Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am a new blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. I started hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions at the end of  during “The Cryptic Lines” tour wherein I became quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.
I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Once Upon A Time in Venice” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions in exchange for an honest review. This complimentary copy I received is part of the ‘Adopt an Audiobook’ programme where reviewers are given a 90 day window to listen and review the book. I was given a soft deadline where I could post my ruminative thoughts at an hour which worked for me on the day the review was due which in this instance is the 25th of July or at any point ahead of the 25th if I finished the audiobook sooner. This differs from a blog tour which has a more set schedule of posting. The audiobooks are offered to ‘adopt’ for review consideration and are given to readers to gauge their opinions, impressions and insight into how the audiobook is resonating with listeners. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
I am posting my review slightly overdue as the weeks leading up to the 25th as well as until the start of August were especially unkind for listening considering how many lightning storms I was trying to dodge just to stay connected! I decided to post this review the first week of August to allow myself enough time to finalise my thoughts on behalf of the story.
Why this particular story impressed me and why I wanted to listen to it:
As I had forementioned previously on my last adopted audiobook review from Audiobookworm Promotions, I am shifting my reading life to be bent more towards listening to audiobooks than reading stories in print, as a purposeful quest to see if I can offset the repetitiveness of my chronic migraines, which have plagued me quite heavily this year.
I wanted to find a few audiobooks off the Adoption page as a way ‘back’ into reading, as I originally was going to listen to these stories during #Audiobookmonth which was in June. I hadn’t realised then how hard it would be to reclaim my reading life after my Spring migraines, which unfortunately didn’t just delay my listening hours with these audiobooks but with all books in general – which thankfully I restored back into my during the month of July!
This particular story felt like the kind of story I would love as it is set in Italy (I love Italian stories!) for starters and it is about the love shared between a grandson and a his grandfather. I grew up in a close knit family having two sets of grandparents and a great-grandmother, so right away, I had memories of my own bubbling to the surface which were reasons enough to want to listen to the story Ms Roy had written.
Secondly, I do not oft get to listen to Children’s Lit on audiobook – as generally speaking, the titles my library chooses to focus on are Adult Fiction. This gave me a chance to hear a story for Middle Grade listeners but through the course of my own listening, I realised this story is meant for all readers, of all ages! It is a timeless story about multi-generational families, the love that binds us to our heritage and how in the end, love can both shield us, protect us and enable us to have the courage to face the tomorrows we never felt we had the strength to meet.
Acquired Book By: I have been hosting blog tours with Cedar Fort Publishing and Media for several years now, wherein their new blog tour publicist (Ms Sydney Anderson) also runs her own publicity touring company: Singing Librarian Book Tours (or SLB Tours for short!). I happily joined her team of book bloggers as a hostess in late Spring, 2018 wherein my first tours with her as a hostess began Summer, 2018. I appreciate reading INSPY literature and was happy to find these are most of the stories she is showcasing through SLB Tours! Most of her authors are published through Cedar Fort, though she does work with authors who are either Self-Published or Indie published through different publishers as well.
I received a complimentary copy of “The Secret of Haversham House” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Publishing & Media) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
To find out why I love Sweet Romances and the #PureRomance imprint you might like to check out my previous postings for Cedar Fort blog tours, wherein I related my love of Historical & INSPY stories on a previous blog tour featuring To Suit a Suitor, however, I have happily been reading the offerings of this particular imprint for quite a long while now. The stories which still stand out are as follows: ‘Willow Springs’, ‘The Darkest Summer’, ‘Unexpected Love (anthology)’ and ‘The Second Season’.
To follow through my readings, be sure to scroll through this tag Pure Romance!
A conversation with Julie Matern: Part I
What first drew your eye into Regencies and what were your favourite memories of reading your first Regency Romances? What attached yourself into them: the era, the lifestyle difference (upstairs/downstairs), the fashions or the historical backdrop and aesthetics?
