Thursday, May 26, 2016

G715 Book Review of Marlene by C.W. Gortner

Name of Book: Marlene

Author: C.W. Gortner

ISBN: 978-0-06-240606-4

Publisher: William Morrow

Type of book: 1914-1946, Marlene Dietrich, WWI, WWII, Hollywood, defiance, Nazism, California, USA, movie star, jobs, Great Depression, movies, unconventional, Berlin, unconventional life and lifestyle

Year it was published: 2016


A lush, dramatic biographical novel of one of the most glamorous and alluring legends of Hollywood’s golden age, Marlene Dietrich, from the gender-bending cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the lush film studios of Hollywood—a sweeping story of passion, glamour, ambition, art, and war from the author of Mademoiselle Chanel.

Raised in genteel poverty after the first World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family’s proper, middle class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, seductive silk cocktail dresses, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses, and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention.

For the beautiful, desirous Lili Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler and the Nazis rise to power, she sets sail for America. Rivaling the success of another European import, Greta Garbo, Marlene quickly becomes one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, starring with legends such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. Desperate for her return, Hitler tries to lure her with dazzling promises. Marlene instead chooses to become an American citizen, and after her new nation is forced into World War II, tours with the USO, performing for thousands of Allied troops in Europe and Africa.

But one day she will return to Germany. Escorted by General George Patton himself, Marlene is heartbroken by the war’s devastation and the evil legacy of the Third Reich that has transformed her homeland and the family she loved.

An enthralling and insightful account of this extraordinary legend, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged her own path on her own terms.


A lot of characters played big roles in the book, but the most important character is Marlene Dietrich. Marlene is best described as determined, defiant, a bit selfish when it comes to her personal life, unconventional and someone who doesn't discriminate between people. I feel as if Marlene eclipses other characters, or that the characters play a very secondary role to her. Few other important characters include her mother, Mutti, who is obsessed with cleaning and has a lot of pride in her ancestry and she is also conservative in beliefs. Von Sternberg is a director that collaborates with Marlene and both seem to have an interesting relationship of creator and muse with one another. Rudi is Marlene's "husband" who desires a conservative lifestyle of sorts while Marlene desires freedom and to not be tied down.


Live life as much as possible


The story is in the first person narrative from Marlene's point of view and its from 1914 up until 1946. I do think that some of the dialogue seems to be a bit cliched but its easy to ignore it when one gets caught up in Marlene's life of glamour and dark side of Hollywood. I was also surprised to learn that Marlene, even in Germany, supported Jewish artistic works and that after the infamous night she even went shopping at Jewish stores with her daughter! Also as well, Marlene really gives the new meaning to hedonism and she is everything but conventional.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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CW GortnerAbout C. W. Gortner

A former fashion executive, C. W. Gortner is a lifelong admirer of Coco Chanel. His passion for writing led him to give up fashion, and his many historical novels have been bestsellers, published in more than twenty countries. He lives in San Francisco.
Find out more about C.W. Gortner at his website and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


I don't know anything about Marlene, much less her name or her origins thus it was a true delight to receive this novel and get to know a movie star that is best described as fervent and delightful and I do hope that in real life she was passionate about thumbing her nose at Hitler and Germany. The author clearly shows his passion for Marlene because from the very first page and very first sentence of the book, I found myself seduced and as I went deeper and deeper, all I wanted to do is to keep on reading Marlene until the very last page. What I also enjoyed is that the character and writing style do not resemble Mademoiselle Chanel. It feel as if C.W. Gortner taps into these women's spirits and he is able to sculpt them to life with words.

This was received as a surprise by the publishing company

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G710 Book Review of 1906 by James Dalessandro

Name of Book: 1906

Author: James Dalessandro

ISBN: 0-965-44233-0

Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC

Type of book: April 1906, earthquake, disaster, San Francisco California, corruption, history, natural disaster, revenge, fire, early detective methods, work, family, friendships, relationships, Enrico Carusso, opera

Year it was published: 2004


Now available in paperback, James Dalessandro's "riveting account of corruption, greed, and murder in the City by the Bay" (Dallas Morning News) was a best-seller in hardcoverand production has begun on a major motion picture. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning historical novel reveals recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Narrated by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Post-Victorian city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battlefought even as the city burnsthat pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor. James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.


