Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Publisher’s and Book Blogger's Guide to Giveaway Promotions: Enter to Win!

Publishers, authors and book bloggers love giveaways. So with the help of these folks, including iRead Book Tours, Rafflecopter wrote an ebook about it. Let’s celebrate its release with a giveaway!

Everything an author, publisher, or book blogger needs to know to run a giveaway. In this 30+ page ebook, you’ll learn about: 

  • Popular occasions when you should run a giveaway 
  • Selecting the best prize to offer in your giveaway 
  • The benefits of running a giveaway promotion 
  • Tips from publishers who’ve run hundreds of giveaways 

Now through 11/3, download the ‘Publisher’s Guide to Giveaway Promotions’ ebook and enter to win a Kindle Paperwhite and a $250 Amazon GC. Enter up to three ways:

  • Downloading the ebook 
  • Tweeting out a message 
  • Tell us who referred you 
Download the ebook below by entering the giveaway. For the referral entry, please use the name Laura Fabiani at iRead Book Tours. Complete all three options to increase your chances!

The giveaway ends November 3rd. Enter through the entry form below. When time expires, Rafflecopter will announce the winners over social media.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Inheritance by Marianne Perry (Review and Giveaway!)

The Inheritance by Marianne Perry
ISBN: 9781475952834
Published November 2012
Trade paperback, 280 pages

Book Description:

The Inheritance tells the story of a family disintegrating from conflicting loyalties in Calabria, Italy. Set during the period 1897 to 1913, the region was subject to earthquakes and tsunamis; the land harsh and poverty the norm. Superstition clashed with religion and a class system ruled the people. Calabria is the perfect backdrop for the tragedy that unfolds in The Inheritance.

Caterina is an atypical woman, and The Inheritance chronicles her life from birth to young womanhood. Born with an inheritance of loss into a society that has predetermined what she can and cannot do, she vows to live a life of her choosing. Caterina refuses to allow the limits of her gender, the constraints of her class and the demands imposed by those in power to stand in her way. Caterina remains steadfast in her commitment to become the woman she imagines. Her decisions ignite conflicts and fuel a chain of events that result in dire consequences for all whose path she crosses.

My Review:

Italian historical fiction novels are my favorite genre, reminding me so much of the stories my grandmothers and aunts used to tell me. When I picked up The Inheritance, I quickly became immersed in the lives of Anna Marino, the kind wife of Santo, a business man whose wealth and connections made him brutally powerful, and vivacious Caterina Romano, the daughter of Anna's servant.

I was glued to the pages and would have read the book in one sitting if I didn't have work and family obligations. The author deftly wrote a tale that was compelling and heartbreaking. She developed her characters so well that one easily felt strong emotions toward them whether it was contempt or compassion. The village life too was brought to life with secondary characters that supported the role of the main ones and helped us to understand them. How could one not love Bruno, the cook? Food is such a big part of the Italian culture and his character showed the strength of food in connecting people.

Anna, Caterina, Lorenzo and Padre Valentine propelled the story forward and although one got the sense of impending doom, hope was always foremost in these characters. Both Anna and Caterina are strong female characters but they suffered from male dominance and social restraints. Nevertheless, there were little victories in their lives that I applauded. The ending was bittersweet and left me wanting more. One could easily see a sequel in the works. I was hoping for redemption for one of the characters but it fell short.

The setting of a small town in Calabria was vividly portrayed. The rigid class system was manifested in the lifestyle and ways of thinking. The hard life of the peasants clearly helped us understand why many emigrated from there to North America in search of a better life. 

There was only one distraction for me as I read this well-written novel, and that was the misspelling and wrong verb tenses of the Italian words used throughout the text. For those not fluent in Italian, this won't matter at all. The story was so immersive for me that I was able to skip over these words replacing them with the correct ones as I read.

