Tag Archive | Italy

Falcon in the Glass, by Susan Fletcher (book review) – secrets and more secrets in Venice

book cover of Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher published by Margaret K McElderry BooksSecrets passed from master to apprentice,
Sand to glass to beauty,
Death for sharing the secrets.

The all-powerful Doge did indeed control Venice with an iron fist during its heyday as a world trading center. Imagine how he’d respond to intelligent birds who could soar out of his reach, at the behest of their human partners!

Pick up this intriguing window into the world of medieval glassblowing, family bonds, and criminal skullduggery today at your local library or independent bookstore – and wonder if the Bird Children’s descendants may still live among us!

Book info: Falcon in the Glass / Susan Fletcher. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013.   [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Without help, Renzo cannot practice his glassblowing for the test. Without help, the refugee children and their birds will freeze. Without fail, the Doge of Venice will have them all killed if he finds them together in his city!

As the lowest helper in the padrone’s glassworks, twelve-year-old Renzo wishes he was still working with his father in their studio, before Papa was murdered and Uncle fled Venice with his glassblower’s knowledge and a price upon his head. Now Renzo must demonstrate to the Guild that he can work glass like his father or he will never become an apprentice.

Practicing late at night, Renzo spies a starving girl huddled in the studio’s warmth and her falcon in the rafters – no spies allowed in the glassworks, no strangers, no birds! If she is one of the green-eyed Bird Children who were banished from mainland Venice for witchcraft…but he needs another set of hands to work the glass and she needs only a place to rest.

With Letta’s help, he can create beautiful glass pieces, including a falcon that looks like it could fly. But the other Bird Children need warmth and food, too. Perhaps they can stay for a little while, even if their silent communication with their birds makes Renzo nervous.

But sometimes, doing good carries a heavy price. The ruler of Venice is intent upon capturing the Bird Children, a man who looks like Uncle is spotted on the island, and Mama worries about Renzo’s late nights at the glass furnace.

Can Renzo keep the Bird Children safe and out of sight?
Can he ignore the whispers about his uncle and criminal mischief?
Can he keep his hands steady on the glass pipe when the Guild test comes?

Strong is the psychic connection between these green-eyed children and their birds, strong is Renzo’s love for his mother and sister, strong are the Doge’s prisons awaiting the smallest error by these young ones in this fantasy set in the 15th century. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

World traveling, page by page (reflective)

Lots of traveling lately on BooksYALove, especially on World Wednesdays as we look at life through the eyes of folks living outside the USA.

Which is the real Australia – the remote Red Center where Gemma’s kidnapper has taken her, Stolen from her parents in a busy airport?
The sleepy country town where Laura and Leon investigate the mysteries surrounding The Visconti House?
Urban Sydney where The Reformed Vampire Support Group meets every Tuesday night, trying to keep out of temptation’s way?

Deo loves soccer and his family – will he have either one left after fleeing a massacre? Now is the Time for Running as he suddenly becomes one of the many refugees struggling to enter South Africa.

Maya’s trip from her birthplace in Canada to her parents’ homeland of India became a much longer and more perilous journey than she or her father ever imagined, as chronicled in the verse-novel Karma.

When I Was Joe jumps right out of the headlines about urban London gang fights and the witness protection programme, followed by the gripping Almost True – yes, Keren David is writing a third book about Ty right now.

Trapped between a massive glacier and the frozen fjord, Solveig and her siblings pray for rescue by their royal father, listening for Icefall, trapped in a mountain fort with a traitor.

Louise suddenly went from the Connecticut suburbs to the decks and plush staterooms of the Titanic as she unwittingly became The Time-Traveling Fashionista.

Of course, the River of Time series took us far away and far back in time, as Gabi and Lia traveled back to the 14th century from their archaeologist mother’s dig site in Tuscany. Swordfights, romance, and intrigue! Start with Waterfall (first in the series), then continue the adventure in Cascade and Torrent. Lisa T. Bergren is working on the next book in the series, after her recent trip to Italy for more research.

More of the wide world coming up, as we travel soon to Iran, to the Moon, to the future, to Australia, and beyond with the BooksYALove (but won’t find on the bestsellers’ lists).

Found this great statue of kids reading in Kingston, Jamaica.

Torrent (fiction)

Welcome to World Wednesday as we return to 14th century Tuscany with the third volume of The River of Time series, being released tomorrow.

Battles a-horseback and on foot.
Treachery and loyalty.
Faith and hope, gained and lost.
And, oh, you will so want to be with Gabi and Lia again as they time-travel to be with those they love!

Please be sure to read Waterfall (#1) and Cascade (#2) first so that you get the full backstory of how two bored American teen sisters become the She-Wolves of Siena and inextricably entwined with the people and destiny of Castello Forelli. Swashbuckling gal heroes – my favorite kind!

Book info: Torrent / Lisa T. Bergren. David C. Cook, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site]

Recommendation: Traveling back in time, the Betarrini family hopes that they’re not too late to save their friends in 14th century Tuscany. Bringing Dad with them is an unexpected blessing, but being separated from Marcello is causing Gabi such anguish and pain!

Once again, Gabi and Lia exit the ancient Etruscan tomb into a battle zone – this time they may have the upper hand as the Forellis have left weapons hidden for them. Ah, Castello Forelli has been rebuilt, but over it fly the flags of the treacherous Lord Paratore who started the border wars! Traveling the backways by night, the Betarrinis hope to find safety and information in the city.

