Hello readers! I’m back with another book review today, as promised. If like me, you enjoy time-travel blended with historical fiction, then this will be the second review in as many days that may be of interest to you! Where yesterday’s featured book encompassed many well known time periods throughout history, today’s featured book gives us a detailed, beautiful insight into Italy in 1660. The Violinist’s Apprentice is a dark, beautiful and intriguing novel encompassing time-travel, historical fiction and magical realism!
As always, I like to take the opportunity to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and inviting me to join the tour. As part of this tour there is also a giveaway being hosted, so don’t forget to check out the details below!
So, would you like to find out the details of the book?
It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch. How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.
The Violinist’s Apprentice is told predominantly from the viewpoint of Clementina. She is sent back in time to retrieve an invaluable artefact from the period – a Stradivari violin. A novice player of the violin herself, she becomes apprenticed to none other than the creator, Antonio Stradivarius himself.
The first thing that that really impressed me with this book is the descriptions! I’m not the sort of person that loves to travel; although Italy is the country I haven’t been to that I would like to visit. If I hadn’t gone into this book that way inclined already then I certainly would be by the time I finished! It’s easy to step into our MC Clemetina’s shoes and share the sights, smells and experiences she lives through.
I like that the gap in science and technology was bridged by a sort of magic, based loosely on the early understandings of science and chemistry. Otherwise, this would have been a very difficult tale to write and get to a conclusion. It incorporates a bit of magical realism into the narrative but I personally really enjoyed this. Something else I enjoyed is the variety of characters and the diversity in the interactions between them. I do feel there is a lot to learn about some of the characters though, which may be addressed if this is a series. There are a number of unexplained events and interactions that I feel could hint at a series being made of this, or otherwise need elaborating on more.
Italy in that period has its beauty and lavishness, but it does have its darker side too. The story touches on the previous devastation caused by civil war, and the consequences of plague and illness in the presence of many orphaned children. The tale isn’t painted through rose-tinted glasses by any means, but rather adds greater depth and background to a realistic portrayal of Italy at that time. Overall the historical element to the novel is pretty authentic.
Giveaway to Win a signed paperback of An Englishwoman in America (Open INT)
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Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books. She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France, but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.
Previous books by Olga Swan:
An Englishwoman in America, From Paradis to Perdition, Pensioners in Paradise, The Mazurek Express,Lamplight, Vichyssoise, 3rd Degree Murder
It’s the 7th January and I am only just publishing my TBR now! Yes, I’m later than usual, but I had some really fun posts I wanted to share that rounded up 2019 and introduced 2020. In fact, I still have one post left to share! If you want to see which books I rate the best of 2019, keep an eye out on my blog over the next couple of days.
For now though, let’s take a look at which books I am kick-starting 2020 with!
On a group trip to Rome, musician Clementina is whirled back in time to 17th century Italy.
Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Italy becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. They kiss under an orange tree, and she persuades him to help a poor young boy from the nearby orphanage.
But people begin to notice just how ‘strange’ the young woman at the artist’s side is. She must be a witch!
Meanwhile, in present-day Scotland, her brother suffers a life-threatening accident, and in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor frets about global warming.
Can Clementina find a way to return to the 21st century?
It feels weird talking in the sense of “I’m going to be reading this book in January” because, well, I already have! I read this within the first few days of January as I am taking part in a blog tour in a week’s time.
I’m looking forward to sharing my review of this one; it combined an element of science-fiction, time-travel, and historical fiction. Previously, I have really enjoyed how these genres work together and this was no exception for The Violinist’s Apprentice.
Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledonian warriors and the mighty Ancient Roman legions. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or, should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been enslaved by the Romans?
The Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island, but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.
The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…
In Book 4, the tales of the Garrigill Clan come to readers of the series via members of their second generation of Brigantes – their fight against the oppressive forces of the Ancient Roman Legions and their General Agricola a continuing and unending struggle.
Agricola’s Bane is my current read at the time of drafting this post. Again, this read is in preparation for a blog tour which I am taking part in a little later this month. This is the last book of The Celtic Fervour series and I’m at that point where I want to read it to find out how the author concludes events but I don’t want it to end at the same time! You know what I mean?