Apart from this, I will consider this novel one of my best reads for 2015. When a story has me thinking about it long after I read it, I know it has touched me deeply. This one can be considered an historical literary fiction, and I look forward to reading more of this talented author's works. 

To read more reviews, please visit Marianne Perry's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the book: 

About the Author:

Family dynamics, genealogical research to solve ancestral mysteries and international travel are Marianne Perry’s priorities. A second-generation Canadian-Italian, she is the author of The Inheritance, a historical fiction set in Calabria, Italy from 1897 to 1913 inspired by her grandmother’s early life in Calabria. With a thirty-year career in education and communications, Marianne holds a Master of Education Degree from The University of Western Ontario (Canada).

A past member of the Board of Trustees, the Canadian National Arts Centre Corporation, she has also published non-fiction genealogical articles throughout North America. As a girl, Marianne fell in love with The National Geographic Magazine and dreamt of exploring the world. With her recent visit to Antarctica, she achieved her goal of stepping foot on every continent. The mother of two grown children, Marianne and her husband live on the shores of the St. Mary’s River, which drains Lake Superior on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. She continues to research family history and write non-fiction genealogical articles. In addition, she is working on her second novel and planning further adventures.

Marianne blogs about genealogy, travel, family and writing on her website. Visit her at You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

Connect with the author: Website    ~   Twitter   ~   Facebook


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Roma Series by Gabiel Valjan (Book spotlight and Giveaway!)

Today, I'm kicking off the Roma series blog tour at Italy Book Tours! Look at that cover. If you like thrillers, then be sure to check out this series and follow the blog tour to read the reviews. Gabriel Valjan writes suspenseful thrillers set in Italy. His latest novel in the series is Turning to Stone, just released this past summer. Look out for my reviews of all the books in the series in the next month.

About Turning to Stone:

Alabaster Black aka Bianca Nerini returns as an investigation into a public official’s assassination pits Bianca and her friends against a backdrop of financial speculation, female assassins on motorcycles, and the Camorra—the most ruthless of Italian organized crime gangs—in Gabriel Valjan’s TURNING TO STONE, the fourth book of the highly praised Roma series.

En route to a secret meeting, Aldo Giurlani—the regional commissioner of Lombardy in northern Italy and a specialist on organized crime—is assassinated in the middle of a public square.

More mysterious is the package sent to Giurlani’s hand-picked team of five top investigators within the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), the Italian law enforcement agency that investigates illegal financial transactions, from money laundering to drug trafficking. Within the package are five copies of a book entitled Man of Smoke written by Aldo Palazzeschi.

Then there is Bianca’s tenuous online contact with a mysterious online contact known as Loki, who delivers a cryptic message to her, takes on a new twist with the appearance of a brilliant young obsessive-compulsive man who joins her team.

Complicating matters even further, old enemies and, more problematically, Alabaster’s former employer—Rendition, a murky covert U.S. government agency that does more than just investigate financial crimes—still have grudges to bear against her.

As new mysteries unfold, Bianca’s group quickly discovers that Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.

Readers looking for a suspenseful thriller with mysterious twists and turns abounding will love Gabriel Valjan’s TURNING TO STONE.

Here are the first three books in the series:


Savvy forensic accountant Alabaster Black is hiding in Rome from her former employer, covert U.S. organization “Rendition.” While there under an assumed name she meets Dante, an investigator, erstwhile explorer and member of the Roma Underground, a band of amateur archaeologists who map the city beneath Rome. With Italian artifacts disappearing at an alarming rate, Alabaster and Dante search for answers and create a trap for the thieves. Through a mysterious online contact Alabaster learns she is being followed, and with her safety at risk she is forced to rethink her chosen alliances and discover hidden truths about herself.

