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review 2018-05-17 22:18
All the Way to Italy
All the Way to Italy - Flavia Brunetti

Little has grown up in San Francisco, but is a native of Italy. For a good portion of her childhood she was raised by her Aunt Sira in the States. Little and Sira packed up and left Italty after an incident happened concerning her mother and father that caused Little's mother to leave them. Now, Little's father has died and Sira has asked Little to come back to Italy. Little reluctantly returns to her home knowing that she must help sift through her father's things. Little's return also brings back partial memories, things she can't piece together from her time with her mother and father-a symbol, an argument. Little tries to piece together what secret her father was hiding and what made her mother leave; however, the one person who could tell her is no longer alive and Sira is keeping her mouth shut. Little embarks on a trip around Italy trying to figure out the secrets her family has kept, but may unlock more within herself.

A journey of self-discovery and family secrets, All The Way to Italy is a fascinating adventure. With poetic writing, some of the first lines drew me in: "She wanted to tap the man's shoulder and ask him if a place can ever shake off the people who had belonged to it, or if those tendrils would feed her nostalgia forever..." I was also immediately curious about Little; we never find out her real name and her situation is unique. Sira was an immediate favorite with her sage advice and marvelous attitude. Through Sira, there are glimpses of what Little's father was like along with amazing stories of the siblings during WWII. However, Sira is reluctant to give up her brother's secret, setting Little on a trip around Italy. With Little's adventures, we get a very intimate view of some wonderful places around the country that are usually left out of the travel guides. I loved Little's description of Rome as " a city that had adapted to modern times without losing its antiquity." Through Little's trip, Little does not figure out anything about her family, although she does discover more about herself and what she would like to do in life. I do wish the story line with Little's mother, Delila was fleshed out a little more as well as some of the historical sections. There are a few hops back through time to when Sira and Little's father were children during World War II and it seems like there was a lot of potential to build the context of the mystery with Little's father. Overall, a heartwarming and beautiful story of finding your way. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2016-07-01 14:54
The Waters of Eternal Youth (Guido Brunetti) - Donna Leon

Fifteen years ago Manuela Lando-Continui was involved in a tragic accident, almost drowning in a canal. Left with life changing brain damage, she is left to go old with the mind of a young child. In the present day Manuela’s grandmother appeals to Brunetti to look into the incident, convinced that due to Manuela’s intense fear of water that she would have been nowhere near the canal. Sceptical at first Brunetti looks into the case, discovering a dark secret, and someone willing to murder to keep it buried.


It is always a pleasure to revisit Venice and Commisario Brunetti. It is one of the highlights on my reading landscape and one that tends to rarely fail to entertain and delight me. The Waters of Eternal Youth didn’t fail in either regard.


It is sometimes the case that in Donna Leon’s books the crime that purportedly drives the story often takes a back seat the characters and their tales. In this instance the crime and events that follow form an integral part of the tale and the characters are placed in the shadows somewhat. That isn’t to say that the story is lacking in character, far from it. All the central players are there, Brunetti and his family, Vianello and Claudia Griffoni and of course the incomparable Signorina Elettra, whose one-upmanship against the conniving Lieutenant Scarpa brings welcome light relief. The most effecting character is Manuela, who’s life now is one of perpetual childhood, aging as normal physically but with the mind and spirit of  a young child, the result of an incident that appeared on the surface to be a tragic accident.


The story pulls together well, despite the fact the that initial catalyst occurs off page and sometime in the past. The clues are well laid out, perhaps a little too well laid as I had worked out who the culprit was about half way through the book. During the course of the series there have been some novels where the ending is not clear cut, sometimes Brunetti is frustrated by the legal and political system and the retribution of the perpetrators is sometimes out of reach. In this novel however that is not the case and the ending sees Brunetti’s skills played out perfectly.


As with many of her novels, Donna Leon allows Brunetti to voice concerns about the state of Italy, of its politics, corruption, position in regards to Europe and immigration and of course, the effects of tourists on the housing market and the Venice of his youth.


There is something like comfort to be found within the pages of a novel that features characters a reader has seen mature and develop over a number of years. It is the comfort of the familiar, of the feeling of almost returning to old friends, and it is this feel that is apparent in this book and makes it all the more enjoyable to read.


As ever, I impatiently wait for my next visit to Venice and Brunetti.

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review 2016-06-18 00:00
If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2)
If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2) - Carole P. Roman,Silvia Brunetti I’ve previously reviewed a few books from this series, and loved them. Carole P. Roman has a method of entertaining and engaging children that actually works. It’s easy to absorb some of the facts of the time period because she sticks you right in the middle of it. She doesn’t hide some of the stranger practices/ideas of the time. Instead she shoves them to the forefront to give parents or teachers and children something to discuss together. (Such as: not drinking water because everyone knew water was bad.)

Then there’s a section on why the Renaissance was so important, and a brief look at famous people from the era. Roman does a great job in putting the changes in art in simple, easy to understand terms. Honestly, I wasn’t aware of all that had changed during that time, so it educated me too. Beyond the people that everyone’s familiar with (Da Vinci, Donatello, etc), she mentions some lesser known figures. For example: Artemesisia Gentileschi. She was apparently one of the most famous female painters of the time.

The illustrations are solid, if not exciting. The information is enough to get your child interested without overwhelming them. The series, as a whole, is worth taking a look at, and would make a great addition to a classroom library. However, to be fair, there were a lot of errors in this book that should have been caught by a proof reader. It holds me back from giving it the rating I would have otherwise given it.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

For this and other reviews of kids books as well as science fiction and horror, please visit Sci-Fi & Scary Reviews.
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text 2016-04-17 14:50
Today's haul
The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax - Barbara Rosenblat,Dorothy Gilman
Drawing Conclusions: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery - Donna Leon,David Colacci
The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece - Laura Cumming,Siobhan Redmond
Death of a Bore - M.C. Beaton

Well, not really a haul.


Three came from the Audible member's 50% off sale (where the cash price has to be less than the price of an Audible credit) and the M.C. Beaton is a library loan which I actually started reading this time.


Now that I am have a card for the public library, I am becoming a lot more picky about the books that I buy on Audible. Now it has to be something that I really want to add to my library and read more than once or something that I can't get through the library but really want to read.

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review 2015-12-11 17:17
Suffer the Little Children (Brunetti #16) - Donna Leon
Suffer the Little Children (Guido Brunetti Series #16) - Donna Leon,David Colacci

Interesting topic of discussion. Illegal adoptions, people who want to be parents buy children from people who don't want them. What happens after they're busted? Where do the kids go? Their birth parents don't want them back, a foster home is most likely their destiny. Sometimes, "the right thing" is not the right thing at all.

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