Matern responds: I didn’t get into Jane Austen until after college – I was taking a French degree which required reading French Literature and there wasn’t time for much else. Quite honestly my connection to Austen’s books came as quite a surprise as I had been required to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronté at school when I was quite young and did not like it at all.
I decided then that those ‘old’ books were not for me. So when I chanced to read Pride and Prejudice as an adult I was amazed at how much I loved it almost immediately. I enjoyed Jane’s voice and her characters and the era itself – so polite and civilized. I found I couldn’t put the books down. I think they swept me back in time. Then television and movie studios began making the adaptations with the beautiful scenery and costumes and I was totally hooked. I have three daughters and I have converted two of them! (PS I love Jane Eyre now too!)
I believe our reading lives have their Seasons,… I struggled to get into both Bronté and Austen when I was younger – though why I hesitated to read either of them, is lost to time itself. I started to focus on reading ‘Pride’ when Keira Knightley’s film was released (finishing it in time to see it live at the theater!) whilst my reading progress into ‘Jane Eyre’ has taken nearly the full five years I’ve been a book blogger! I haven’t a clue as to why either, except I find myself distracted from the text more times than naught and this year, I’m determined to conclude my ruminative thoughts as I would very much like to read a sequel author’s trilogy! Wish me well!
Strangely, despite the hiccups I incurred with these authors, I was into Classical Children’s Lit throughout my younger years as well as Contemporary favourites like Carolyn Keene (of whom I hadn’t realised to much later was a pen name!) and the other authors I’ve listed on my Children’s Lit page! The way you’ve described why you love reading these stories is something I can relate to myself ‘being swept into the historic past’, ‘the authenticity of Austen’s voice’ and the ways in which the manners of her time were eloquently brought forward into her stories. You’ve summarised it rather lovely!
It is an interesting premise, to have a girl raised in the ton (aristocracy) who didn’t realise her lot was not officially cast in those circles – what inspired this choice of entry into her shift of acceptance from her peers?
Matern responds: Well, heritage is so very important to the nobility at this time. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is probably the best example of this attitude in Austen’s writing. She is horrified that Elizabeth isn’t enough of a lady for her nephew. In Persuasion, Anne is discouraged from marrying Captain Wentworth because he ranks beneath her and in Emma, the thought that Harriet might marry Mr. Knightley makes Emma ill.
I thought it would be an interesting study to examine the possible reaction of this class of people to someone they knew and loved as a lady, under the new information that she was actually not. Then the question was how can this be accomplished and a secret adoption seemed a natural vehicle.
I love how you’ve found an interconnection between the plottings of Ms Austen’s novels – of how birth origins and your status in society meant everything towards a well-matched marriage than the person’s character; second only to reputation, as this was equally a concern of the aristocracy! It is a bit how I was happily surprised Adoption is now an option for Royals where previously it was not allowed. A secreted adoption I believe is the only way it could have worked within the framework of the Haversham’s case due to the nature of how constricted they were by both society and family alike. Blessedly not due to their own beliefs, thoughts and convictions!
Self-identity is oft-times linked to our ancestral heritage – did your interest in ancestry play a key role in exploring Francesca’s soul-search for her own identifiable truth? How did you want to show who you are and who you believe you are are oft-times not the same person?
Matern responds: I have researched my own genealogical lines for over 40 years. I find it absolutely fascinating. There are hidden secrets in many people’s lines; my grandmother thought she was a year younger than she was; people lied to their fiances about their age so that they didn’t seem too much older than them and it is discovered by researchers like me generations later when we notice the discrepancy between the birth certificate and the marriage certificate; I know of someone who did not know she was born before her parents married, until after her parents died and she examined all the certificates. The truth can shake people to their foundations. Any revelation that changes what you have believed to be true about yourself creates a need to know everything, I believe. Ancestry.com is using this common need in their advertising to create interest in their DNA testing – people who find out that they have ethnicity in their family tree that they did not know about, for example, often begin a study of that ethnicity to understand it in an attempt to understand themselves better.
Adoption is not something I have direct experience of and in our day and age it is very open. In writing about Francesca’s emotions I tried to put myself in her shoes and imagine receiving the news that my mother was not my birth mother. It would spark an avalanche of emotions and confusion and a desire to seek out my birth relatives.