How happy the people of Siena are to see that the battling Ladies Betarrini have returned to them from their mysterious travels! How delighted handsome young knight Marcello is to have Gabi back in his arms! How wonderful to see that his election to The Nine is benefiting the people of the region through Marcello’s able decisionmaking.

But how sad the sisters are to discover that Fortino Forelli is a captive of Lord Paratore, being tortured despite all offers of ransom from his brother.

Can the She-Wolves of Siena help rescue the lord of Castello Forelli while keeping Gabi safe from Paratore’s bitter desire for revenge? Is Lord Greco still a double-agent for Siena, or has he decided that Florence will win the war? Will the Betarrini family stay in the 1300s, knowing that the Black Plague is coming – or will Gabi be taken away from Marcello forever?

Swordplay, expert archery, the rough road to Rome, narrow escapes, and the power of true love – you won’t want to miss this thrilling sequel to Waterfall and Cascade!
Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Cascade, by Lisa T. Bergren (fiction) – time travel, romance, the Black Death

It’s mysterious Monday (after time off for a wonderful Caribbean interlude last week at the International Association of School Librarianship conference in Kingston, UWI-Mona), and we’re hurtling back to 14th century Italy with Gabi and Lia.

Have the teens convinced their rational archaeologist mother that they can truly travel into the past? Worry that time is moving faster in Marcello’s world while she is in the present is causing Gabi true pain.

And consider the classic time traveler’s paradox – if they do go back and stop the people of Castle Forelli from succumbing to the Black Plague, will that change history as we know it?

Romance, adventure, intrigue, and a trio of strong women make this second novel in the Rivers of Time Trilogy as good as the first book in the series, Waterfall. And the final volume, Torrent, will be released on September 1, 2011 – I can hardly wait!!

Book info: Cascade / Lisa T. Bergren. David C. Cook, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Her heart belongs to Marcello – Gabi knows this now that she’s back in modern times and he is in 1342. But she and her sister Lia had to come back to find their mother – and find a way to keep the black plague from wiping out their friends in old Tuscany.

Their archaeologist mom can’t quite believe that her daughters have traveled to the 14th century and back; her scientific background demands proof. When the three Bettarini women visit the ancient tomb, Mom gets more than proof – she goes back with them!

Marcello’s betrothed has given him up for his older brother, who is finally recovering from his long illness; becoming Lady of Castle Forelli is a political move, of course. Free to express their affection at last, Gabi’s reunion with Marcello is interrupted by invaders from Castle Paratore.

The regional war between is still going strong, as the republics of Siena and Florence fight over the borderland castles. So the enemies of Castle Forelli would love to capture the Ladies Bettarini who are strong and wise and fearless in battle.

Intrigue, conflict, and the coming Black Plague – can the “She-Wolves of Siena” turn the tide? Will the troops of Florence break through the Sienese defenses to capture the capital? Will Gabi stay with Marcello in 1342, or will Lia and their mom try to draw her back to their own time?

This second book in the Rivers of Time series answers questions raised by Waterfall (#1 – blogged here July 26th) and leaves readers anticipating more intrigue and romance in Torrent (#3 – Sept 1, 2011 pub date). (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Waterfall, by Lisa Tawn Bergren (fiction) – time travel, romance, sword-fighting

You’d think that archaeology was exciting, digging into the past and all that – well, not to Lia and Gabi, teen sisters who’d rather be back in Colorado with their friends. Who cares why the Etruscans disappeared from Italy? But Mom is carrying on the search for ancient tombs that she began with their father, so recently killed in a car crash.

Neither sister is good at waiting around, so the chance to see even a looted tomb is worth doing. But when their hands touch the matching handprints on the wall, they are swept into the past – Knights and castles? Is this a re-enactment? No – they’re really in the past!

Relying on her wits and fencing skills, Gabi navigates the courtly customs of 14th century Tuscany and its local politics. As she searches for her sister and frets about the oncoming black plague, Gabi may be losing her heart to the young knight who rescued her, who is betrothed to another…

Swordfights, romance, and a gal with guts – and this is just the first book in The Rivers of Time Trilogy! Watch for my August notes on Cascade , while Torrent will be published on Sept. 1, 2011.

Book info: Waterfall / Lisa Tawn Bergren. David C. Cook, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Another summer of ancient ruins in Italy? Teen sisters Gabi and Lia risk sneaking into the latest find, only to be whirled away when their hands touch the handprints near the warrior mural!

Gabriella emerges from the old tomb into the middle of a battle, with horsemen with swords, archers firing arrows through the woods! Where’s Lia? Now the ruined castle on the hill is a bustling fortress. Rescued from the leering soldiers in red by a handsome knight under the gold flag, Gabi is soon convinced that she’s truly landed in the past.

The handsome young knight Marcello explains that her hiding place sits on land that the red bannered Paratores are trying to seize for a rival ruler. Her modern jeans exchanged for a suitable gown, Gabi says she’s from faraway Normandy to explain her unfamiliarity with local customs at the Castle Forelli and asks her rescuers to help search for her sister.

When the castle is attacked, Gabi is thankful for her late father’s fencing lessons, but learns that the evil Paratores have Lia! Soon she is known as the warrior Lady Gabriella, as she fights to protect the people who saved her.

Oh, no – the sisters have landed in Toscana just years before the Black Plague sweeps the land! Can Gabi rescue Lia? Is there a reason that they’ve been brought back into the past? Is there a way to reverse the time trip? Can Gabi leave Marcello behind if they go back to the future?

This thrilling first book in The River of Time series sweeps you into the daily life, perils, and people of the medieval Italy that Gabi is growing to love (or is it Marcello?) – followed by Cascade (#2) and Torrent (#3). (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.