Monday, December 12, 2016

DISRUPTION by Chuck Barrett (Book Spotlight, Guest Post and Giveaway!)

Today I'm kicking off the blog tour for DISRUPTION, the third book in the Jake Pendleton series, which is mostly set in Italy — Rome, Venice, Florence...I asked the author about the setting and he told me about his experiences in Italy. Scroll down to read his guest post about how visiting Italy led to key places in his latest cyber thriller DISRUPTION. I enjoyed this action packed novel so look out for my review tomorrow on Library of Clean Reads!

Book Details:

Book Title: Disruption by Chuck Barrett
Category: Adult Fiction, 404 pages
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Switchback Press
Release date: October 25, 2016
Tour dates: Dec 12 to 30, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13: One use of f-word, one sex scene with no graphic description, violence typically associated with thrillers such gunshot wounds and fight scenes.

Book Description:

There are two types of people: those who have been hacked and know it, and those who have been hacked and don’t know it.

Former Naval Intelligence Officer turned secret operative Jake Pendleton finds himself in a pulse-pounding race to stop a cyber-terrorist from releasing a string of the most heinous cyber-crimes the world has ever seen. Crimes that could render the world’s advanced technology useless.

Jake teams with his partner, Francesca Catanzaro, to track down their only lead, a white-hat hacker in Italy known only as The Jew. A man who might hold the key to stop a group of black-hat hackers from causing worldwide chaos—tag named Disruption.

After a search of the hacker’s flat in Rome turns up empty, Jake and Francesca follow the clues—a trail of dead bodies that leads them across Europe. Along the way, Jake discovers a possible link between recent hacks and a Malaysian airliner that mysteriously disappeared.

In the final adrenaline-charged moments before Disruption, Jake and Francesca find themselves in a high-voltage race to stop these cyber terrorists from unleashing destruction against their sworn mortal enemy.

To read reviews of this book, visit Chuck Barrett's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Audible

Guest Post

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Italy 
by Chuck Barrett

Winter 2014: My wife and I had talked about it for years, but kept putting it on the back burner. You know the one, I'll get around to it someday. We weren't getting any younger, you know, so we made the decision to book a two-week tour of Italy. We checked all the tour sites and finally, after painfully exhaustive internet searches, settled on the tour we thought would meet our wants and desires. Overnight cities included in the tour—Rome, Volterra, Monterosso (Cinque Terre) and Florence along with a three-night add-on in Venice. The Venice add-on was our idea, I mean you can't go to Italy and not go to Venice, right?

At the time, I had just started writing my 4th novel, BLOWN, the first in the Gregg Kaplan series and hadn't put much thought into to 5th novel. All I knew was that it would be another Jake Pendleton series thriller since I had made a promise to my readers, followers, and fans who wanted to see Jake in action again. As I mulled over the trip to Italy, I made some concrete plot decisions (about a book that, yet, had no plot…or idea of any kind) and the decision was that I would use as much of the trip as I could in the book, so Italy had to be the main impetus in setting. By Fall 2014, the first draft of BLOWN was complete and I was knee-deep in the editing process and had not given one iota of thought to the plot of book 5 except that I knew I would have someone being held captive and wanted a blow-your-mind kind of dungeon setting for him. Besides, Jake's partner, Francesca Catanzaro, is from Italy, so the setting had an added flair…and Jake had a built-in translator!

Let's get to Italy, shall we? Research notebook in hand at all times. After all, I wanted to be able to write the trip off as research.

Arrive in Rome—Welcome to the chaos that is Italy! I'm not sure Italy has ever had organization of any kind…in anything. We landed in Rome before 6:00 a.m. and weren't able to get away from the airport until after 9! I was very tired from an all-night flight with very little sleep, my blood-sugar was low, and nobody spoke English. Some tried, but their accent made if nearly impossible to understand a word. BTW, I don't speak Italian either, which added to confusion. Besides, even if I did, it would have comedic. Can you imagine someone speaking Italian with a Southern accent? And mine can be very strong at times.

Moving on…Day one in Rome. Pessimism had kicked in full force. I already had a very dismal outlook for this trip and we had only been in the country a few hours. After a nice long nap, we took an afternoon stroll through the ancient city. Late afternoon storms pushed us inside a locals only ristorante. No one spoke English…AGAIN. But, somehow, we got past the language barrier. Our only faux pas was that we thought we had ordered two glasses of wine and ended up with a whole bottle. We never drink a whole bottle at one sitting…until Rome! It changed our outlook. The skies cleared, nighttime fell, and Rome transformed into the most fascinating and magical place I'd ever seen. My opinion of Italy flipped 180 degrees.

