultant to many leading private equity firms and has held senior level positions at prominent financial services companies.

He is a world traveler, food enthusiast and lives in Connecticut. Death Never Sleeps is his first novel. His second novel,Death Logs In, will be available in October 2014.

Connect with him:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Book Trailer:

Book Trailer:

Where to buy the book:

Barnes and Noble
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My Review

This is a thriller with a difference and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the first in the series as this was easy to follow and gripped me from the start. The subject of living on in cyber space fascinated me and there was plenty of suspense too as we wait to see if the hero can outwit those trying to kill him. Some great characters too. However, I still can’t decide if the writer just has a vivid imagination or if this is the future of things to come? You’ll have to read it and decide for yourself.  Just one gripe – the book ends on a real cliffhanger and the sequel isn’t out until January 2015!


Monday, 17 November 2014

Venice in the moonlight

About the book

A Story of Vengeance, Forgiveness, and Love 

After her husband's untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family's villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin-a father she hasn't spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently has died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father's last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead-and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.

Author's Bio:

Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel Cera's Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.
Connect with her: Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Where to buy the book:

Welcome to the blog, Elizabeth.

Can you tell us what prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?
I have been a technical writer and editor most of my adult life, but I didn’t try my hand at fiction until 2008 when I started writing my first novel, Cera’s Place. One day, my girls had been discussing careers at school and they asked what I had wanted to be when I was their age. I said an author. They said why aren’t you? I started writing fiction to show them that you shouldn’t give up on your dreams.

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?
A young widow discovers her father’s murderer is related to the man she’s falling in love with and must decide between vengeance, forgiveness, and love.

Did you do any research for the book?
Years ago, I had traveled to Italy and fell in love with it. When I decided to use Venice as a setting, I hauled out my photo album to refresh my memory. I also read the book, A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant, which is a true love story set in the 18th century. It helped me with historical details. I also, of course, relied on the internet. I found a copy of Casanova’s memoirs online, which was extremely interesting.

What are you working on next? Do you have a WIP?
I am working on a contemporary romance titled, First Crush, Last Love. Here is the description:
Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening all over again at her high school reunion. Lee Archer is The One Who Got Away. Despite Jessie’s best efforts, he only wanted to be friends. Fifteen years later, things are different. Lee wants more, but first Jessie has to unload some baggage—the biggest one being a psycho ex-husband. Will Jessie learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?
Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.

What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?
The best part has been meeting people through social media. I am shy, so communicating via a computer is easier for me than face-to-face. I have made so many new friends since I started writing fiction. The worst part is getting a bad review. I try not to take it personally because I don’t like every book I read, but sometimes the comments really hurt.

Do you plot your novels or allow them to develop as you write?
For my first novel, Cera’s Place, I just wrote with very little outlining. For Venice in the Moonlight, I did an extensive outline and followed a traditional 4-part story structure. In my current WIP, I seem to be doing a hybrid of both methods. I think I like the hybrid best.

Have you taken any creative writing courses and would you recommend them?
I haven’t taken any writing courses since college, but I follow several writing blogs and have read books on creative writing. I also have my novels professionally edited. I highly recommend having an impartial professional critique your writing. You can’t edit your own writing, and my editor has taught me a lot. Even though I am an editor and technical writer in my professional life, I can always learn more.

What book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I just finished Rick Yancey’s The Infinite Sea, which is book 2 of the Fifth Wave trilogy. It’s written in first person narrative and changes character viewpoint, so I had to quickly re-read book 1 to figure out what was going on in book 2 (I have a terrible memory). I really liked both books though – 5 stars. I’m looking forward to the movie in 2016.

My Review

A delightful book in which the author captures the essence of Venice in the eighteenth century. The style is easy to read as the author carries you along from the first page. I loved the characters, both good and bad, and enjoyed how the plot all came together at the end. I really felt for Marietta living in a man’s world yet showing great strength of character. The romance is extremely well done and it just shows that it doesn’t need to be graphic to be steamy. If you like Italy, romantic heroes or history you’ll love this book.


The Christmas Spirit


Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.
Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.
Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?
Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.
Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?
The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?



Susan Buchanan has written three novels in the chicklit and contemporary fiction genres: Sign of the Times, The Dating Game and The Christmas Spirit. She lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony, and their baby daughter. She is currently working on her fourth and fifth novels, What If and another Christmas themed book, both due to be released in 2015.
Blog -
Twitter - susan_buchanan
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The Christmas Spirit - (UK) & (US)
Sign of the Times - (UK) (US)
The Dating Game - (UK) (US)


2 Ecopies of Susan’s book THE DATING GAME

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My Review

If you’re looking for a lovely warm read to put you in a Christmassy mood, then this is the one for you. It’s light-hearted and full of that magical sparkle that means it will quickly become a Christmas favourite. It’s not sugary sweet yet somehow it’s heartwarming and I loved the way that Susan Buchanan takes a group of characters, none of whom are particularly looking forward to Christmas for various reasons, and shows us how a little kindness from a stranger can change their lives. This is a book that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.