“A provocative thriller with a riveting and surprising plot.”
—M.J. Rose, International bestseller

“...the strong, captivating heroine and an allure of conspiracy and organized crime make this novel an undoubted success.”
—Kirkus Book Reviews

“Conspiracy, double identities, car chases and espionage, all against the backdrop of magical Rome, with its great food and marvelous art history, make this an entertaining, intriguing read.”
—Blogcritics Book Reviews in Brief

WASP’S NEST (Book #2)

In the highly anticipated sequel to Roma, Underground, Bianca returns to the U.S. for her former employer, the covert organization Rendition, to investigate Cyril Sargent and Nasonia Pharmaceutical. Although ambivalent about the assignment and uneasy about her online “friend,” Loki, she is enticed into researching what Sargent is doing with insect genetics that might upset the world of cancer research and treatment. Old friends Farrugia and Gennaro uncover a twisted conspiracy from their past and join Bianca in Boston where they will experience conflicted loyalties, question allies, and confront uncertain enemies, as they’re drawn into the wasp’s nest.

“Again, Valjan successfully conflates multiple sophisticated narratives that bring the past and present together, which the archaeological theme of the last novel also helps accomplish . . . Black is back and just as entertaining as ever.”
—Kirkus Book Reviews

“…a compelling reading, action-packed and with intriguing characters. The plot had plenty of twists and turns, some surprising secrets, and it kept me on the edge of my seat, guessing until the very end.”
—The Book Junkie


Milan. Bianca’s curiosity gets a young university student murdered, but not before he gives her a file that details a secret weapon under development with defense contractor Adastra. Guilt may drive her to find justice for the slain Charlie Brooks, but she is warned by the mysterious Loki to stay away from this case that runs deep with conspiracy. Bianca must find a way to uncover government secrets and corporate alliances without returning Italy to one of its darkest hours, the decades of daily terrorism known as the “Years of Lead.”

“It is even more to Gabriel Valjan’s credit that with Threading the Needle he, as an American, was nonetheless capable of unusual insight into the Misteri Italiani, the Italian Mysteries, without taking any prejudicial standpoint, one way or the other, or putting the blame on anyone, but rather inviting readers to judge for themselves.”
—Claudio Ferrara, Italian journalist and translator

“But after the first few pages, I knew I was committed to the end of the book ... and would be reading the two earlier books…Characters, plot, ideas, background: In Threading the Needle, Valjan weaves it all into an international crime novel worth the read.
—Beth Kannell of Kingdom Books, a specialty mystery bookshop in northeastern Vermont.

Buy the books here: 

About the Author:

Gabriel Valjan lives in New England, but has traveled extensively, receiving his undergraduate education in California and completing graduate school in England. Ronan Bennett short-listed him for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize for his Boston noir, Back in the Day. His short stories and poetry have appeared in literary journals and online magazines.

Connect with the author: Website   ~  Twitter   ~  Facebook


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Song for Bellafortuna by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco (author interview and giveaway)

I love discovering new authors, especially when they write a novel set in Italy. This one is set in Sicily and is a historical fiction, one of my favorite genres. Although my parents are from Rome and Abruzzo, I have a lot of friends whose parents are from Sicily, and I've learned to understand the dialect, which is almost a language in itself!

So let me introduce you to Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco and his second novel. First off, isn't that a gorgeous cover? Makes me want to hop on a plane to Italy, like right now. The minute I read the book's description, I knew I wanted to read this story: a family saga revolving around wine, olive oil and opera? It appealed to my Italian blood, alright. And this book pulled me right into its story from the first page. So watch out for my review of A Song for Bellafortuna on Library of Clean Reads on Sept 14!

Book Description

A Song for Bellafortuna is an inspirational Italian Historical Fiction novel concerning a young man's desire to free his Sicilian village from the domination of one family's long reign.

For years, the beautiful, yet secluded, hilltop village of Bellafortuna, Sicily, was a great producer of wine and olive oil. The entire village prospered. However, after the arrival of the Vasaio family, production dwindles and the villagers soon find themselves in crushing debt to the Vasaios. Only one family in the village remains outside the control of the Vasaios, but the reason haunts Antonio Sanguinetti every day of his life. Antonio is determined to erase this legacy by offering financial and emotional support to his fellow villagers. He introduces them to the choral song from Verdi's opera, Nabucco, which becomes the rallying cry for the villagers and offers them hope for a better life.