The next day we met up with our tour group and made a lot of new friends. Three nights in Rome. The only part of Rome I didn't care for was the Vatican, and that's mostly due to the crowds. Our last night in Rome, after a late afternoon visit to the Colosseum and Roman Forum and a fantastic dinner with 8 of our fellow tour members, we all traveled back to our hotel by subway. Walking down the tunnel that led from the subway to the street, we noticed paper money (Euro) flying down the corridor. We turned and money was coming out the bottom of one of our tour member's pant legs…seems he slipped his money behind his money belt instead of in it. It was a joke that lasted the entirety of trip.

The next day we ended up in a little mountaintop village called Volterra. For those who might not know, and I certainly didn't, Volterra is the town that gave Stephenie Meyer her inspiration for Twilight. It also gave me the perfect dungeon for DISRUPTION! On our second night in Volterra the entire tour group attended a private wine tasting and dinner in a cellar at one end of town. The cellar floor dated back to the Etruscan time era…2500 plus years ago. It even had a sub-cellar that was older. That became the perfect setting for my captive. But there is more…

Move along to Florence. We stayed in this old hotel only two blocks from Uffizi Gallery. Attached to hotel was a tower, one of the tallest remaining towers in Florence. Atop the hotel tower is the Tower Bar, what a perfect spot for a sniper assassination! ☺

For me, Venice was the letdown of the trip, but I did get some good material to use in the book, especially in what is called the Jewish Ghetto.

As it turned out, I couldn't accomplish everything I set out to in DISRUPTION in Italy alone. I needed more to finish off the story and it couldn't take place in Italy.

A little less than a year later, my wife and I took another tour which included Germany, Austria, & Switzerland. Germany provided a wonderful setting for the casino scene in Baden-Baden. (You'll have to read DISRUPTION to find out why), but the kicker was Austria. Vienna provided a lot of good material, but the tiny lakeside village of Hallstatt cinched the ending. (Again, you have to read the book!)

Of all our travels, Italy is where my wife and I have that burning desire to return. Although off to a shaky start, our two week tour of Italy was the most enjoyable we've ever taken.

I can't wait to go back!

About the Author:

Chuck Barrett is the bestselling author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series—Breach of Power, The Toymaker, and The Savannah Project, as well as his latest award-winning blockbuster, BLOWN, the first book in his new Gregg Kaplan series.

In addition to writing thrillers, Barrett speaks and conducts workshops at book festivals, book clubs, reading groups, writers conferences, and writers groups. Some of his topics include Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing based on his book—Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide To Independent Publishing—as well as, Blueprint for a Successful Book Launch, Getting from ‘Idea’ to ‘Finished Manuscript,’ Mysteries & Thrillers: Fact or Fiction, and Adding the “What if” in Storytelling.

Barrett is a graduate of Auburn University and a retired air traffic controller. He also holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate, Flight Instructor Certificate, and a Dive Master rating. He enjoys fly fishing, hiking, and most things outdoors. He and his wife, Debi currently reside in Colorado.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Jan 7, 2017

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon (Review & Giveaway!)

Book Details:

Book Title: Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon
​Category: Adult Fiction, 232 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher: Matta Press
Release date: August 2016
Tour dates: Nov 21 to Dec 16, 2016
Content Rating: PG (Mild profanity, and mild religious expletives, exploration Italian swear words, kissing - oh my!)

Book Description:

Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.

​Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

My Review:

Dreaming Sophia is a fantastical and charming coming-of-age tale of a young and lively dreamer who finally follows her calling to study art in Florence. Filled with artistic and cultural references of well-known Italian icons in Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern Art as well as music and cinema with the alluring Sophia Loren, after whom the main character is named, readers will get their fill of Italy and its language.

Sophia suffers a tragedy early on in her story. Her deep grief along with the loss of her muse make it difficult for her to move on. Always having been encouraged to dream in life, Sophia relies on "dreaming with her eyes wide open" and conjures up famous people from the past who help her along when she has to make serious decisions or when she feels lost and needs direction. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Eleonora de Medici, Garibaldi and Sophia Loren are among some of these colorful characters that dispense advice to our young heroine.

