Book Review–Loving Modigliani (Updated: Blog Tour and Sale through Feb 17th)

Diamond Level Read

See my previous review of Loving Modigliani below. I really enjoyed this one! Loving Modigliani is on sale starting Feb 14th through February 17th on Amazon. The ebook price has been reduced to $3.99. It’s a great time to pick up your copy (Amazon Link). As you can see from my raving review below, I highly recommend you check this out. I’ve joined another blog tour to help promote this great book. The tour schedule is:

February 8 – RABT Book Tours – Kick Off
February 8 – Readers Alley – Excerpt
February 9 – The Avid Reader – Interview
February 10 – Book Review Virginia Lee – Spotlight
February 11 – Teatime and Books – Spotlight
February 12 – Silver Dagger Book Tours – Spotlight
February 12 – The Indie Express – Review
February 13 – Dina Rae’s Write Stuff – Spotlight
February 14 – Jazzy Book Reviews – Excerpt
February 15 – Lynn Romance Enthusiast – Excerpt
February 15 – Bonnie Reads and Writes – Review
February 16 – Momma Says to Read or Not to Read – Spotlight
February 17 – A Slice of Orange – Guest Post
February 18 – Quirky Book Reads – Review
February 19 – Nesie’s Place – Spotlight
February 19 – RABT Reviews – Wrap Up

REVIEW

Loving Modigliani is one of those books that is so good that I don’t feel my review will do it justice. It is so good that I stopped halfway through and bought it in print version because I only had an electronic copy. I always keep print copies of my favorite books. It is so good that I didn’t want to put it down, and I was sad when it was finished. It made me realize that if I ever write a book I need to demand this type of excellence in my own work. I even created a new Category on this blog, Diamond Level Reads, for books that are beyond special. Below is my humble attempt at a review and my bow to an accomplished author, Linda Lappin, who has woven together a remarkable piece of fiction based on real events.

It is Paris, 1920. It is also Jeanne Hébuterne’s day of death, 48 hours after her common-law husband, Amedeo Modigliani, died of meningitis. Modigliani was an early 20th Century artist of post impressionist inspired portraits and nudes who died basically destitute, but became famous years later. As the book begins, we meet Hébuterne on the street where her body lies after she fell or jumped, despondent and hugely pregnant, out of a window. We follow her spirit to a wheelbarrow rumbling through the streets of 1920’s Paris, which is described in such detail that we feel we are there. We watch along with Hébuterne’s spirit as her belongings are stolen, including her diary, a bangle, and a family portrait. We flash back with her to her life with Modigliani and her own growth as an artist. We cheer her as she struggles to move forward and begins to search the afterlife for her beloved “Modi.” 

In a separate timeline in the 1980s, an art student stumbles upon some long hidden secrets and is given a window into the life of Jeanne Hébuterne. What will she do with this information and who will try to stop her?

This is an amazing historical novel with sub-genres of fantasy, mystery, and the paranormal. It is a tribute to the art world of Paris, specifically the post-impressionist era of the early 1900s. Linda Lappin’s ability to describe the sights, sounds, and smells of 1920’s Paris transports us there immediately. Her portrayal of the art and artists of that time is meticulously researched. Her ability to create a work that seamlessly binds together history, mystery, fantasy, and the paranormal is awe-inspiring. Her characters are so real you can see them, feel them, love them, and hate them. Lappin’s description of Hébuterne’s afterlife is full of unexpected turns, pitfalls, and surprises with huge nods to the art world. The realities of Jeanne’s life with Modigliani are shown to us, from infidelity to drunkenness to abuse and neglect, but above all we are shown Jeanne’s all-consuming love for this man, so well described in this book. Lappin shares the spirit and talent of Jeanne Hébuterne in so many ways, through her art, her music, and her steadfast determination and willingness to buck the rules of society. I wish I could speak more of the last line of the book without giving out any spoilers, but it is a perfect ending, tying everything together.

My personal rules for historical novels, regardless of sub-genre, is that they must transport me to that time and place. Loving Modigliani did this instantly. They must also teach me something, and I learned so much about the 1900s Paris art scene that I am interested in exploring it further. 

Although I was given a free digital copy via Netgalley, I also bought a print copy on Amazon. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

About the Author:

Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.

Buy the book on Amazon

Buy the book on Barnes and Noble

Purchase on Ibooks

Visit Linda Lappin’s Website

Visit My Goodreads Review

My Amazon Review (Helpful Votes Appreciated If You Are So Inclined)

Things We Didn’t Say

Diamond Level Read

This was #2 on my list of My Top 7 Books of 2020. Again, Historical Novels Review must have agreed with me because this book was another of their Editor’s Choices. It is the writing debut of the talented Amy Lynn Green, who managed to create a compelling story and vivid characters in a 100% epistolary novel. It is a work of art.

