#ThrowbackThurday ~ The Vatican Princess – A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner #Historical Fiction #AudiobookReview

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week it’s the turn of another audiobook.  The Vatican Princess – A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia, written by C.W. Gortner and narrated by Julia Whelan, it was originally published in 2016. 

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The Vatican Princess ~ A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner #Audio #Histfic @CWGortner

  • 25614810Audiobook Review
  • Author: C.W. Gortner
  • Performed by Julia Whelan
  • Released: February 2016 by Random House Audio
  • Category: Historical Fiction
  • five-stars

For fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, a gripping novel that follows the extraordinary life of young Lucrezia Borgia, the legendary Renaissance Pope Alexander’s beautiful daughter. Was she the heartless seductress of legend? Or merely an unsuspecting pawn in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and her own survival?

There are so so many books out there on the Borgias, Lucrezia in particular, you might be tempted to wonder… why another one? This is an approach I haven’t seen before. Granted, I haven’t read a huge amount on the subject and what I did read was many years ago. I do, however, remember being fascinated by the stories of one of the most infamous families in European history, and so when this audiobook became available, narrated by the wonderful Julia Whelan, I chose it without hesitation. I haven’t read C.W. Gortner before but after this I will definitely be looking for more of his books. Continue reading

Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces ~ Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #5

  • KittyHawk5Author: Iain Reading
  • Published: February 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Young Adult, Adventure, Mystery
  • four-half-stars

Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces is the eagerly anticipated fifth instalment of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency book series. This series features the intrepid teenage seaplane pilot and amateur detective Kitty Hawk as she continues in the footsteps of Nancy Drew and Amelia Earhart on her epic flight around the world.

As with the previous books in the series, this new installment is perfect for firing the imaginations of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history, this exhilarating adventure will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they attempt to help Kitty Hawk try and solve the extraordinarily bizarre Mystery of the Masterpieces.

After her adventures in London and Ireland Kitty is on her way to Rome to meet Charlie, the friend she made during her escapade in the Yukon. No sooner is Kitty on Italian soil than she and Charlie find themselves involved in a very mysterious and alarming set of circumstances. Enjoying an after dinner ice cream they are swept up in a chase to apprehend a pickpocket, and literally run into Matteo and Vega, upsetting Matteo’s cart full of walnuts.

Charlie’s scraped and bloodied knee necessitates them going to Matteo and Vega’s house where the mystery of the masterpieces begins. Kitty discovers a painting by Van Gogh, which has been hanging on the wall for years, unknown as such to Matteo and his sisters and the first of many with questionable ownership and/or stolen by the Nazis during WW2. 

The painting showed a view from the sand dunes out towards a turbulent scene of high winds and rough seas. Along the shoreline, a scattered group of bystanders watched as a sailing ship was pulled ashore through a violent surf of crashing waves.

Events spiral as Kitty, Charlie and their new friends are startled by an intruder, find a secret room with a radio receiver and discover there is an unbelievable amount of stolen artwork worth millions. Trying to break seemingly impossible codes and follow the clues takes them all over Europe by way of Salzburg, Vienna, Munich, Bolzano and Nuremberg. 

As always, Iain Reading describes the countries and places vividly and interestingly. Kitty and Charlie’s visit to the site which once housed the Nazi Concentration Camp of Dachau gave me chills. The lingering atmosphere of horror and sadness is tangible. The story is complemented and strengthened with the addition of lots of information woven into the narrative, and the threads of historical facts in the basis of the plot. The ‘Some Further Reading’ section at the end of the book is full of documentation relevant to places, occurrences and events in the book, with links for further exploration.

Another captivating and entertaining adventure, rich in details and fascinating facts, with a friendly and enthusiastic heroine. Kitty’s character is evolving, the more she learns of the world and people, from both a good and bad perspective. I enjoyed Charlie’s return as a main character and the relationship between him and Kitty, considering their initial introduction at the beginning of the series. The ending leaves some unanswered questions and unsolved mysteries which adds to Kitty’s credibility. Maybe they will be resolved as Kitty continues on her round the world trip… or possibly not. Awaiting Kitty’s next adventure…..  

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

My thanks to Kelsey McBride from Book Publicity Services for sending me a copy of the book for review.

About the author

IainReadingIain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. He has published 5 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series.

Don’t forget to check out the latest happenings in the world of Kitty Hawk at http://www.kittyhawkworld.com and it you’re interested also head over to www.secretworldonline.com and check out some of the songs that I write and record in my spare time in an effort to try and convince people that I am much busier than I actually am.

For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kittyhawkworld

Excerpt from Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces

PROLOGUE 

There Has To Be A Rationale Explanation… 

It was the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life. 