If you are familiar with Italian culture and history then this will be a refreshing look at Italy's beloved artists, but if you are not, it's a great and fanciful introduction to a culture and history that has touched and influenced the rest of the world. The history of the Mud Angels who helped salvage literary and art works in Florence after its 1966 flooding, for example, was interweaved into the story and will touch any who claim to love art.

The first part of the book in which Sophia comes to grips with what she wants to do in life reads almost like a memoir, whereas the second half of the book is a beautiful journey into Italy's artistic world as Sophia pursues her dream and falls in love both with a country and a man who can't help but be attracted to her jubilance and sometimes adorable clumsiness.

Although the magical realism resembles fairy-tale like storytelling and may throw off a few readers, Sophia's journey while living in Italy is well worth the reading. Author Melissa Muldoon's experience with Italians, their language and their culture will resonate true to North American readers of Italian origin. Highly recommended for dreamers and lovers of art and all things Italian.

To read more reviews, please visit Melissa Muldoon's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book: 

Watch the Trailer:

Melissa meets Sophia Loren in March 2016!

About the Author:

Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, "matta" means "crazy" or "impassioned". Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta ( Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, "Tutti Matti per l'Italiano" and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Dreaming Sophia is Melissa's first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she'd never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That "thing" was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.

Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.

Connect with the Author:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Youtube ~ Pinterest

Enter the Giveaway!


Win a copy of Dreaming Sophia (print open to USA & Can, ebook int’l) One winner will get the grand prize package that includes a copy of the book, calendar, mug and tote bag (USA & CAN only) 7 winners total
Ends Dec 24

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mailbox Monday for Nov 14

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

I was happy to get this book free as a Kindle. It's set in Italy during WWII: two elements that draw me in a novel. I look forward to reading it in December if I can squeeze it in.

Twilight of Memory by Julia Smith

At twenty-two Henry Townsend had the world in his hands; his cherished Lilly by his side; a bright future planned in his beloved valley home. Life promised him happiness.

America’s entrance into WWII turned that promise to dust. Desperately, Henry sought to find a way to serve his country while remaining by Lilly’s side. On the night he found his solution, Lilly disappeared.

Months later only one thing promised a shattered Henry survival… a band of brothers: skiers and outdoor enthusiasts like himself. Together they formed the 10th Mountain Division. America's Ski Troops of the U.S. Army. Together they trained for war, made their way to Italy, and fought desperately against the Germans.

The same war that shattered Henry’s dreams, now threatened to shatter Henry’s life. Could this same war, somehow save him? Could the peace he had known in his Colorado valley be found in a war-torn valley in Italy? Could salvation be found in the arms of a war-scarred nurse?

Twilight of Memory explores the power of memory and love: to hurt, to haunt, and possibly to heal.

Get to know Henry, Lilly, Daisy, and the 10th Mountain Ski Troops in this gentle historical fiction love story.

Have a great reading week!

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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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Corporate Citizen (Book #5 Roma series) by Gabriel Valjan

Book Details:

Book Title: Corporate Citizen by Gabriel Valjan
Category: Adult Fiction, 388 pages
Genre: Thriller / suspense
Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing
Published: Oct 5, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 + M

Book Description:

A call for help from an old friend lands Bianca and the crew back in Boston. On a timeout with Dante, due to revelations in the aftermath of the showdown in Naples, Bianca is drawn to a mysterious new ally who understands the traumas of her past, and has some very real trauma of his own. Murder, designer drugs, and a hacker named Magician challenge our team, and Bianca learns that leaving Rendition behind might be much harder than she thinks.

Buy the book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

My Review
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

After having read the first four books I was thrilled to discover that there was a fifth book in the Roma series, thrillers set in Italy with a kick-ass female protagonist and a cast of colorful Italian character that I've come to love.

In Corporate Citizen, Bianca Nerini, a forensic accountant and hacker, decides to return to Boston to help with a case and she takes the "team" with her. Left behind because he and Bianca are taking a break from each other is Dante, her boyfriend. Once again, Bianca gets involved in a situation that involves Rendition, a covert US organization, the US military, designer drugs and murder.

As is his trademark, Gabriel Valjan mixes intelligent writing with suspense, mystery and humor to create the perfect atmosphere for pleasurable reading. I raced through this novel but also savored it as I revisited with characters who are friends that work together both to bring about justice but also because of their individual skills.