When Antonio's only son, Giuseppe, discovers his family's past, he becomes determined to take on the Vasaios and remove them from power. Led by the young Giuseppe, a plan is hatched that could result in either complete freedom for the villagers, or if it fails, forever solidifying the Vasaios' control. Find out what happens in A Song for Bellafortuna, a sweeping epic historical fiction tale of love, drama, sacrifice, and redemption, set among the beautiful landscape of Sicily.

Where to buy the Book: 


An Interview with Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco:

EI: If you could describe your novel in one sentence, what would it be?

VBL: A passionate story of redemption and sacrifice, set among the beautiful landscape of Sicily.

EI: What does it mean to you to be an Italian- American?

My great-grandfather, Castranzio LoCoco, came to New Orleans from Cefalù, Sicily in 1890. New Orleans is a unique place. So many Sicilians flocked here because of the agricultural life that was similar to the one they left in Sicily. It seems the main reason for the Sicilians coming to New Orleans all around the same time has to do with employment. As the Louisiana farmers lost more and more workers after the Civil War, a call went out to Sicily for those looking for a better life and work in America. The Sicilians answered the call and came by the thousands. But here is the key. Yes, they assimilated into the American culture, but they kept their own customs as well, and introduced those customs into the New Orleans society. These customs were related to food, music and religious rituals. They also kept their strong sense of family and a commitment of living life with passion.

So for me, being an Italian-American means a person who is fully American, yet fully aware of where his/her ancestors hailed from, and incorporating some of those customs from the old county into his/her own life today – and to do it with passion.

EI: How interesting. I did not know that about New Orleans and the Sicilian immigrants. Do you speak Italian or the Sicilian dialect? If so, have you passed the language on to your children?

VBL: I do not speak Italian or the Sicilian dialect. However, I do know phrases and Italian words, which does allow me to understand Italian. Don’t laugh when I say this. I learned Italian from opera librettos. I taught myself words and phrases from the operas I adored. The words I knew best were love and death, since my Italian class was opera.

Growing up in a large Sicilian family did introduce me to the language. My Sicilian relatives spoke some phrases, and when they got excited, would speak in Italian, all of which gave me a love of the language. I try to show in my novels a sense of the beauty of the language. Because I do not speak it, I always use Italian readers to assist me in correcting my mistakes. They get a kick out of American style of Italian I use – as they call it.

EI: Have you ever been to Italy? What are some of your experiences with the country of your ancestors?

VBL: I have been to Italy twice in my life. The first was with my parents and sisters when I was in College. Did the normal Rome, Florence and Venice. I fell in love with the place, as we immersed ourselves into the cultural as much as we could. My father had studied in Rome for 2 years, so he loved taking us around to all of his old haunts.

My second visit to Italy was with my wife. What a magical trip. We travelled all over Italy, and were both convinced that the further South you go, the more beautiful it becomes. Sipping wine at on outdoor café or listening to music in a piazza with someone you love makes for a unforgettable experience. Also, spending the night in Assisi in an old Monastery after all the tourist left was something we will never forget.

EI: Are you working on another novel? Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

VBL: Let me answer this question by first telling you about my writing journey. I was a history major and I am a lawyer. I never thought I could write a novel. After my son was born, a story came to me about an opera singer growing up in Milan. I outlined the story that night and began writing. My first novel, Tempesta’s Dream, was the result. Then, along came my daughter, so I knew I needed another book. Somehow, the idea of A Song for Bellafortuna came to me. I know the idea of a book that involved Caruso and a village was the impetus.

As for my next book, the joke is I only write when I have a new child, so my wife says my career is over. We shall see. I mean about another novel, not another child.

