My job today is to bang the big book drums. I got roped in to be a part of the blog tour for Edy Graziani’s new book Alice – Angel of Time.
Nah, I totally didn’t get roped in. I volunteered. Because it’s a great book, and what’s more, it’s the sequel to another great book, so that’s two great books. Impressive, my math skills, aren’t they?
(TLDR version of this blog post: The book is wonderful. Read it. Or read all of Edy’s books. Here’s her Amazon author page. If you want to win it, scroll down to the first of the pretty pictures. Blog tour continues tomorrow on the lovely L. Lombard’s website.)
Let’s start with part one. Alice of the Rocks. I’ll admit, I was sorta tempted to read that as Alice on the Rocks, but it’s not a pun about a drink, it’s an allusion to a painting by Leonardo da Vinci – the Madonna of the Rocks. Leonardo himself is indeed one of the main characters in the book… which came quite unexpected. You see, I went into this book the way I usually do – without much of a clue what it was about. I’m the world’s worst blurb reader. All I knew was, it’s YA, there’s time travel, and there’s a character named Alice. That was enough to get me interested.
Yeah, I might be slightly biased where the name Alice is concerned. But she could have been named Crigglekwurts or something equally hideous (no offense meant if that’s actually your name, I just typed random letters here), it wouldn’t change just how absolutely wonderful this book is. Halfway through, I tried to force myself to slow down. It didn’t work. It’s the kind of book you just can’t leave, you only put down if you absolutely have to, and you get angry with anyone or anything trying to keep you away from it. The world the author created – partly in 1512 Florence, partly in 2029 Italy and Canada – is so rich, so immersive, you’re not reading the book, you’re living it. Just to give an example of how deeply I got sucked in: I read until 2 in the morning (something the wise, adult part of me very rarely allows) and then fell asleep so entangled in the story’s threads, in my dreams, I was in the book.
Some authors will add a lot of detail and it just reads descriptive. Others add a lot of detail and it comes alive. E. Graziani is definitely one of the latter category. The plot was 100% predictable – in that I always knew what the end result would be – but it was nevertheless thrilling to discover just how it would come about.
The author’s writing style is beautiful, sometimes archaic and highly poetic, and the characters – especially Leonardo da Vinci himself – are perfectly developed and authentic human beings.
I’ve been told it’s romance, but from my point of view, it’s not. Most romance I’ve read is cheesy bordering on or downright crossing into pointless. So this isn’t romance, it’s love. Love is real. Love is understood. Love is necessary.
The one miniature beef I had with the story is, a person from 1512 can hardly step into 2029 and understand/be understood by the people they’ll meet there without the slightest problem. That’s the one point where I had to suspend disbelief, but I was very willing to do that. The rest is flawlessly executed. Kudos to the extensive research into Renaissance history that must have gone into this.
I finished book one and dove straight into book two. Everything I said about Alice of the Rocks applies to Alice – Angel of Time in equal measure. The author has a brilliant knack to pull you into her world, so much so, I pronounced Alice’s name in my head in Italian even as I was reading the book in English. The writing flows still as beautifully, still as effortlessly, and the characters are vibrantly alive. I was more than loathe to leave this book, especially since I’m not sure how the story could possibly be continued – the ending, as it is, feels good and right and final. Ah well, guess I’ll just have to read both books again. And again.
Now you’ve had enough of my blabbing and want to win the book, right? Right. And you can. Only…not yet. The lovely people at Morning Rain Publishing told me that there will be a giveaway on Goodreads, but it’s not live yet and only will be seven days hence. But that was two days ago, so – math skills again! – you still have to wait five more days, and I don’t have a link for you yet. Best check their website regularly, they’ll have the link there the instant the giveaway starts.
In the meantime, why not meet Edy herself? She was kind enough to answer my usual stupid question without batting an eyelid.
Well, hello. Who are you?
My name is Edy Graziani, hence the E. I am a teacher, author, speaker and what I consider a life-long learner. I love incorporating strong female characters into my writing, to help inspire my readers. I’ve worked with the Alzheimer Society of Canada to raise awareness and educate people regarding this disease. I regularly speak to young people about my books, inspiration for writing and the publishing process. I have written three books, Alice of the Rocks and Alice-Angel of Time for young adults and Jess Under Pressure, a women’s fiction novella for Morning Rain Publishing. I’ve also written War in My Town, published by Second Story Press, which was selected by Canadian Children’s Book Centre as one of their “Best Books for Kids and Teens” in the Fall of 2015.
Quite impressive. Where are you?
I live in Ontario, Canada with my husband and four daughters.
How are you?
I am doing really well, thanks!
Now tell us about this wonderful new book of yours.
I suppose I can’t really talk about my new release, Alice-Angel of Time, without at least leading in with a brief descrition of Book I, Alice of the Rocks.
Book I, ALICE OF THE ROCKS, connects the stories of two young couples who fall in love, one in Renaissance Florence and the other in Florence of the near future, 2029. The love stories play out simultaneously, with both couples coming to grips with very different obstacles. ALICE OF THE ROCKS is a romance-filled, adventurous and suspenseful ride with twists and turns, as, with the help of Leonardo da Vinci, the young lovers journey through a rift in time to overcome the villainous Medici, restore their innocence and come to terms with their future.
Book II, Alice- Angel of Time, opens with Alice, back home, watching a small video she captured of herself and Claudio when she was in Italy. Ali tries to go about her day in high school, doing her assignments, etc., without thinking of her one true love, Claudio, but it is difficult – everything reminds her of him. Quite by fluke, she is in a library researching a paper, when she encounters a rare book exhibit and in one book she finds a devastating reference to Claudio Moro. Realizing that they made a huge mistake in assuming that he would live a long life she must find a way back to save him.
Why did you write it?
I felt it important to continue the story as the first book ended with a cliffhanger. Having a strong role model to inspire young women and girls is something I always try to encourage in my students. Alice is a feisty female protagonist who goes back in time to save her young man, which is quite against the grain as we’re so used to it being the other way around.
Both books are very clearly YA. What do you think makes them especially appealing for that audience?
I like writing for young people – It was challenging at first, but then I came to really enjoy writing for the Young Adult genre. Young readers don’t want to have adults’ opinions forced upon them, but at the same time, as an author, you are trying to deliver an overall message. I like to entertain as I write, but I also write with a purpose and I think that is what makes my books appealing – to all audiences actually.
When I write, I don’t “feel” a certain age – I think the important thing with any story is to write it from your heart. Readers can ‘see right through you’ if you’re not being honest in your craft.
Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?
Everywhere and anywhere, from anyone. I read an interesting quote once – “I’m a writer – anything you say or do can be used in my next novel.”
Ha. True. So do you do that, use the people around you? Or do parts of you shine through?
Much of me shines through – my thoughts, my ideas, my opinions – but not all. It can’t be all me, otherwise my characters would all be the same. Plus, my daughters give me ideas! When I hear them talking or whatever, I tap into what they they are saying, which definitely makes the task of writing for the teenage audience much easier.
Okay, one question completely off topic. What’s your favorite book of all time and why?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – it transcends time and focuses on human emotions, all-consuming love, obsession, self destruction, classism…I could go on and on.
And a silly question to wrap it up. If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
To not require sleep. There are just too many things I want to do in one day!
And that’s it. Once again, here’s Edy’s author page on Amazon, you’ll find the books there. When you’ve read them, please remember to leave a review. Authors like reviews. Also, Edy is on Facebook and Twitter. She’ll love to hear from you.
The blog tour continues tomorrow over at L. Lombard’s place.