While a lot of characters had roles, the main characters would have been Annalisa Passarelli, Hunter Fallon, Christian Fallon, Kaitlin Staley, Adam Rolf and Mayor Schmitz. Annalisa Passarelli is of Italian ancenstry and a very plucky and resourceful young woman who isn't afraid of doing whatever she can to get the appropriate justice. Hunter Fallon is the younger brother of Christian and is college educated, but despite that, he is determined to follow in the footsteps of his father and older brother by becoming an officer. Christian Fallon is the elder brother of Hunter and he seems to be struggling with his own demons in terms of alcohol and tense relationships. Kaitlin Staley is another plucky young woman who is more than what she seems while Adam Rolf is one of the corrupt men that is involved with a lot of unsavory deeds and businesses. Mayor Schmitz is Adam's lackey and doesn't have a lot of backbone until the end to try to do what is right.


Powerful write or rewrite history


The story is written a bit awkwardly from both first and third person point of view. Basically its a story within a story. Annalisa Passarelli rejects to write an article that is positively biased towards the mayor and instead tells the story of the previous four days before the earthquake, which goes back to third person narrative. Throughout the story, with little to no warning, first person narrative of Annalisa is interjected and until the very end, for the story's sake, I wanted to know how Annalisa was able to travel through these diverse points of view.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

James Dalessandro was born in Cleveland Ohio, and educated at Ohio University and UCLA film school. In 1973 he founded the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ken Kesey, the nation’s largest literary event. He has written for Playboy, the Examiner newspapers, San Francisco magazine. He was writer of the House of Blues Radio Hour and created the nationally syndicated program “Rock On” with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. He has published four books: Canary in a Coal Mine (poetry); Bohemian Heart (noir detective fiction); Citizen Jane (True Crime); and 1906: A Novel (Historical Fiction). He is award winning writer/director/producer of the documentary film THE DAMNEDEST, FINEST RUINS (PBS/KQED), and writer/producer of the Hallmark Movie “Citizen Jane,” based on his book. He is screenwriter of “1906” the upcoming Pixar/Warner Brothers live action film based on his novel of the same name. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Katie and best pal Giacomo Poochini.



Its been 110 years since the infamous San Francisco Earthquake and fire. I have to be honest that prior to reading this book, the only things I knew about San Francisco Earthquake is that it happened in 1906, and that a lot of immigrants, Chinese men in particular, benefited from by being able to come to America and circumnavigate the anti-Chinese laws that existed at the time. What I didn't know is the corruption that was going on at the time before the earthquake struck. The story is both part thriller and part history and it does a good job in entertaining and educating the reader about what happened and what was going on during that pivotal era of American history.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 11
Blog Tour Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, April 14
Spotlight at The Reading Queen
Friday, April 15
Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book
Tuesday, April 19
Guest Post at The Writing Desk
Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne
Thursday, April 28
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Excerpt at Historical Fiction Addicts
Tuesday, May 3
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, May 4
Spotlight at Broken Teepee
Friday, May 6
Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Monday, May 9
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, May 12
Excerpt & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation
Friday, May 13
Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story
Tuesday, May 17
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, May 18
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, May 23
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Spotlight for The Florentine Deception by Carey Nachenberg

Book Description for The Florentine Deception:

A seemingly mundane computer clean-up leads to an electrifying quest for an enigmatic—and deadly—treasure in this gripping techno-thriller.

After selling his dorm-room startup for millions and effectively retiring at the age of twenty-five, Alex Fife is eager for a new challenge. When he agrees to clean up an old PC as a favor, he never expects to find the adventure of a lifetime waiting for him inside the machine. But as he rummages through old emails, Alex stumbles upon a startling discovery: The previous owner, a shady antiques smuggler, had been trying to unload a mysterious object known as the Florentine on the black market. And with the dealer’s untimely passing, the Florentine is now unaccounted for and ripe for the taking. Alex dives headfirst into a hunt for the priceless object.

​What starts out as a seemingly innocuous pursuit quickly devolves into a nightmare when Alex discovers the true technological nature of the Florentine. Not just a lost treasure, it’s something far more insidious: a weapon that could bring the developed world to its knees. Alex races through subterranean grottos, freezing morgues, and hidden cellars in the dark underbelly of Los Angeles, desperate to find the Florentine before it falls into the wrong hands. Because if nefarious forces find it first, there’ll be nothing Alex—or anyone else—can do to prevent a catastrophic attack.

The author is donating all of his proceeds from sales of The Florentine Deception to charities to help underprivileged and low-income students.

1,620 books sold,  $8,173.00 donated as of December 31st (with $182 pending)!

Let's help him reach his goal of selling 2,000 books and donating $10,000!
Visit to see the list of charities.

​Buy the audiobook:  Amazon  ~  Audible
Buy the book:   Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

Author's Bio:

Carey Nachenberg is Symantec Corporation's Chief Engineer and is considered one of the inventors of Norton AntiVirus. As Chief Engineer, Carey drives the technical strategy for all of Symantec's core security technologies and security content. He has led the design and development of Symantec's core antivirus, intrusion prevention and reputation-based security technologies; his work in these areas have garnered over eighty-five United States patents.

In addition to his work in the cyber-security field, Carey has also recently published his first novel, a cyber-security thriller entitled “The Florentine Deception,” and is donating all proceeds from sales of the novel to charities supporting underserved students and veterans. Carey holds BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from University of California at Los Angeles, where he continues to serve as Adjunct Professor of Computer Science.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook

Book Trailer:


Win 1 of 5 copies of The Florentine Deception, winners can choose between print, ebook or audiobook (open internationally)

Tour Schedule:

May 16 - Cheryl's Book Nook - spotlight / giveaway
May 16 - Corinne Rodrigues - spotlight / giveaway
May 16 - Bound 4 Escape - spotlight / giveaway
May 16 - Dab of Darkness - review / author interview / giveaway
May 17 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - review
May 17 - - spotlight / giveaway
May 17 - Words And Peace - spotlight / giveaway
​May 18 - T's Stuff - spotlight / giveaway
May 18 - Take It Personel-ly - review / author interview / giveaway
May 19 - Book Crazy Scrapbook Mama - spotlight / giveaway
May 19 - Fantastic Feathers - spotlight / giveaway
May 19 - Life as Leels - review
May 20 - Celticlady's Reviews - spotlight / giveaway
May 20 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - guest post
May 20 - Reading Authors - spotlight / giveaway
May 20 - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview
May 23 - Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes - spotlight / giveaway
May 23 - Ali - The Dragon Slayer - review / guest post / giveaway
May 23 - Deal Sharing Aunt - spotlight / giveaway
May 24 - Rockin' Book Reviews - spotlight / giveaway
May 24 - Blooming with Books - spotlight / giveaway
May 25 - Brooke Blogs - review / guest post / giveaway
May 25 - Book and Ink - spotlight / giveaway
May 25 - alwaysjoart - spotlight / giveaway
May 26 - the bookdragon - spotlight / giveaway
May 26 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - spotlight / giveaway
May 26 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
May 27 - Create With Joy - review / giveaway
May 27 - Bookworm for Kids - spotlight / giveaway
May 27 - Storeybook Reviews - spotlight / giveaway

Sunday, May 15, 2016

G709 Book Review of the rivals of Versailles by sally Christie

Name of Book: The Rivals of Versailles

Author: Sally Christie

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0299-8

Publisher: Atria Books

Part of a Series: The Mistresses of Versailles

Type of book: France, Rivals, Jeannette-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, history, 1730s, 1741-1764, Versailles, romance, Marie-Anne Nesle, Morphise, Rosalie, friendship, depravities

Year it was published: 2016


And you thought sisters were a thing to fear. In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie's clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.

