Tag: magical realism

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: The Violinist’s Apprentice – Isabella Mancini

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?


The Violinist’s Apprentice

Goodreads – The Violinist’s Apprentice

A dark journey through time.

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.


Purchase Links –  Amazon UK     Amazon US


My Thoughts…

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)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.



Author Bio

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


Social Media Links –

Twitter: @IsabellaManci10.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ManciniIsabella1

Facebook Group: Books, Music and the Past

Amazon page for Isabella Mancini: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Isabella-Mancini/e/B08127KJJW/

Amazon page for Olga Swan:





First Lines Friday – 13/12/2019

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to my First Lines Friday post! I love writing these and either sampling the beginnings of books still to be read or re-reading old ones! Today’s featured book is one that I read in May 2018… I wish I had read it at Christmas. It’s a historical fiction novel that, for reasons that will come apparent, has a very festive vibe.

Can you guess what it is?


The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open! Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat…

If, at a certain hour on a certain winter night, you too had been wandering the warren between New Bond Street and Avery Row, you might have seen it for yourself. One moment there would be darkness, only the silence of shops stuttered up and closed for business. The next, the rippling snowflakes would part to reveal a mews you had not noticed before – and, along that mews, a storefront garlanded in lights. Those lights might be nut pinpricks of white, no different to the snowflakes, but they would still draw your eye. Lights like these captivate and refract the darkness. Lights like these can bewitch the most cynical of souls.

Watch out, because here one such soul comes, hurrying out of the night.



Shall we find out what it is?


The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

Goodreads – The Toymakers

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…


Purchase links:  Waterstones     Amazon UK     Amazon US


Did you enjoy today’s extract of The Toymakers? Is it on your list to read? Let me know in the comments!




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