With my skin crawling with goose bumps, I listened as the psychopathic tinkling song of a child’s music box quickly faded into the high-pitch hiss of static and was quickly replaced by a sound that brought new meaning to the phrase of having one’s blood run cold. My knees literally went weak at just the sound of it, threatening to collapse under me like watery rubber. 

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, I thought to myself over and over again as my mind raced to find some explanation for the completely bizarre and otherworldly sounds that I was hearing. There has to be a rational explanation for this. This is real life, not a horror movie. There has to be something that somehow explains this! 

These were all reasonable assumptions, of course, but what I was hearing was so completely fantastical that it seemed to defy all attempts at finding a sensible or logical explanation. 

I closed my eyes for an instant as the room began to swim dizzily out of focus around me. My heart was beating so fast that my brain was simply overwhelmed by sensory input and it took me a second or two to recover from the wave of sudden lightheaded vertigo that had washed over me. 

This can’t be happening, I told myself. Of course it was happening, but my brain simply refused to accept that it was real and the resulting disorientation made me feel like my entire world had suddenly been turned upside down, leaving me confused and struggling to find solid ground. 

But I was determined to find my feet again. 

Just breathe, I told myself as I took a very deep breath, which instantly began to make me feel a little bit more in control. I slowly exhaled and opened my eyes again, repeating this thought over and over like a mantra until I finally began to get a hold of myself. 

Already feeling much better, I forced myself to take another breath and concentrate on exactly what it was that I was hearing. It was a voice–a woman’s voice that was supposed to sound human but there was actually nothing human about it. The voice was also speaking English, but what it was saying made absolutely no sense whatsoever and the effect of it was fiendishly unnerving. 

There has to be a rational explanation for this, I told myself again as I glanced over at the others and forced myself to stand my ground. Of course, in the end there was a completely rational explanation for all of it. But little did I know how far I would have to go to try and find it or how many answers would still be left unsolved once I did. 

The Lost Centurion ~ The Immortals #1

  • CenturionAuthor: Monica La Porta
  • Published: June 2014 by Monica La Porta
  • Category: Paranormal, Romance
  • four-half-stars

Marcus has sworn to avenge his wife’s death—even if it takes an eternity to hunt down the vampire who murdered her. Once a Roman Centurion, Marcus is now immortal and, for the past two thousand years, impervious to human emotions. 

Marcus was saved by Apollo, with the gift of immortality, after suffering a deadly battle wound and has been searching for the man who killed his wife for over two thousand years. Marcus’ search has brought him back to Rome and now, finally, he has a lead on the vampire, Claudius, who was seen leaving his house the night his wife, Aurelia, died. 

Everything changes for Marcus the night he rescues Diana Valente. As Marcus arrives to meet Virgil, the informant, he’s drawn into a brawl between Virgil and several other vampires. Virgil has turned a human girl into a vampling to save her life but without her consent. After Virgil is fatally wounded Marcus finds himself cast in the role of Diana’s protector. She is totally reliant on Marcus and knowing nothing of the world of vampires and immortals she struggles with the changes taking place.

The girl didn’t resist; she barely seemed aware of what was happening around her, but cried when he lifted her. She weighed nothing in his arms, and from what he could see, her body was covered in bruises. The most prominent ones were around her neck, where the vampire had tried to strangle her, but her skin was marred all the way under her blouse.

Claudius’ vampire nest is now hunting Diana, and as Marcus has forfeited the protection of the pact made between Vampires and Immortals by becoming a renegade, his life is also in danger. Claudius, who demands the return of his vampling, has no intention of giving up the chase. Marcus must choose between saving Diana or avenging his wife’s death.

The descriptions of Rome, past and present, and the places in Italy are beautifully written and paint a vivid picture; Marcus’ house, the Forum, Alexander’s villa to name a few, giving a real sense of Rome as it is and how it was. The plot winds its way along with some surprises and unexpected twists with plenty of action and romance. The relationship between Marcus and Diana evolves unpretentiously and the characters are written convincingly. And I like the different take on the vampire angle. This is a series I’ll follow.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US 

About the author

MonicaMonica La Porta is an Italian who landed in Seattle several years ago. Despite popular feelings about the Northwest weather, she finds the mist and the rain the perfect conditions to write. Being a strong advocate of universal acceptance and against violence in any form and shape, she is also glad to have landed precisely in Washington State. She is the author of The Ginecean Chronicles, a dystopian/science fiction series set on the planet Ginecea where women rule over a race of enslaved men and heterosexual love is considered a sin. She also published two other series: the futuristic love story across the universe, Elios & Gaia, narrated in two books; and the paranormal romance/urban fantasy series The Immortals set in Rome. Stop by her blog to read about her miniatures, sculptures, paintings, and her beloved beagle, Nero. Sometimes, she also posts about her writing.
Author links: www.monicalaporta.com, Twitter, The Ginecean Chronicles and The Prince’s Day Out