I do believe that ancestral heritage affects how we see ourselves and anchors us to our past, endowing us with a sense of connection to them and helping us have stronger self-esteem. My great-uncle died when he was 19 in WWI in France and my own grandfather almost died in the same war. Their sacrifice helps me feel that my family helped in the cause of freedom. My husband’s side has many pioneers who did extraordinary things under extremely difficult circumstances and it is very important to me that my children know about those on my side who fought and those on my husband’s side who sacrificed so much to connect them with these great heroic acts.
I’ve been blessed by having a Mum whose research into our own ancestral lines began 40+ years ago whereas my own journey as an #AncestrySleuth began roughly 10 years ago where we started to combine our efforts! It even led to a ‘match’ of finding living cousins in Sweden, of whom we thankfully had the chance to meet in Autumn 2017! We personally love the archives and the resources attached to FamilySearch.org as the services they provide are blessedly ‘free’ and all the information on Ancestry.com (which is a paid service) is available for ‘free’ as well as they share their databases. Towards that end, I even participated in a records updating weekend once which proved how tedious it is to update records and how thankful all of us are for the hours dedicated volunteers world-wide are giving to these records/databases to help us all interconnect with lost relatives and ancestral heritage (both living and dead).
Yes, and no. You’d be surprised — I knew in my early twenties I wanted to adopt my future children and despite being comfortable on my path, whenever I go to talk about how I intend to have children (through adoption) you’d be properly surprised how much negatively people project on you and how dedicated they are to tell you the choice you’ve made (for your own life, mind you!) is the wrong one! I never would have thought of all the topics and subjects the general public would feel the right to debate with you, the path you take towards mumhood would be one they would feel most inclined to argue!
Therefore, in many ways, I still see us a bit behind the times when it comes to Adoption – this is why there are many campaigns to re-think how people see adoption and how adoption is still not the option most families are willing to make to either expand or start their families. I wish it were different but the facts do not lie. We’re as closed-minded to adoption now as we were in the Regency in so many ways and that is something I hope will change within my lifetime.
I truly believe as you do – a healthier way forward is to know our past, to examine it, draw strength from it and to continue to ‘tell the living histories’ of our families if only to keep the voices of the past alive, present and acknowledged! I grew up with these kinds of stories myself and they re-etch an impression about yourself, your family and the legacies we all leave behind – some in larger ways than others but all of us have stories to share, tell and honour.
How did you decide on the surname Haversham? It is a rather unique choice and I was wondering if there might be a story behind it? Also, what is your process for selecting the names of your characters overall?
Matern responds: My husband, who is not English by birth, loves these types of quintessential English surnames and is often popping them into conversations. Haversham, Flaversham, Faversham. So it was a nod to him.
Choosing a name for a character is a bit like choosing a name for a baby – I want it to fit. Her name had to be Francesca because of the Italian-French connection so then I wanted a very English surname to pair it with. Then I say my character’s full names out loud to make sure they have a good ring to them.
I always want to use very traditional names as the first names of my characters. (Langley is not very traditional but is a name of an ancestor of mine so I felt I could use it.) Then I use google to search English surnames that have several syllables (these seem more regal to me) or I look through my family tree for the perfect name. Septimus Sladden is an actual ancestor of mine. The minute I found him I knew I was going to use that name in a book.
Charles Dickens was so very clever with his name choices and JK Rowling too, as often the name tells us about the character. I hope to be able to imitate that in the future.
OOh, I am so glad you’ve mentioned this!! As this is part of my own process for selecting names for my own characters! I even have a lovely Baby Name Book which is multi-ethnic and pulls names from various ethnic backgrounds world-wide as well as various spellings therein! I can go off in small tangents of research just to dig up the Etymology of the names I’ve chosen to see if perhaps, I was choosing the right ‘name’ so to speak at any given time! Much like I would if it were naming a child of mine, to see if I honed in on their personality and the potential they would have in life to fill the shoes behind the name.