I write this before her blood is even cold. She is dead, suddenly, from a high fever. The King is inconsolable, but the way is now clear.

The way is now clear.

The year is 1745. Marie-Anne, the youngest of the infamous Nesle sisters and King Louis XV's most beloved mistress, is gone, making room for the next Royal Favorite.

Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful girl from the middle classes. Fifteen years prior, a fortune teller had mapped out young Jeanne's destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King's arms.

All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals - including a lustful lady-in-waiting; a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters - she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.

Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe. History books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour, but one thing is clear: for almost twenty years, she ruled France and the King's heart.

Told in Christie's witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory.

Main characters include Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson who is Marquise de Pompadour. At the start of the book, she is someone who is youthful, passionate, determined and somewhat naive. She is also extremely loyal and dedicated as well as crafty and resourceful. Throughout the book, from the time she becomes a mistress to the end, we watch her grow and survive tragedies as well as continuing trying to maintain her fragile hold on Louis XV's heart and the power she has over the court. King Louis XV is much changed since The Sisters of Versailles. Gone is the shy uncertain King who doesn't want to cheat on his foreign wife, and instead here is someone who seems to be into hedonistic pleasures and is going deeper and deeper into depravities the reader would rather not know. One of the other mistresses is a very lustful young woman who sacrifices her chances for pleasures untold while another is a beautiful young girl from low classes who is naive and becomes captured in a dangerous web while the last is the airhead cousin with a beloved name who tries to use this name to capture the king's heart.


High pedigree and breeding have little meaning to surviving in court


The story is in first person narrative from Jeanne-Antoinette's point of view as well as the other three mistresses which include a lustful cousin to a friend, an extremely young girl involved in debauchery and an airhead with a famous name from the first book. In Sisters of Versailles the author manages to shock the readers with the story as well as the ignorance of life outside, and in this book, the shock still continues. I honestly couldn't believe some of the things I've read in there, such as valuing beauty over human life, and something much, much more distraughtful which I'd rather not divulge, as well as how lightly fidelity and marriage are taken seriously and how much power the king has. The voices are all individualized and ones that are not to be forgotten.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

About the Author

I’m a life-long history buff – and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I’d been writing (“writing”) ever since I was able to hold a pencil.
If you’d told my 12-year old self that I’d not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I’ve finally come full circle to where I think I should be.
I currently live in Toronto and when I’m not writing, I’m playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang).
For more information please visit Sally Christie’s website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.


I really don't have words to describe how astounded I am by this novel. Seriously, its an honor to read and review this masterpiece. I had the good luck of reading The Sisters of Versailles which involves King Louis XV and his first four mistresses, the Nesle sisters. In The Sisters of Versailles we meet the hesistant and troubled King Louis XV and see him through the eyes of Louise, Pauline, Diane and Marie-Anne as he starts going through a very rapid transformation. Continuing off, The Rivals of Versailles focuses a lot more on Jeanne Poisson, otherwise known as Marquise de Pompadour and in an odd way, the author seems to ask the readers a question; why did Marquise de Pompadour manage to survive living in Versailles while other mistresses tried but failed to stay in Versailles? Big majority of the story is from Marquise de Pompadour, and in this story she is extremely likable and a sympathetic character. Other women that become Louis XV's mistresses had memorable but brief lives at Versailles. I also feel as if the author is trying to rub it in with the other women character because other women weren't portrayed favorably and I imagine that it really must have burned when a middle class girl had a long life at Versailles while their lives were like supernovas; powerful, bright but too brief.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, May 1
Review at A Book Drunkard
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, May 2
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Wednesday, May 4
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Thursday, May 5
Review at Bookish
Monday, May 9
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Guest Post at
Tuesday, May 10
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, May 11
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway at History Undressed
Thursday, May 12
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, May 13
Review at
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Sunday, May 15
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)
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