Although each book focuses on one character more than the others, Bianca is the person that ties them all together. In Corporate Citizen she seems to be in a transitional period and takes the opportunity to leave Italy when a case in Boston calls. Is she running away from Dante and her inability to share her past traumas with him? The complexity of her character is further revealed when she takes unnecessary risks with her life, as when she meets Nick Adams early on in the game. She senses understanding in him and fortunately she is right as he ends up being an ally.

Another hacker named Magician comes on the scene and he pulls the strings that challenge Bianca and her team. Once again, the twists and turns and unexpected scenes had me trying to figure it all out, but alas although loose plot threads from previous novels are tied, others are introduced. So I was left screaming for more by the end. Mr. Valjan, how can you do this to me!

But wait, to my surprise and absolute thrill, the end of the novel includes the first chapter of Crunch City (Book #6) and oh my goodness! that book starts with a bang. I simply cannot wait to read it! If you are a fan of thriller/suspense novels that include a very likeable cast of characters that not only use their law enforcement skills to solve crime but also know how to enjoy "la doce vita" as only Italians can, then you need to pick up this series. Corporate Citizen I am happy to say was a great addition to the whole series and I eagerly and impatiently await Book #6.

To read more reviews, please visit Gabriel Valjan's page on Italy Book Tours.

Read my previous reviews of the Roma series:

I interviewed Gabriel Valjan on Library of Clean Reads and asked him about his series and his writing. How long will the series continue? What are his future projects? Read my interview and find out!

Meet the Author:

Gabriel lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the author of the Roma Series, available from Winter Goose Publishing. Gabriel has also written numerous short stories and essays found online and in print.

Connect with the author: Website ~Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!

Prizes: ​

5 winners get a paperback copy of CC
5 winners get an ebook copy of CC
1 winner gets whole set of Roma series in paperback (signed)
1 winner gets whole set of Roma series in ebook format

12 winners total
Print copies open to USA and ebooks open international
Giveaway ends Dec 17

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

If you're an author, then you need to see your writing as a business, period

Most authors just want to write. They know that to sell books they have to put themselves out there and have a marketing plan. That means you need to see your writing as a business, especially if it's your career and if you're an indie author. However, even traditionally published authors know they can no longer rely on their publisher to give their book top-notch marketing. Unless you're raking in the big bucks, book marketing is really left up to you. So think of your writing as launching your own business, which brings me to this book.

Today I am excited to be featuring Felena Hanson and her new book. I launched my own business three years ago and I love supporting organisations and authors who help women fulfil their dreams. Be sure to read my interview with Felena and enter the giveaway to win a copy of the book!

Book Details:

Book Title: Flight Club: Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business by Felena Hanson
​Category: Adult nonfiction, 198 pages
Genre: Business
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: April 2016
Content Rating: PG + M (Book contains real life examples - infidelity)

Book Description:

Flight Club is a call to rebel, reinvent, and thrive! The book shares the journey of women who "leaned out" of corporate to launch their dream business.

Felena Hanson, founder of Hera Hub, shares her personal story and rise to entrepreneurship. The book also features the journeys of and advice from six courageous female entrepreneurs: Debby Eubank, Linda O'Keefe, Lorin Beller, Sara Clark-Williams, Deirdre Maloney, and MaryCay Durrant. Each shares an exercise to help you craft your flight path.

The final section of the book includes access to an online platform ( which walks you through 17 foundational steps of launching a business. Book buyers will receive three months free access!

This book is for you if ...
  • You are tired of building someone else's dream
  • You want to pursue your passion as a career
  • You are over the corporate politics
  • You want more control of your time and life
  • You don't want to build your dream business alone!
Learn more at and

Buy the Book : Amazon

Watch the Trailer:

My Interview with Felena Hanson

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads! If you were to describe your book in 20 words, what would you say?

FH: Flight Club is a call to women who feel “stuck” in their corporate job to “lean out” and launch their own business. The book is a combination of inspiration and guidance to help them take the leap!

LCR: How are women entrepreneurs different from men entrepreneurs? Or is there no difference?

FH: I truly believes that women, when given a chance, interact differently and are instinctively more collaborative in their approach to business. I felt it was important to create a space for female entrepreneurs that is not only beautiful, comfortable, and feminine, yet also very professional.

