Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer | Review #TimelessTour @SimonSchusterCA

The last stop for me on the Timeless Tour is a review for Melodie Winawer's The Scribe of Siena! Hope you've enjoyed my stops on this tour and that you've visited the other bloggers along the way. Also, if you've loved learning about these books and authors then come join us for an Twitter Chat with the authors May 4th @ 1PM EST #TimelessTour.

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer
Published: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 464
Received: for honest review via publisher

Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined—a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.

After uncovering the journal and paintings of Gabriele Accorsi, the fourteenth-century artist at the heart of the plot, Beatrice finds a startling image of her own face and is suddenly transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her, one that will soon be hit by the Plague.

Yet when Beatrice meets Accorsi, something unexpected happens: she falls in love—not only with Gabriele, but also with the beauty and cadence of medieval life. As the Plague and the ruthless hands behind its trajectory threaten not only her survival but also Siena’s very existence, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs.

The Scribe of Siena is the captivating story of a brilliant woman’s passionate affair with a time and a place that captures her in an impossibly romantic and dangerous trap—testing the strength of fate and the bonds of love.

In the past, I'd only really read historical fiction set in England or France. I've read one other set in Italy, so I was pretty excited to visits a different area set there. I absolutely loved the way Ms. Winawer wrote about Siena both present and past - such beautiful descriptions, but not overwhelming with too many details. It was perfectly balanced.

I found that Beatrice's story involved her life of medicine, her love of history and art with her ability to finally find love.What a combination for a historical time travel story. I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the time travel aspect as it was supposed to be a historical fiction story, but it works so well in this book. Not only do we get to learn a bit about what her brother, Ben, was researching before his death, but we get to see Beatrice experience it first hand. How amazing would that be? She stays pretty calm considering she jumps back in time, but I think that was the best use of her medical/scientific background that allowed her to assess things and move forward with thought out ideas and not panic like many others would have.

What is most amazing about Beatrice is her ability to adapt and use her skills for whatever comes her way. As a neurosurgeon, she was very focused and intuitive (especially with her "empathy" power she seems to use to save people). As a historian, she gets to business trying to finish what her brother started (learning about the plague that hit Siena in 1437) and was enjoying getting back to her roots and teachings from her brother. And finally, as a scribe in medieval Siena, she can use both her previous skill sets to fit into 14th century Italy. I was just amazed at all of this. I also think that she felt like maybe she belonged more to one time over another, but which one?

Besides the lovely written history of Siena, there is also the descriptive artwork mentioned throughout the story. It is written in such a way that you can picture these beautiful pieces in your mind. And as an added bonus, we find that Beatrice falls for an artist, Gabriele, who's journal she used to accidentally transport her to his time. 

The Scribe of Siena is such an amazing look at medieval Italy with it's interesting history, beautiful artwork and terrifying plague. I'd love another chance to learn more about Italian history via other historical fiction stories. 

About the Author:
Melodie Winawer is a physician-scientist and Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia University. A graduate of Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University with degrees in biological psychology, medicine, and epidemiology, she has published forty-seven nonfiction articles and book chapters. She is fluent in Spanish and French, literate in Latin, and has a passable knowledge of Italian. Dr. Winawer lives with her spouse and their three young children in Brooklyn, New York. The Scribe of Siena is her first novel. -Source

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dealbreakers: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book


Last week was the top ten things that make me WANT to read a book, so it's perfect that this week is the things that make me NOT WANT to read a book.
Dealbreakers: Things That Make Me NOT Read A Book

I made my first infographic style image for this TTT post. What do you all think of it? 


I can`t help it. There are some very terrible covers out there and I am not ashamed to say that I will shy away from them. I love pretty covers, fun typography, interesting colour combinations. 

Boring Blurbs

If the summary or blurb for your book doesn`t grab me, then I`ll probably pass it over. I need something to catch my attention and draw me in. Something to make me what to know more.


I read pretty much any genre of book, but sometimes I find non-fiction to be the hardest one to enjoy. Yes, there are times when I`ve found a really good non-fiction book, but generally I am not into them. 


I`m sure we`ve all had our fair share of jerks or catty girls in our time. I am so over them. Time to move along. 


The first few times I read this type of romance I was okay with it. But now as I`m older, it`s so unrealistic and I can`t really stand it. 

Turtle vs Hare

I`m a Mom who has little time to read as it is, so a slow paced book sometimes makes me fall asleep. And sometimes if it`s a decent story but slow going, I`ll skim parts to get to the good stuff. Time is precious now, so I won`t waste any of it. 

400+ pages

I`m not a fan of really long books. Yes, there are some amazing ones and I do plan to read one hopefully this year (Gone With The Wind – it was my Mom`s copy – and I have her copy of Scarlet as well), but like I said before.... Mom with little reading time. Also, so many books so little time. 

Negative Reviews

This one is 50/50. If there are a ton of negative reviews on a book that I`m iffy on anyway, I`ll probably skip it. If it`s one that I was really excited about I`ll either move it down the TBR list or borrow from library so as not to waste my hard earned money on a book I`m not sure I`ll like. 


See Jerks above. 

Long Series

Everyone tells me to read the Game of Thrones or Outlander series. But OMG they seem so long. And now I can just watch the shows... so... probably won`t get to the shows anytime soon either. I do have a few book series that are long running that I enjoy, but I don`t plan to start any new ones. 