At this point, I do have germ of an idea about Italian and German POWs during WWII who were shipped to Louisiana and worked on Sugar Cane Plantations. My family has such a farm, and those same German and Italian POWs indeed worked on our farm, sneaking out at night to meet the local ladies. But that is another story.

EI: Oh my gosh, that sounds wonderful! I hope you write that story.

VBL: Thanks for wanting to know a little bit about my writing career and me.

EI: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I'm looking up your first novel Tempesta's Dream.

Award winning and bestselling author, Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco, lives in New Orleans. His first novel, Tempesta's Dream - A Story of Love, Friendship and Opera, became an Amazon bestselling novel and was awarded the 2014 Pinnacle Achievement Award in Historical Fiction. Amazon also has named his book as a Top Rated Novel in Italian Historical Fiction.

His most recent novel, A Song for Bellafortuna, was shortlisted in the William Faulkner - William Wisdom Competition. He is an estate planning attorney in New Orleans, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Connect with the author: Website ~  Twitter  ~ Facebook

The giveaway!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

For those of you who are history buffs (book spotlight)

The last time I was in Rome I did not get a chance to visit the Vatican. I'm not Catholic, but I like religious history and art. Apparently the Vatican tour is worth taking and I hope to do it the next time because I was eighteen the last time I visited. Not much has changed there but I have. :-)

My hubby is currently reading Where Christ is Present by John Warwick Montgomery and Gene Edward Veith. It explores Martin Luther and the reformation of the Church. I've read about Martin Luther in my research and studies of Bible teachings as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, which incidentally is now the second largest religion in Italy.

This book is currently on tour with iRead Book Tours. If you like history, especially religious history, you might like this one.

To read reviews, please visit the tour page on iRead Book Tours.

Where Christ is Present by John Warwick Montgomery and Gene Edward Veith
Publisher: NRP Books
Released April 2015
Trade paperback, 256 pages

Book Description

Five hundred years ago, the church of Jesus Christ underwent a Reformation.

A lot happened after Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg. But the fallout was not simply the start of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church also recast itself in response to Luther’s call for reforms. And contrary to common belief, Martin Luther did not set out to start a new church. Rather, he was trying to reform the church that already existed by reemphasizing its essence—namely, the “good news” (the gospel) that Jesus forgives and saves sinners.

The unity of the church was broken when the pope rejected this call for reform and excommunicated Luther, starting a chain of events that did lead to the institutional fracturing of Christendom and to a plethora of alternative Christian theologies. But, as many – including conservative Catholics – now admit, the church did in fact need reforming. Today, the church – including its Protestant branches – also needs reforming. Some of the issues in contemporary Christianity are very similar to those in the late Middle Ages, though others are new. But if Luther’s theology can be blamed – however unfairly – for fragmenting Christianity, perhaps today it can help us recover the wholeness of Christianity.

In the hope of that wholeness, Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Veith commissioned these essays celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, gathering some of the best contemporary voices the Lutheran church has to offer.

And we need these voices! The religious climate in the early 21st-century is simultaneously highly religious and highly secularized. It is a time of extraordinary spiritual and theological diversity. This book will propose the kind of Christianity that is best suited for our day. The remedies offered here are available by way of the same theology that was the catalyst for reforming the church five hundred years ago.

About the Authors:

John Warwick Montgomery is the author of more than sixty books in six languages. He holds eleven earned degrees, including a Master of Philosophy in Law from the University of Essex, England, a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, a Doctorate of the University in Protestant Theology from the University of Strasbourg, France, and the higher doctorate in law (LL.D.) from the University of Cardiff, Wales. He is a Lutheran clergyman, an English barrister, and is admitted to practice as a lawyer before the Supreme Court of the United States and is a practicing avocat, Barreau de Paris, France. Dr. Montgomery currently serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin.

Gene Edward Veith is the Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

Connect with the authors: Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter