Monday, October 10, 2016

Michelangelo's Ghost: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery by Gigi Pandian (Review & Giveaway)

Book Details:

Book Title: Michelangelo's Ghost: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery by Gigi Pandian
Category: Adult fiction, 288 pages
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Release date: October 2016
​Content Rating: PG

Book Description:

A lost work of art linking India to the Italian Renaissance. A killer hiding behind a centuries-old ghost story. And a hidden treasure in Italy’s macabre sculpture garden known as the Park of Monsters… Can treasure-hunting historian Jaya Jones unmask a killer ghost?

Filled with the unexpected twists, vivid historical details, and cross-cultural connections Pandian is known for, Michelangelo’s Ghost is the most fast-paced and spellbinding Jaya Jones novel to date.

When Jaya’s old professor dies under eerie circumstances shortly after discovering manuscripts that point to a treasure in Italy’s Park of Monsters, Jaya and her brother pick up the trail. From San Francisco to the heart of Italy, Jaya is haunted by a ghost story inexorably linked to the masterpieces of a long-dead artist and the deeds of a modern-day murderer. Untrustworthy colleagues, disappearing boyfriends, and old enemies—who can Jaya trust when the ghost wails?

Praise for Gigi Pandian's Jaya Jones Mysteries:

“Charming characters, a hint of romantic conflict, and just the right amount of danger will garner more fans for this cozy series.” – Publishers Weekly on Quicksand

“Pandian’s sprightly prose celebrates the pleasures of Italian painting, food, and landscape. The light touch, swift pace, and verve maintained throughout the novel disguise the deeper thought and scholarship underpinning the story, which like the stage props of a conjurer, make the magic happen.”– Linda Lappin, Author of Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

My Review
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Every year there is a book that I consider to be a hidden gem, a book from which I wasn't quite sure what to expect that turned out to be one of my favorites of the year. This time, Gigi Pandian's latest treasure hunt mystery novel happens to be my hidden gem. 

Jaya Jones is a treasure-hunting historian (I grew up watching Indiana Jones' movies) so her character really appealed to me. In this fourth instalment Jaya travels to Italy after she studies some manuscripts that point to the possibility of finding lost art, in particular paintings from a Renaissance Italian artist that lived for a time in India. I loved how the author connected two cultures. Jaya is of Indian descent and she links the current story (lost Renaissance art in Italy) with Indian art too. The flavors of Indian and Italian culture are interspersed throughout the novel.

I also loved that this book was set in the little-known Park of Monsters (Parco dei Mostri) also known as Gardens of Bomarzo in Italy. I have never been there although it's not far from Rome and now I really want to visit it! Jaya explores the park, and although the villagers warn her about the ghost that has been haunting the area since the 16th century, this does not deter her. The author cleverly builds on people's superstition (Italians are very superstitious) with art history, in particular that of Michelangelo's to create a suspenseful mystery with a gutsy heroine. Very clever plot!

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery novel, its characters and the tone of the series. The story was fun, had some romance, lots of mystery and suspense and a great brother/sister relationship. It's fast paced with short chapters that makes the reader want to read just one more because of the cliffhanger endings of each one. Yeah...I read well past my bedtime.

Although this is the fourth book in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery series it's a stand alone novel and can easily be read on its own. It did make me want to read the first three books when references were made to Jaya's past adventures in other countries. Reading this book made me a fan and I will be looking up Gigi's past three novels in the series. 

To read more reviews, please visit Gigi Pandian's page on Italy Book Tours.

Meet the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India. She spent her childhood being dragged around the world, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. Gigi’s debut novel, Artifact, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and named a “Best of 2012” debut by Suspense Magazine. Her fiction has been awarded the Lefty Award and short-listed for Macavity and Agatha Awards. Sign up for her email newsletter at

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

- Signed copies of the first 3 books in the series
- 6 book-themed recipe cards from the locations where each book is set (Italy, Scotland, India, France, and the US)
- $20 gift certificate to the winner’s favorite bookstore

Open to USA & Canada
Giveaway ends on Oct 29

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia (Review and Giveaway!)

Book Details:

Book Title: Italian Street Food: Recipes From Italy's Bars and Hidden Laneways by Paola Bacchia
Category: Adult Nonfiction, 274 pages
Genre: Cookbook
Publisher: Smith Street
Release date: October 2016
​Content Rating: PG

Book Description:

Italy’s classic recipes are well known the world over, but few are aware of the dishes that reign on the flourishing Italian street-food scene. Hidden behind the town squares, away from the touristy restaurants, and down back streets are little-known gems offering up some of Italy’s tastiest and best-kept secret dishes that the locals prize.

ITALIAN STREET FOOD is not just another Italian cookbook; it delves into truly authentic Italian fare—the kind of secret recipes that are passed down through generations. Learn how to make authentic polpettine, arancini, stuffed cuttlefish, cannolis, and fritters, and perfect your gelato-making skills with original flavors such as lemon and basil or affogato and aperol. With beautiful stories and stunning photography throughout, ITALIAN STREET FOOD delivers an authentic, lesser known take on a much loved cuisine.


​​Buy the book: Rizzoli ~ Amazon

My Review
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This hardbound beautiful cookbook is Paola Bacchia's ode to her love of traditional artisan Italian cooking found in Italy's bars and hidden laneways. I savored the stories of her upbringing, her search for these little-known eateries she highlights in her book and also the rich history of these artisanal foods and eateries.

This book is filled with lots of recipes, new ones I had not heard of and many of which I am familiar with because both my mother and father would make them. My dad can make a killer porchetta. I have to say this book brought back so many memories of my childhood. The gelato recipes caught my eye and I will need to try them. For the Italian foodie, this book will provide recipes of beloved dishes or twists on familiar dishes since different regions of Italy will use different ingredients for the same dish. For the North American foodie it will open up the way to bring Italian flavors into your home.

Tomatoes in Bari

The layout is very well done with complete recipe on one page and the full-page matt photograph of the dish beside it. Bacchia uses both the metric and imperial system for the amount of ingredients which is great. I grew up using the imperial because that is how my mother passed on her recipes to me. This cookbook also stays open when you are simultaneously reading and cooking a recipe from it. And there is a handy index in the back of the book. Furthermore, it also contains fantastic street photography.

Fish seller in Naples

This would make the perfect gift for the foodie in your family or if you are of Italian origin like me and want a cookbook with the recipes of dishes you are familiar with and want to preserve. This book is a work of art and clearly a labour of love. A stunningly beautiful cookbook.

Meet the Author:

​Paola Bacchia is one of Australia’s most popular Italian food bloggers. On her blog, Italy on My Mind, she shares family memories and their connections to food. It won awards for best food blog in 2013 and 2015 from ITALY Magazine. Paola returns to Italy every year to expand her knowledge of Italian food, its traditions, and innovations.

Connect to the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!

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