Women empowering women is more than just a theory. In a Kaufman Foundation study (“Are Successful Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men?” May 2010), women rated their professional and business networks as important contributors to success more highly than men did. It was also found that women especially benefit from other types of social support and encouragement beyond business.

Several of the identified gender differences in the study indicate that support and encouragement from key people can especially benefit women in their efforts to found successful companies. Many women feel more comfortable in a female-focused environment and typically get to a point of trust much quicker, especially in a safe, supportive environment like Hera Hub.

LCR: What is your ultimate goal in writing this book?

FH: My goal was to inspire more women to launch their own business. This can allow them to pursue their passions and be in the driver's seat as it relates to how and when they work.

LCR: What was the best advice you received when you launched your own business?
FH: My grandpa Hanson used to recite the Serenity Prayer, which basically says… "Don't worry about the things you do not control.” This has served me well to remember that, as it helps me stay focused on what I can achieve and not worry about the opinion of others.

LCR: Where do you see your business in 5 years from now?

I’m on a mission is to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020. I’m achieving this goal through our licensing expansion and the book. I believe what we're doing will continue to change the face of female entrepreneurship.

Meet the Author:

Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven. Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and community for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provides a productive environment for growing businesses. Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to meet with clients and to connect and collaborate with like-minded business owners, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous. The company has three locations in San Diego, one in Washington DC, and continues to grow nationally via a licensing model. Her goal is to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020. Felena and Hera Hub have been featured in Inc Magazine, the BBC News, Forbes, and the New York Times. She is a published author and international speaker. Her book, “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business” is available on Amazon.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mailbox Monday for Aug 22

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

Getting the kids ready for back to school here in Montreal, Canada. They start on Aug 31. Did you know that in Italy the children start school around the second week of September and they attend from Monday to Saturday from around 8 am to 1 pm? No cafeterias in schools there!

I've been anxiously waiting for the release of this 5th book in the Roma series. So excited to finally get it! On tour with Italy Book Tours from Oct to Dec. 

Corporate Citizen by Gabriel Valjan

A call for help from an old friend lands Bianca and the crew back in Boston. On a timeout with Dante, due to revelations in the aftermath of the showdown in Naples, Bianca is drawn to a mysterious new ally who understands the traumas of her past, and has some very real trauma of his own. Murder, designer drugs, and a hacker named Magician challenge our team, and Bianca learns that leaving Rendition behind might be much harder than she thinks.

I've been wanting to read this for a long time. So I bought myself a copy while on vacation.

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani, the New York Times bestselling author of the blockbuster epic The Shoemaker's Wife, returns with her biggest and boldest novel yet, a hypnotic tale based on a true story and filled with her signature elements: family ties, artistry, romance, and adventure. Born in the golden age of Hollywood,All the Stars in the Heavens captures the luster, drama, power, and secrets that could only thrive in the studio system—viewed through the lives of an unforgettable cast of players creating magic on the screen and behind the scenes.

In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling, and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Adriana Trigiani takes us back to Tinsel Town's golden age—an era as brutal as it was resplendent—and into the complex and glamorous world of a young actress hungry for fame and success. With meticulous, beautiful detail, Trigiani paints a rich, historical landscape of 1930s Los Angeles, where European and American artisans flocked to pursue the ultimate dream: to tell stories on the silver screen.

The movie business is booming in 1935 when twenty-one-year-old Loretta Young meets thirty-four-year-old Clark Gable on the set of The Call of the Wild. Though he's already married, Gable falls for the stunning and vivacious young actress instantly.

Far from the glittering lights of Hollywood, Sister Alda Ducci has been forced to leave her convent and begin a new journey that leads her to Loretta. Becoming Miss Young's secretary, the innocent and pious young Alda must navigate the wild terrain of Hollywood with fierce determination and a moral code that derives from her Italian roots. Over the course of decades, she and Loretta encounter scandal and adventure, choose love and passion, and forge an enduring bond of love and loyalty that will be put to the test when they eventually face the greatest obstacle of their lives.

Anchored by Trigiani's masterful storytelling that takes you on a worldwide ride of adventure from Hollywood to the shores of southern Italy, this mesmerizing epic is, at its heart, a luminous tale of the most cherished ties that bind. Brimming with larger-than-life characters both real and fictional—including stars Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy, David Niven, Hattie McDaniel and more—it is it is the unforgettable story of one of cinema's greatest love affairs during the golden age of American movie making.