Her husband wants her tucked away in a psychiatric ward. His business partner wants her dead.
Exclusive Paris art gallery owner Isabella Armond’s life spins out of control when she discovers her husband Dr. Adrien Armond has been brokering and trafficking in black market organs and using her beloved gallery to launder the money. Now Europol believes she is a key part of the conspiracy that destroyed Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey and St. Peter’s Basilica.
In a race against time, Isabella must use all the resources at her disposal to clear her name, outwit her husband and salvage her life and business.
I have read a number of books by K. J. McGillick and I have enjoyed every single one to date. You guessed it, this is another read and review for a blog tour. That said, I do have a little longer for this as my post is due towards the end of the month! All I can say is thank goodness I started my blog tour reading last month; otherwise I’d be in trouble at this point!!
I love the sound of this particular novel. It sounds so sinister, and makes you wonder who you can really trust!
Since it was perfected in 2900, time travel has been reserved for an elite, highly trained few. However, on certain occasions, a Corrector is needed to rectify a mistake in the past.
Do your job well, and you’ll go down in history. Fail, and you will be erased from Time . . .
In the far future, a convicted criminal is given a chance at redemption. The Corrector Program at Tempus University is sending Isobel back in time, to the year 1270, to rewrite history.
Her mission? To save the crown of France.
If she follows the Corrector’s Handbook everything should run smoothly. But soon, Isobel finds herself accompanying a hot-headed young noble on his way to fight the infidel in Tunis: a battle Isobel knows is fated to be lost.
Isobel must fulfil her duty, knowing she can never return to her time, knowing one wrong move can doom the future, or doom her to be burned as a witch . . .
The first in an exciting new time-slip series, from the author of the action-packed Time for Alexander series, Jennifer Macaire. A CROWN IN TIME will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first page . . .
Jennifer Macaire is also fantastic at bringing together historical fiction and science-fiction. This time last year I was introduced to her as an author and since I have enjoyed a number of books in her The Time for Alexander series.
I am looking forward to A Crown in Time as, like The Time for Alexander series, it combines science-fiction and historical fiction. I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few time-travel related novels lately, so I have high hopes for this one too!
The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.
For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.
However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…
Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order–an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.
I set myself a challenge this year to take part in the Beat the Backlist challenge. My aim for the year is to read the 25 oldest items on my TBR (minimum). Gardens of the Moon is number one – and the oldest! Added to my TBR in December 2014… it really is about time I got to it. I have heard amazing reviews of it too, so I’ll be getting stuck in very soon!
Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.
Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.
One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.
After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.
The Alloy of Law is another candidate for my Beat the Backlist challenge! I have a lot of Brandon Sanderson books making up this challenge, so I am trying to spread them out as best as I can.
The Alloy of Law is a second Mistborn series; it has been years since I read the first one! It might be wise to brush myself up on what happened in it, but not essential. It’s set much later than the first series, so it shouldn’t make too much difference that I read the others ages ago!
Isaac Beringer knows the thesis he penned during his psychotic fit was utterly absurd and he was right to be laughed out of academia. Yet decades later, he finds himself summoned to the United States by Elias Cohen, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar technological giant who just happens to be his biggest fan. Elias may be beautiful and brilliant, but Isaac knows he must also be extremely batty to consider Isaac’s thesis the greatest scientific work of the 21st century. He soon finds out how deep the rabbit hole goes; a rabbit hole that houses a sprawling neural network of servers designed to emulate human learning, human corpses 3D-printed with flesh and blood, and a monumental amount of effort to resurrect one particular person from the dead. And Elias isn’t even his only fan.
Isaac might have shaken off his insanity, but unfortunately, the world around him has just fallen in love with it.
I suspect this will overlap into February, but my last read of the month is one I was asked to review by the author. His request came in after reviewing another science-fiction book, Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs.
Again, this one has a definite science-fiction theme. Maybe I can’t classify this as a lesser-read genre anymore. Anyway, I was really intrigued by the synopsis so I am grateful Vale Zalecki approached me to ask for a review.
It’s a good job I feel motivated with the New Year and a fresh start because I have plenty of reading to be getting on with this month!
