Thursday, March 13, 2014

Starling Blog Tour: Review of Venom and Interview with Fiona Paul + GIVEAWAY

I'm so very excited to be a part of this blog tour! To check out the rest of the tour, go HERE. I hadn't started this series before signing up for this tour, but it became a good excuse for me to read the first book. So I'm first going to review the first book, Venom.

Goodreads rating: 3.77
ARC, 435 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Philomel
Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

I got this ARC for review when I went to ALA. I loved the cover and I was super excited to read it, but then it just kept getting pushed back. Finally, when I signed up to be a part of this blog tour, I had no excuse to not read it, especially with all the books out now. And I never thought I'd enjoy it as much as I did. There are killings happening in Venice . One thing that made this book so unique was actually the setting. The imagery of Venice was phenomenal, especially with the two very separate worlds that Cass and Falco inhabit. The fact that they had to use the canals to get everywhere was so fun to read, and each canal ride meant something significant was probably about to happen, whether in the plot or in the relationships. There were so many great twists and turns, and I did not expect the killer, though it was mostly because it wasn't one of the bog players. But so much action! There was rarely a dull moment despite the amount of pages. I couldn't wait to see what happened next!

I get the feeling this is going to be a love triangle that I can get behind. I love a lot of things about Falco, but there's not that much mystery around him anymore. There's just the fact that they're not meant to be together. I imagine that in the second book, we get to know more about Luca, and then the playing field will be evil. We don't know much about Luca for most of the book, but then he shows up at the most inopportune time (at first, at least). Luca isn't the stick in the mud that his letters make him seem, and he seems to know more about the troubles that Cass is facing than even she does. I'm very interested in how everything will go down in the second book, though I'm dreading the sequel syndrome for reasons you have to find out yourself! Still, Falco was very romantic, and although he had some strange tendencies, you have to take into consideration that he's a product of his environment, just like Luca is. I'm so very excited to read the second book in this series, and I'm also very happy that I decided to start the series when all the books were already out because I don't think I could have waited a year for Belladonna!

 Lovers of historical fiction!


A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

The rest of the series!

About the author

Fiona Paul lives in the Midwest but travels a lot since she can’t breathe if she spends too much time away from the ocean. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a major in psychology and spent a year teaching English in Seoul, Korea while she was deciding what she wanted to be when she grew up. Answer: everything. In addition to being a teacher and writer, she’s also worked as a saute cook, sporting goods manager, veterinary assistant, and registered nurse. When she’s not working, you can usually find her kayaking, reading, or helping turtles cross the road. Her future goals include diving with great white sharks and writing more books, not necessarily in that order. Venom is her first novel.


Now that you've finished a trilogy, which book was the most difficult to write?
Starling was probably the hardest to write because I had to resolve the series without deviating from anything written in the first two books. So many times I stopped to go “Oh, if only I could go back and change [whatever] in Venom I could erase this plot hole or make this character’s motivation feel organic.” But I had to work with what I had already written. Did I mention I’m writing standalones now? ;)
Why choose Renaissance Venice as your setting for this series?
Plot elements in Venom require it to be set during the Renaissance. Paper Lantern Lit was thinking of Venice for a setting when they hired me and I had traveled there recently so it just all kind of worked out. Venice, with its mix of dramatic architecture and shadowy canals, is such a perfect setting for a romantic thriller.
What kind of research did you have to do for this series?
So. Much. Research. I read books, watched movies, googled obsessively, and pored over maps and travel guides. Paper Lantern Lit had one of their interns assemble a document full of Venetian houses and dresses for me to use as a reference. Once I finished the first draft, all parties involved decided we needed to get a historical expert involved. Author and scholar Eleanor Herman read the books and wrote me a 28-page edit letter of fixes and suggestions. Implementing them was grueling, but her insight raised the book to a whole new level.
What are you working on now?
My first contemp, The Art of Lainey, (writing as Paula Stokes) releases on May 20th in heavy promotional mode for both Starling and it. Liars, Inc., my contemp murder mystery that comes out in Feb 2015 just went to copy-edits and I will be tweaking it a little more before ARCs get printed. I’m also working on an e-novella for the Harper Impulse line, revising a psychological thriller to go out on submission, and drafting a couple shiny new projects.
If you could change one thing about any of the books or the series as a whole, what would it be?
Maybe this sounds trivial, but in Venom, I would have Cass first seek out Falco in the taverna instead of finding him in the graveyard the night after she discovers the dead body. A lot of readers pointed out that for Cass or Falco to go back to the graveyard after they knew a murderer had been there the previous night was insane. This made some people find both characters immediately unlikable and it’s like people say: a first impression is everything. In retroscpect, I agree it would have made more sense to put Falco in Il Mar e la Spada where he told Cass he normally went after work and have her find him there.
Favorite book you've read so far this year, and your favorite TV show right now?
In addition to all of that writing work up there, I also moved across the country, started a new job as an RN, and completed several pieces of academic writing this year, so all I have had time to read so far are a few ARCS/manuscripts for author-friends that aren’t published yet. I really enjoyed Burn Out by Kristi Helvig and The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel I am dying to read Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor and Panic by Lauren Oliver. 
Favorite TV show…hmm, not much TV watching at Chez Paula :) I will admit to a weakness for Chicago Fire (I <3 fire fighters) and I hope to eventually have time to check out Almost Human because that looks fun and I have heard great things.

1 comment:

  1. The dreaded love triangle! Haha I still need to read this series. It looks like it could be fun.


I always appreciate comments and cherish every one of them. THIS IS AN AWARD-FREE ZONE. I don't have the time to fulfill the requirements for the awards, but thank you so much for thinking of me. I just ask for no vulgarity, and if you have any issues with my reviews or writing style, please e-mail me instead of commenting. Now, vent to your heart's content!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


According to FTC guidelines, I'm obligated to share with you that all of the books that I review on my blog are either purchased by me or given to me by an author/publisher. All of the opinions expressed in my reviews are mine and I do not receive any sort of monetary goods for writing either good or bad reviews.