What are your deal breakers?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Goodreads Tag

I stumbled upon a new-to-me book blogger, Amanda's Words, when reading the message boards on Goodreads for my local library. And while checking out her blog I noticed this awesome Goodreads book tag and just had to do it! I'm not tagging anyone, but feel free to play along if you like. (Originally found by Amanda as a YouTube tag by Peter Monn).

1. What was the last book you marked as ‘read’?

Audiobook - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling (library book)
Print - Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2) by Brenda Drake (library book)

2. What are you currently reading?

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan- release date May 2, 2017
The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (review book for Timeless Tour)

3. What was the last book you marked as ‘TBR’?

For Review:  The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro - release date June 6, 2017
For Fun: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Original Screenplay) by JK Rowling

4. What book do you plan to read next?

For Review: Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley
Reread: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (audiobook)

5. Do you use the star rating system?

I try to, but I find it hard to give a star rating. That's why you won't see star ratings on my reviews on my blog. I decided not to rate them with stars and just let me words say what needs to be said about the books, but on Goodreads I try to pick the closest I can, though I wish there were 1/2 star ratings.

6. Are you doing a 2014 Reading Challenge?

It's 2017 now and I am doing the challenge. My goal is set at 60 books this year, which is higher than last year but lower than previous years. Last year I was pregnant and had no ability to concentrate on reading so audiobooks became my best friends when I wasn't watching Netflix and this year I'm on maternity leave for part of the year (only a few months before I go back to work) and I think I'll be able to fit my reading in at lunch hour at work and audiobooks in the car.

7. Do you have a wishlist?

Yes, I have a wishlist on Goodreads that I am constantly updating. Either deleting books I'm not as interested in anymore or adding tons of new ones after reading blog posts from fellow book bloggers! I even have a wishlist for my daughter, Spencer.

8. What book do you plan to buy next?

Tough question. I've been receiving a lot of review books lately and using the library a ton. I've been trying not to buy any books lately, but if I were to pick one up I think it would be something I've read before - probably Fangirl, Eleanor & Park, Carry On or Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell. I love her writing and am not sure why I don't already own these books.

9. Do you have any favorite quotes, would you like to share a few?

"Words save our lives, sometimes." -Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the end of the Lane
"Nothing good is easy." -Rainbow Rowell, Landine
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." -Gabriele Zevin, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
"Have you ever noticed that far too often the best people in the world lack power." -Matthew Quick, The Good Luck of Right Now

10. Who are your favorite authors?

Rainbow Rowell, Courtney Summers, Kathy Reichs, to name a few.

11. Have you joined any groups?

 I am a part of a few groups, however, I'm not as active as I'd like to be. I should really remedy this and start participating more!Audiobook Challenge, County of L&A Library Book Club, and Oh Canada.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Timeless Tour Discussion | #TimelessTour @SimonSchusterCA

Today I'll be answering the discussion questions about the three books for the Timeless Tour.

What was your favourite historical time period among the Timeless Tour reads? Did you know anything about this period before you began reading the book?

I think the time period I enjoyed the more was the era during Promises to Keep as I really don't know a lot about this time in Canada or about the Acadians. I actually want to learn more about this part of Canadian history now. I did know a bit about Versailles and the royalty from this time, though I didn't know about Louis' mistresses. And I hadn't really read much about medieval time and the plague so that is always interesting as well.

How did the historical events in each book influence the character’s choices and personalities?

I would have to say that the things happening in all of the main characters' lives just proved to make them more resilient and resourceful. Jeanne grew up poor and used her beauty to get her to her desired place in society, yet used her gained knowledge and beauty to stay there. Amelie was determined to keep her family safe and did anything and everything she could to ensure that it happened. Beatrice uses her intelligence to her benefit. (I'm still reading The Scribe of Siena as my review is due next week so I'm not 100% done learning about Beatrice yet).

If you could invite one of the Timeless Tour leading ladies (Beatrice, Jeanne, or Amelie) to dinner, who would you choose and why?

I'd pick Amelie, because I'd love to hear more about the Acadian way of life and her time growing up side by side with the Mi'kmaq. It seemed quite idyllic before the English arrived. I've already learned quite a bit about Versailles and visited the palace when I went to Paris and though learning about the plague from Beatrice would be very interesting, I think I'm just drawn to learning more history about my own country first. Plus, I feel a bit of a kinship to Amelie.

The Scribe of Siena starts in the present before Beatrice is transported back in time to 1347, whereas Promises to Keep and Enemies of Versailles are firmly rooted in one timeline. How did this change your reading experience?

I'm not quite done reading this book yet, but I don't think it really changed anything as most time travel books that I've read start in the present and flip back and forth. So I don't mind that in a book. Sometimes I find it more exciting reading about two different time periods that one character has the chance to be a part of. It's also interesting to see them adapt. 

In the past, powerful women have been written out of textbooks. How do the protagonists of the Timeless Tour reads challenge the misconception that women in history were passive, submissive and dependent?

Funny how history books make women sound like they were all passive, submissive and dependent when I really think there were a lot more who tried to be independent and make their voices heard. I think all three women overcame the exact things that were meant to keep them dependent in the first place. Jeanne rose to a more prominent role in society, Amelie spoke her mind often - even to the soldiers and from what I've read so far Beatrice doesn't shrink back from the challenge of being thrown in the past. I think they all do a fantastic job of crushing the misconception of women in those time periods and we need to read about more like them.

Have you read any of these books? What are your answers to the questions above? Any thoughts on the stereotypes of passive women in history? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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