"Is there a family in history more dazzling, dangerous and notorious than the Borgias?
A powerhouse of the Italian Renaissance, their very name epitomizes the ruthless politics and sexual corruption of the Papacy.
The father, Pope Alexander VI, a consummate politician and a man with a voracious appetite both as Cardinal and Pope.
The younger Juan, womanizer and thug, and their lovely sister, Lucretia, whose very name has become a byword for poison, incest and intrigue.
But how much of the history about this remarkable family is actually true, and how much distorted, filtered through the age old mechanisms of political spin, propaganda and gossip?
What if the truth, the real history, is even more challenging?"
Blood & Beauty. Oh, Blood & Beauty. This historical fiction is epic, filled with everything that is compelling, dramatic, and enthralling. Which is typical Sarah Dunant flair.
This book follows the Borgias, notorious Papal dynasty of the Italian Renaissance. It covers only about 20 years of their history, which leaves me hungering for the next book (this was written in 2012, and the author's note indicates the journey will continue).
It is brimming with political intrigue, family drama, machinations, love, jealousy...I could not stop reading it. And it's so well-developed that I pitied, then hated, then loved each character, by turns.
I recommend this for any and all fans of Sarah Dunant, historical fiction (especially Italian Renaissance), political intrigue, family dramas (especially in powerful families), and the rare occurrences of empowered women in patriarchal societies and their struggles and triumphs.
Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
As a lover of color, I am a lover of jewelry and I wear it every day (rings and earrings primarily, sometimes necklaces).
So when Tomoson offered to let me review Majestical Jewelry, I accepted. The photos of their necklaces look gorgeous, and they describe themselves as "a high fashion online only jewelry store specializing in handmade jewelry and statement pieces."
They go on to say they'll take a look at my blog and pick a piece from their collection that matches me.
Majestical jewelry, I feel insulted.
They sent me a pair of old-lady 1980's-style plastic hoop earrings.
The 'brushed gold' part is metal (and heavy) & scratched up (is this supposed to look antique? It just looks old and pre-used). The mottled brown circles are plastic.
They clunk a bit, and have this odd hole bored in them (which makes me think they were salvaged off another pair of earrings).
They are too heavy for me to wear (look at how they pull my earlobe! I hate that).
The posts are bent (and they were shipped to me on an earring card, in a box, so I doubt that happened in transit).
I am flabbergasted that they call this high-end jewelry. This is a pair I'd expect to find in a Goodwill, and pay less than $5 for.
I know there's a fine line between statement jewelry and too clunky to wear, but this pair is just cheap costume jewelry.
And I can't see how anyone can look at my blog and think "mottled brown plastic", or look at any picture of my face and think wide hoops (you see my double chin and barely-existent jawline, right?). So I assume they lied about that, and sent bloggers whatever they had lying around.
Save your money and avoid Majestical Jewelry, whose pieces are suspect in quality and WAY overpriced.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
The Artifact Hunters tour features Nefertiti's Heart and Hatshepsut's Collar by A.W. Exley, a new adult Mystery/Steampunk series. Check out the tour page for the full list of tour stops.
Nefertiti's Heart (Artifact Hunters #1) by A.W. Exley Page Count: 284 pages Published: February 4th, 2013 by Curiosity Quills Press Genre: NA/Mystery/Steampunk
Recommended Age: 16 and up
Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.
London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the
strange death of her father – sell off his damned collection of
priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start
dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through
their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal
beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to
Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a
connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere
in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized diamond with
strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life,
notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his
desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she
could figure out his motive.
Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem. In a society where
everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure
out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.
Hatshepsut's Collar (Artifact Hunters #2) by A.W. Exley Page Count: 274 Published: November 13th, 2013 by Curiosity Quills Press An ancient Egyptian artifact is driving Queen Victoria insane, and that’s not top of Cara Devon’s growing list of problems.
Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is a man of numerous secrets, but there is one in particular that threatens his fledgling relationship with Cara. Stunned by Nate’s revelation, and before she can absorb the ramifications of his actions, he is arrested, charged with treason and imprisoned in the grim Tower of London. He stole something the mad queen wants, and only has days to deliver, before his date with the executioner.
Although sorely tempted, Cara can’t let him die on Tower Green, not when their connection means she would share his fate.
Only together can Cara and Nate figure out how to wrestle Hatshepsut’s Collar from around the queen’s neck, before she plunges Britain into a world war. The search for answers sends Cara to the opulent Winter Palace of St Petersburg and the frozen depths of Siberia, with every step shadowed by an enemy with his own dark plans.
Anita Exley's Biography:
Books and writing have always been an enormous part of A.W. Exley’s life.
She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.
Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.
Nefertiti's Heart is an interesting mix of Victoriana steampunk, serial killer thriller, sexy romance (not explicit, but steamy), and supernatural drama. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, initially- it took some time to like Cara (although when in doubt, add a dirirble pirate) but eventually I came around to her. I'd find myself thinking "tsk tsk...you should trust Fraser with that information" and then two chapters later Cara would say that. There are a lot of rich side characters (Amy and Helene are two favorites) and some plot feints. Although it has the elements of a thriller, the focus is firmly on Cara and her dealing with the mystery (and her past), instead of cops-chasing-killers. I also found the villain to be reasonable, a "whackadoodle" (as Cara puts it) shaped that way by nature and nurture, instead of some mustache-twirling paragon of evil. I would recommend this for fans of adventure, Victoriana, steampunk, female protagonists, steamy PG-13 romance, and supernatural stories with a tinge of historic element to them.