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Blog Tour: Color Song A Daring Tale of Intrigue and Artistic Passion in Glorious 15th Century Italy: A Book Review

02_Color Song 
Publication Date: September 16, 2014 | Skyscape (Amazon Children’s Publishing) | Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Genre: YA Historical
Source: This book was given to me from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
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Synopsis: By the author of the acclaimed Passion Blue, a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2012 and “a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion,” comes a fascinating companion novel. Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed – or cursed – with a spirit’s gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors she creates in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilità. It’s here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness, and rekindled her passion to become a painter – an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy. But when a dying Humilità bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession – the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue – Giulia realizes she’s in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color for themselves. Faced with the prospect of lifelong imprisonment in the convent, forever barred from painting as a punishment for keeping Humilita’s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist’s apprentice? Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilità’s precious blue. And Venice, with its graceful gondolas and twisting canals, its gilded palazzi and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way? This compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to follow your true passion?

My Review: Color Song is a companion novel to Passion Blue. Inside the convent of Santa Marta, Maestra Humilita is the creator of Passion blue, a beautiful paint color that has been the convent’s greatest accomplishment. Because everyone, including Humilita’s father, is so desperate to get their hands on this formula, Humilita has given her secret to make Passion blue to the only one she can trust, Giulia. After the death of Humilita, Giulia finds that she must make a choice: either reveal the secret, become a nun, and give up her passion for painting or to leave the convent and disguise herself as a boy and go to Venice and become an apprentice to Ferraldi, a painter and Maestra Humilita’s friend.

     The author has created a gorgeous scenery. I like how she portrays Santa Marta’s convent as as a prison, where she is forced to give up what she loves most. I also love her journey to Venice, where she disguises herself as a boy. It is not an easy journey. I like how she describes Renaissance Venice. For behind the beautiful facade, danger lurks everywhere. In the whole novel, danger stalks Giulia. She is not safe anywhere she goes.

     Giulia is an average teenager. She wants to find acceptance. She wants to find a place to be happy and to do what she loves. She is faced with tough situations, and ponders what is the best choice for her. Giulia is a brave, strong, and smart girl, who is willing to do the unthinkable in society to get what she wants. Along the way, she makes friendships and finds love.

     Overall, this book is about love, friendship, hope, and acceptance. It is about finding one’s identity in a cruel world. The story shows how hard it is for a woman to be a painter in the Renaissance. The plot is fast-paced, and the setting and characters are well-developed. There is a touch of paranormal, for Giulia can hear the voices of paint colors. I have to advise you to read Passion Blue before you read Color Song. For even though this book is a stand-alone and gives you enough back story, reading Passion Blue will give you a full picture and you will appreciate Color Song more. For I haven’t read Passion Blue, and a lot of times I was lost and had to read the back story a few times more to get a deeper understanding of Giulia’s character. I recommend this book to anyone interested in art, Italy, and the Renaissance. This book is a great tribute to the female painters of the Renaissance.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Praise for the Novels of Victoria Strauss

"Fantasy elements and a historical setting rich with sensuous detail are satisfying, but it’s Giulia’s achingly real search for her heart’s desire that resonates most today, when millions of girls still have limited choices. A rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion." - Kirkus Reviews on PASSION BLUE (Starred Review, a Best Teen Book of 2012) "Compelling…absorbing…An intriguing historical novel inspired by accounts of women artists in the Italian Renaissance." - Booklist on PASSION BLUE "Mysterious dreams, suspense-filled legends, the terror that unfolds as the dig ensues, and the fine characterizations weave together beautifully to make this adventure fantasy a winner." - Booklist on GUARDIAN OF THE HILLS (Starred Review)

 "A rich story about human nature, this fantasy is a thought-provoking page-turner. The characters are deeply etched, and the plot turns are credible yet arresting…A thoroughly enjoyable read." - Kliatt on THE ARM OF THE STONE 

 "The plot is complex yet convincing, and the abundant, well-chosen details of the settings–as well as the carefully developed characters–make this high fantasy a superior and original novel." - Publishers Weekly on THE GARDEN OF THE STONE (Starred Review)

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03_Victoria Strauss

About the Author

Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the STONE duology (THE ARM OF THE STONE and THE GARDEN OF THE STONE), and a historical novel for teens, PASSION BLUE. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer's Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards. An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), she's co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website, Facebook page, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. For more information please visit Victoria's Strauss's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Color Song Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, September 16 Book Blast at Passages to the Past Book Blast at The True Book Addict Tuesday, September 17 Review at Oh the Books Book Blast at The Maiden's Court Wednesday, September 18 Review at Casual Readers Review at (Passion Blue) Thursday, September 19 Review at Monday, September 22 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews Feature at Oh the Books Tuesday, September 23 Book Blast at Flashlight Commentary Wednesday, September 24 Review at History from a Woman's Perspective Interview at Bibliophilia, Please Book Blast at Reading Lark Thursday, September 25 Book Blast at A Book Geek Friday, September 26 Review at Reading Room Book Reviews Book Blast at Just One More Chapter Monday, September 29 Review at Tribute Books Mama Interview at Math, Science & Social Studies...Oh My! Tuesday, September 30 Review at Book Babe Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection Wednesday, October 1 Review & Interview at Bookish Book Blast at Historical Tapestry Thursday, October 2 Review at Brooke Blogs Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book Friday, October 3 Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews Book Blast at The Lit Bitch Saturday, October 4 Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing Monday, October 6 Review at WTF Are You Reading? Book Blast at Let Them Read Books Tuesday, October 7 Review at A Leisure Moment Wednesday, October 8 Review at Peeking Between the Pages Friday, October 10 Review at A Bookish Affair


To enter to win any of the following prizes please complete the form below:
2 Grand Prizes Winners: One Kindle Paperwhite with custom Color Song cover with Color Song and Passion Blue ebooks pre-loaded, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks), and signed paperback editions of Strauss's Stone duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) (US only) 

2 winners: Signed hardcovers of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada) 5 winners: Signed paperbacks of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada)

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on October 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 11th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. 

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  1. It was interesting to read about Victoria Strauss's book, where a woman disguises herself as a male, straight after your review of Erin Lindsay McCabe's book where a very different woman does exactly the same thing but for a different reason. It is, of course, a fascinating subject, and it conjures up images of danger and, of course, intrigue. Whether or not Giulia kept her promise to the Maestra Humilità by leaving the convent is difficult to answer without having read the book; however, on the basis of your review, I will definitely add the book to my list of books worth reading.


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