I thought your idea of combining the Italian name for ‘French’ as a nod to both Francesca’s Italian heritage but French set Adoption was a stroke of brilliance!
I shall readily admit – when it comes to old English names, I am as addicted to them as your husband! This is one reason I am thankful I’m personally British three times to Sunday! The names and titles alone in my ancestral lines are lushly addictive to research!
Yes! Isn’t it interesting how the names of our ancestors take us by shocked surprise? I have many revelations like this on my own family tree – but also, of whom they were, where they were bourne and where they ended their lives as they moved round quite frequently!
Eighteen-year-old Francesca Haversham is privileged, beautiful, and naive. Lineage, titles, and wealth are the ultimate virtues among nineteenth-century English aristocracy, and Francesca is elite society's newest and most celebrated debutante from one of England's most illustrious families. Her pedigree is impeccable - or is it?
Her coming-out ball brings iwth it the appearance of one Mr. Langley Ashbourne, and Francesca is immediately taken in by his handsome features and flattering words. But not everything is as it seems, and flowery comments can only hide dark truths for so long. Meanwhile, a long-buried secret creeps ever closer to the light, one that would destroy her comfortable life, tarnish her family's character, and ruin all hopes of a reputable marriage.
Converse via: #Regency or #RegencyRomance, #HistFic or #HistoricalRomance
#INSPYRom, #SweetRomance OR #HistRom; #Adoption
About Julie Matern
Julie Matern is a resident of Utah. She attended the University of Exeter in Exeter, England, and graduated with a double major in French and Education. She was born and raised in England, moving to America after her marriage and is the mother of six children.
She has served in the PTA for over 20 years, taught tap dance, and enjoys amateur photography. She is the author of ‘British War Children’ (for which she received a “Recommended Read” award from the League of Utah Writers) and ‘British War Children 2: An Enemy Among Us’.
Acquired Book By: I happily have been hosting for Italy Book Tours alongside hosting for iRead Book Tours; however, it has been quite a few years since I’ve seen a novel come along for this touring company which I felt as excited about reading as ‘Kiss Carlo’! I will explain momentarily why this was the case, however, I was wicked enthused finding out I had been selected to be part of this lovely blog tour celebrating the title and the author! I received a complimentary copy of the book “Kiss Carlo” direct from the publisher HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
What initially drew my attention to read this novel:
The interesting back-story on this author, is I actually purchased two of the novels in her series focused on Big Stone Gap for my best friend. I never had the joy of giving my friend the novels (long story) nor did I read them, as that felt awkward; but I did watch the film through my local #library — it is such a wicked brilliant film, too! I encourage you to see this if you haven’t already – it has the soul of the author’s narrative voice threading throughout it’s heart. For me personally, the film was a better introduction to the author’s literary style.
When I saw this novel coming along for a blog tour, I didn’t hesitate to request a position on the tour – I *love!* multi-generational sagas which go through one family’s lineage; however, this one is ‘inter-generational’ as it’s the scope of the living relatives who are living through a generation together. Similar to how we all have immediate family whilst we’re alive – I didn’t read too much about this one, as I wanted to go into it a bit blind. I knew the girth of what the author can yield in her stories based on Big Stone Gap, but as soon as the book arrived in the Post, I did sneak glimpses of it’s pages!
I loved reading the additional bits (which I’ll discuss properly on my forthcoming review) however, what I can say now is this is quite literally inspired by the author’s family! Living histories are spoken about more regularly on my blog – of how writers are fusing their own histories into the fiction they are writing? Whether or not they go into the historic past, to centuries outside their living years or whether, like this author have kept the stories closer to the hip (so to speak) they are finding ways to impart the breadth of their own ‘story’ into the fiction their creating. I, for one, find this wicked inspiring and am so very thankful I caught sight of this blog tour because as soon as I first opened the novel, I had sense I’d become dearly attached to this family,… in a similar vein of attachment as I am to the O’ Connor’s by Julie Lessman.
From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativity—the story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.
It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.
Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.
From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.
Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.
Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.
I received a complimentary copy of “The Art of Deception” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
#MidnightChocLit No.6: a farewell to ChocLit novellas for now by ending with a beloved #HistFic novelist of Jorie’s who wrote a Contemporary Suspense novella that held her on the edge of her seat!
apparently well-timed with the return of #SherlockPBS, too! imagine!?
And, so my hours spent devouring #PocketChocLit Novellas ends as it began: a bookish girl with her wickedly delightful ChocLit tee, a star tattooed teddy and a ChocLit story to curl up inside to wick off hours of delish reading blissitude! This American ChocLit reader signs-off with a hopeful nod at seeing more #PocketChocLit in the future!
When I conceived of this idea – not just to coin these novella print editions by ChocLitUK with a quirky poem which speaks to the heart of what these portable editions represented to me personally, but the whole scope of what this particular blog series #MidnightChocLit encompassed gave me a leeway of showcasing not only a smidge of my bookish life ‘behind’ the blog but allowed me to delight in the wicked awesome joy of being a traditional reader (print or audio) who *finally!* could read the ChocLit novellas she’s dreamt of reading for two full years!
I cannot even properly express the burst of JOY fuelling my heart when I first opened my #ChocLitChristmas parcel – seeing all these lovely editions all tucked into a bubbler was a gift of happiness during a point in my life where reading & blogging (even tweeting, let’s face it!) was at a record ‘low’. These curiously portable Roms re-inspired me and re-invigorated me to pick up reading again after a wicked awful medical emergency in my family. I am not saying this lightly either – but #PocketChocLit gave me back my bookish joy!
What was incredible for me as a reader, was watching the difference between trying to read a novel (cannot tell you how many times I tried to read You’re the Cream in my Coffee) whilst still feeling the weight of the emotional trauma and stress still ever-present on the edge of my soul and not really truly feeling motivated to read at all. Then, these curious editions *pop!* into my life and the next minute, I’m grabbing my digital camera and the whole *blog series!* itself spun round the poem & tag of #MidnightChocLit was bourne!
In many ways, ChocLit novels have re-fuelled my spirit time and time again these past two years I’ve been a reviewer for the publisher. The uplift of reading Romances in today’s ever complicated and uncertain world is a bolt of #unputdownable joy for me. I have always loved reading Romances; even before my teen years as I hinted about previously I started reading Roms quite young (around eight or nine years!) and their ability to fuse relationship-based Romances into my bookish life has been a lifelong burst of joy. Finding ChocLit was a delish encounter and I am truly blessed to continue my journey with this publisher as the New Year emerges into view – as I embark into my 4th Year as a Book Blogger, I begin my 3rd Year as a ChocLit Reviewer!
Therefore, this blog series was a small way of ‘giving back’ some of the joy ChocLit authors have been giving me all along whilst trying to inspire more American Rom readers the delightful glee of finding realistically brilliant Romances for today’s voraciously particular reader! It also granted me a chance to share a bit more of a personal side of who ‘Jorie’ is and a small bit of her readerly life. Thank you for following me and taking this #MidnightChocLit journey with me!
I read *six!* ChocLit novellas Christmas Week & New Year’s – reading NO! devouring a healthy dose of Rom through the holidays with a ‘pocket of ChocLit’ in my bookish hands! Remember: I tweeted LIVE as I read ahead of posting these reviews! Do tweet me your reactions & add your commentary on the posts if your just discovering them for the first time! All posts are anchoured with the *live tweeting sessions* too for easy reference or sharing!
The Art of Deception Subtitle: All is not as it seems, beneath the Italian sun
Jenny O’Connor can hardly believe her luck when she’s hired to teach summer art classes in Italy. Whilst the prospect of sun, sightseeing and Italian food is hard to resist, Jenny’s far more interested in her soon-to-be boss, Max Castanien. She’s blamed him for a family tragedy for as long as she can remember and now she wants answers.
But as the summer draws on and she spends more time with Max, she starts to learn first hand that there’s a fine line between love and hate.