Have a great reading week!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mailbox Monday for Aug 1

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

July is already gone! I was supposed to visit family in Rome this summer but it didn't pan out. These books will have to replace my nostalgia for Italy.

Dreaming Sophia by Melissa Muldoon

Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture as seen through the eyes of a young American artist. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the grape fields in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia. Through dream-like encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars—who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia

Eighty-five delicious recipes from Italy's street food scene. We're all familiar with Italy's classic recipes, but few are aware of the traditional dishes that come from a burgeoning 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 don't want you to know about. Italians are a social bunch who love to share, therefore it comes as no surprise that food is often prepared and shared on the streets. Italian Street Food is not just another Italian cookbook; it delves into these backstreets to bring you some of Italy's most exciting food. Learn how to make authentic polpettine, arancini, stuffed cuttlefish, cannolis, and fritters, and perfect your gelato-making skills with authentic Italian flavours such as lemon and basil, affogato and aperol, and orange. With beautiful stories and photography throughout, Italian Street Food brings an old and much-loved cuisine into a whole new light."

Have a great reading week!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I had my first taste of wine when I was ten...

I grew up in an immigrant Italian family. Wine was a staple at the dinner table, and I was very familiar with the fermenting smell of  grapes when it was wine-making season. My father proudly recounted the tale of how he was dunked in a barrel of wine as a newborn as a way of wishing him a long and healthy life.

I had my first taste of wine when I was ten and my dad poured a few drops of it in my glass and then filled it with 7-up or ginger ale. It was like a spritzer and very refreshing. I thought this was perfectly normal (it was the same for my Italian-Canadian friends) until I hit college and realized through my English and French-Canadian friends that drinking was illegal until you hit the age of 18!

So when I had the chance to chat with author and motivational speaker Randy Haveson who wrote the book Party With a Plan: The Guide to Low-risk Drinking, we discussed the differences that culture plays in how alcohol is viewed in society. Randy wrote a guest post on this very topic and I think you will find it enlightening. Be sure to keep reading and enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

Alcohol Around the World 
by Randy Haveson

As an alcohol education specialist I am often asked why different countries and cultures have different standards and issues when it comes to the topic of alcohol consumption. People say, “In Italy, kids start drinking at a young age so it’s ok if I let my kids drink.” And my response is, “But you’re not in Italy.”

There are so many different factors that go into the way that alcohol is used and viewed in different parts of the world. To compare one to another is unfair and can be dangerous. One of the most significant factors that will determine how alcohol is viewed in a society is whether alcohol is viewed as a food or as an entertainment source. In countries like France and Italy, alcohol is a food. It is a part of most meals and seen as important to a meal as meat and vegetables. In other countries like the US, England, and Canada, alcohol is seen as entertainment. It’s a part of a person’s social life. When they go out, when they have friends over, when they go to a party, alcohol is there. For some, if alcohol is not at a party, they won’t have as much fun. It’s almost expected that alcohol will be present.

Another distinction is the society’s view of drunkenness. In Italy, there is a stigma about being openly drunk in public or doing something embarrassing. If someone is drunk and makes a fool of themselves in Italy, there will most likely be a call from Grandma the next morning saying, “What did you do last night?! How could you? How am I supposed to face my friends after what you did?” A person’s behavior has an effect on the entire family, so poor decisions when drunk don’t happen as often as they do in other parts of the world.

Here in the US, drunkenness is not frowned upon in most circles. We see someone falling down drunk and we laugh. TV shows, articles in the paper and on the internet commonly show drunken behavior as comical. In college, we still call high-risk drinking behavior a “rite of passage” and shrug it off with “kids will be kids.” In Ireland, drunkenness is an accepted part of their society. It is acceptable to get sloppy drunk, get into a physical fight with your best friend, and wake up the next day still friends and laughing about the fight. And we all know that Ireland has horrible problems with alcohol and alcoholism. Until the societal view of drunkenness changes, in our country and others, problems with alcohol will continue to be a huge issue.

People want to look at drinking age as being a determining factor in the misuse of alcohol. “If an 18-year-old can vote and go to war, they should be allowed to drink alcohol” is a common thought. In actuality, lowering the drinking age in a society like ours would only make alcohol more accessible and our problems would increase. Years ago, the drinking age in some states was 18, while in others it was 21. What they found was there were less deaths on the highway in the states where the drinking age was 21. So they raised the drinking age in some states to 21 to see what would happen. Lo and behold, in the states where it was raised to 21, there were less deaths on the highway. That’s when the federal government stated that in order to receive federal highway funds, the state drinking age had to be 21. Let’s again look at Ireland. The drinking age is 18 and they have far more problems than we do in the US. If we lower our drinking age, we will have more problems, mainly because of accessibility.