Good evening readers! It’s the end of another week and time for another Sunday Summary post.
With Christmas over, I’m now back and enjoying the fresh start that comes with New Year! My first post of the week, year and decade too focussed on my goals and reading aspirations for 2020! I have really enjoyed reading other bloggers reading goals for the New Year as well.
On Friday I shared my review of 2019; the books I read and whether I met the goals I set myself. I didn’t complete both of them, but I managed the main one! Again, I’ve read quite a few of these posts by other bloggers too. They must be a popular topic as I have had more likes on that post than a lot of posts I have written previously! So, thank you guys!
Last week things had been pretty quiet on the reading front, as I was spending a lot of time with family over the festive period. This week, however, has been a COMPLETELY different story! Sorry guys, this is a long section!
In last week’s Sunday Summary, I shared my current read at the time, Million Eyes. I was only a few percent through the book and mentioned that I needed to get my skates on with it. It’s safe to say I got my skates on – I finished the book within two days and just before the end of 2019!
The next book on my list is one I was hoping to finish in December, but ended up overlapping into January… just! After reading Million Eyes I started Fires of the Dead by Jed Herne. As a novella, it isn’t too long a book, although still plenty that there is ample storyline to it. This is a nice short fantasy story with a variety of characters, an interesting magic system and an unexpected ending. I really enjoyed reading it!
I quickly moved on to my first official read of January, although I haven’t published my list yet… soon friends! The Violinist’s Apprentice is the next unread book on my list of upcoming blog tours. And yeah, I’ve read this one in its entirety this week too. It combines a couple of genres I have enjoyed together before: science-fiction (time travel) and historical fiction. The Violinist’s Apprentice has a well-developed protagonist, beautifully descriptive narrative and a fast-paced plot, so I really enjoyed this one too!
Finally, I’ll briefly mention my current read, which I started this morning. Those that follow my blog may be aware that I have been reading and reviewing Nancy Jardine’s Celtic Fervour series of books. I’ve just started the last book of the series and I’m currently 16% through this book.
Now… onto the audiobooks! On Friday I finished listening to Cilka’s Journey and oh my gosh, I’ll have a lot of fantastic things to say when it’s time to review it! I loved it. It’s a terrible story and as with The Tattooist of Auschwitz, is based on a real woman’s tragic story. It focuses on a Jewish woman who is imprisoned in Auschwitz/Birkenau. Being a young 16-year-old girl in such a place, you can only imagine what happened to her there. She is then imprisoned after the war for, “sleeping with the enemy”… like she had a choice! Terrible story, but well written!
This is the last one… I promise! After finishing Cilka’s Journey, I started listening to Darkdawn! I haven’t listened to much though.
I have read a couple of posts this week that have prompted a couple of additions to my To Be Read pile.
The first book is The Keepers by John Marrs; I think the premise of the story is really interesting and relevant in an increasingly technological world. As a new release this year, there isn’t a published cover for it yet.
The second book is non-fiction and may just help with my blogging. Perhaps not too. There are mixed reviews as to whether it’s helpful or not, but I guess it depends on how experienced a blogger you are. I don’t profess to know everything and/or do what’s best in terms of marketing it. I just write what I want and when I want to and if people like it, then that’s great! Maybe I’ll learn something new?
I have quite a few blog posts to schedule in next week before the main onslaught of blog tours begin.
It’s already several days into January and I haven’t as yet shared my TBR for January! I know I’m late, but I wanted to get my end of year review/ New Year posts out of the way first! If you are keen to find what I am reading this month, I’m sharing the list on Tuesday.
An additional post I have promised to share is my Favourite Reads of 2019. I have seen quite a few of these style posts by other bloggers, for best and worst books. I haven’t read any “bad” books in 2019, so I am just going to share a “best books” post on Thursday.
The first of my blog tour posts will be shared on Friday. I have been promoting a number of Rachel Churcher’s Battle Ground series books. Friday’s post is for the latest in the series, Victory Day.
As always, I’ll be rounding off the week with my Sunday Summary post!
That was a long one, but I can finally say that’s all from me in this week’s Sunday Summary post! What have you been reading? What resolutions have you set yourself for 2020? Let me know in the comments!