REVIEW

It is 1944, and Johanna Berglund has been accused of treason. She submits in her defense a collection of letters that will prove her innocence. The letters begin with Johanna as a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota. Fluent in German and several other languages, she is recommended to work as a translator at an Army POW camp near her home. She flatly refuses because she has other plans and dreams of going to Oxford. Pressure from the government and her parents eventually forces her to go. She begins her work as a translator and starts to enjoy it, despite criticism from some of the local populace about “aiding the enemy.” She is given more responsibility and asked to teach an English class, and she starts to feel compassion for the prisoners. When a nefarious plot causes untrue accusations against Johanna, she learns to truly lean on God.

This is an epistolary novel, comprised completely of letters, articles, and other written communication. We watch Johanna’s character develop from a rather vain and secluded student to to a woman of faith, although it takes some hard times to get her there. We meet her friends, family, and community, and we watch her grow as a person. And we learn that there were, in fact, German POW camps in the United States during World War II. I was captivated by this book, which was so well written that the personalities of the characters shone, and their individual nuances were conveyed expertly through their letters. I don’t think many writers can share such an amazing story and well developed characters in epistolary style, so I was surprised that this is Amy Lynn Green’s debut novel. I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House via Netgalley for Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Lynn Green

Amy Lynn Green is a lifelong lover of books, history, and library cards. She worked in publishing for six years before writing her first historical fiction novel, based on the WWII home front of Minnesota, the state where she lives, works, and survives long winters. Because of her day job in publicity, she has taught classes on marketing at writer’s conferences and regularly encourages established and aspiring authors in their publication journeys. In her novels (and her daily life), she loves exploring the intersection of faith and fiction and searches for answers to present-day questions by looking to the past.

If she had lived in the 1940s, you would have found her writing long letters to friends and family, listening to jazz music, daydreaming about creating an original radio drama, and drinking copious amounts of non-rationed tea. (Actually, these things are fairly accurate for her modern life as well.)

Be sure to interact with her on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for her newsletter to stay up-to-date on her latest releases.

BUY THINGS WE DIDN’T SAY ON AMAZON

VISIT AMY LYNN GREEN’S WEBSITE

No Ordinary Thing

Diamond Level Read

No Ordinary Thing was #1 on my list of my Top 7 Books of 2020. At the time I made that post, I couldn’t post the review because I was required to wait for it to be published on the Historical Novel Society website. The time has finally come when I can post my review, which is below. The Historical Novel Society must have agreed with me on this one, because they made this book one of their Editor’s Choices. For this blog, I gave it my extra “diamond” rating because I think it’s over and above 5 stars. It’s historical fiction with a time travel twist, which is my absolutely favorite thing to read.

REVIEW

No Ordinary Thing by G.Z Schmidt is a delightful middle grade time travel fantasy. It is 1999 and Adam lives at his uncle’s bakery, the Biscuit Basket, in New York City. Adam is missing his parents, who passed away years earlier in a plane crash. Then a mysterious stranger visits, holding a snow globe. He tells Adam that adventures await him, and that he should go up to the attic. When he does, Adam finds the snow globe, which immediately takes him back in time to Times Square in 1935 and then later a candle factory in 1967. Adam soon realizes the people and places he is visiting are all connected, more magical objects exist, and a dark presence wants to control it all.

I adored this wonderful, enchanting time travel adventure. The characters are so well developed and the plot is very engaging. The author’s ability to connect characters from different backgrounds and time periods will leave you spellbound. Every time travel story has to have a means of or explanation for the time travel, and this one does it so well. The snow globe is sometimes curiously blank, but then the traveler’s destination will appear without warning and the holder will be whisked away to another time. This book is everything that fans of fantasy and time travel could wish for. It is a magical journey that will appeal to people of all ages. It is one of those books that I will read over and over again, and I will remember fondly the first time I read it. I can’t wait to share it with others and I sincerely hope I see this world and these characters again.

I received a free hardcover copy of this book from Holiday House via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

G.Z. Schmidt

Gail Zhuang Schmidt was born in China and immigrated to the U.S. when she was six. She grew up in the Midwest and the South, where she chased fireflies at night and listened occasionally for tornado/hurricane warnings. She received her BA in Economics from Wellesley College in New England. After working for four years as an analyst, she began her new chapter in life by moving to Europe. She currently lives in Switzerland with her husband and their tuxedo cat.

She fell in love with reading after discovering the Arthur books by Marc Brown. Her first stories were written in a spiral-bound notebook in third grade.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys going to museums, playing the violin, biking, and eating pizza.

Buy No Ordinary Thing on Amazon

Link to My Goodreads Review