When it comes to looking at the use of alcohol or other drugs in different parts of the world, it’s an apples and oranges situation. You can’t fairly compare one with another. The only way to insure lowering the problems associated with alcohol consumption is to teach people how to drink in a low-risk way. We have to go beyond “drink responsibly” because it is too vague. Teaching specific skills that help lower the risk of problems is the only way to effectively teach people how to make good choices with alcohol.

Book Details:

Book Title: Party With a Plan by Randy Haveson
​Category: Adult nonfiction, 63 pages
Genre: Health & Wellness, Self-help
Publisher: RISE Publishing
Release date: May 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 (Since this is a book that teaches people how to drink alcohol in a low-risk manner, it's not really appropriate for kids.)

Book Description:

Finally! Here is a proven, practical way to drink alcohol and lower your risk for problems. Up until now, there have been two primary messages when it comes to drinking alcohol. One is “just say no,” which for the majority of the population is not an option. The other is to “drink responsibly.” But what does that mean? If you ask five random people to define responsible drinking, you will most likely get five completely different answers. This invalidates the term because it can be defined in so many different ways. Party with a Plan® gives a concise and research based formula that teaches people how to drink and lower their risk of negative consequences. It’s like creating a speed limit for drinking. If you stick to the speed limit, your chance of problems is minimal. However, the more you go over the speed limit, and the more often you go over the speed limit, the more you put yourself and others at risk. This book is long overdue!

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Author website

​Watch the trailer:

Meet the Author:

Randy Haveson knows addiction. As an alcoholic in long-term recovery (May, 1984), he has dedicated his life to helping others make more empowered choices in their lives. He is a 25 year veteran in the substance abuse field with extensive experience as a counselor, Director of Health & Alcohol Education at highly accredited universities, and speaker on over 100 campuses, speaking about harm reduction, self-esteem, leadership, and supporting students in recovery.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Friday, May 13, 2016

PROMO DAY 2016: A Special Online Event for Writers and Authors

If you're a writer or an author, PROMO DAY is a great way to get industry advice and to learn more about promotion. Check it out!


Thousands of writing and marketing industry professionals from around the world will gather to celebrate #PromoDay2016, a special online event dedicated to promoting, networking and learning. Industry experts will share actionable ideas and information with tactics and strategies that will help you further your writing career and improve your book marketing efforts.

Over 10 presenters, one whole day of free presentations! You'll also benefit from the networking opportunities that will connect you with presenters and attendees from around the globe.

No travel required!

You simply attend from the comfort of your own home or office. Register today for this free event.


I will be part of a live panel on Saturday May 14 at 9 am EST. Join us as we talk all about virtual book tours.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Winemakers by Jan Moran (Spotlight and Giveaway!)

Book Details:

Book Title: The Winemakers, A Novel of Wine and Secrets by Jan Moran
Category: Adult fiction, 368 pages
Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release date: April 5, 2016
​Content Rating: PG-13 + M (for themes of out-of-wedlock sex and childbirth. Two scenes of tasteful romantic sex (no body parts), and very mild language (no strong profanity).

Book Description:

1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she's never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret -- a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for.

Many years before, her mother's hard-won dreams of staking her family's claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother's buried past. 

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip. 

Buy the book: 

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Chapters ~ Books-a-Million ~ Book Depository ~ iBooks

About the Author:

Jan Moran is a Rizzoli bestselling and award winning author. She writes historical women's fiction for St. Martin's Press (Scent of Triumph, The Winemakers), contemporary women's fiction (Flawless, Beauty Mark, Runway), and nonfiction books (Vintage Perfumes, Fabulous Fragrances). Her stories are smart and stylish, and written with emotional depth. Jan often draws on her international travel and business experiences, infusing her books with realistic details.

The Midwest Book Review and Kirkus have recommended her books, calling her heroines strong, complex, and resourceful. She likes to talk to readers at and on social media. She lives in southern California and loves lattes and iced coffee, anything chocolate, and Whole Foods Double Green smoothies to balance it all out.

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

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