Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: PASSION BLUE by Victoria Strauss

PASSION BLUE by Victoria Strauss
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing (Marshall Cavendish)

Find Victoria and PASSION BLUE online:

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Website / Twitter

About (from Goodreads): "Be sure you know your true heart’s desire, or you may find yourself surprised by what you receive."

This is the warning the Astrologer-Sorcerer gives Giulia when she pays him to create a magical talisman for her. The scorned illegitimate daughter of a Milanese nobleman, Giulia is determined to defy the dire fate predicted by her horoscope, and use the talisman to claim what she believes is her heart’s desire: true love and a place where she belongs–not likely prospects for a girl about to be packed off to the cloistered world of a convent.

But the convent of Santa Marta is full of surprises. There are strict rules, long hours of work, and spiteful rivalries…but there’s also friendship, and the biggest surprise of all: a workshop of female artists who produce paintings of astonishing beauty, using a luminous blue mixed from a secret formula: Passion blue. Yet even as Giulia begins to learn the mysteries of the painter’s craft, the magic of the talisman is at work, and a forbidden romance beckons her down a path of uncertainty and danger. She is haunted by the sorcerer’s warning, and by a question: does she really know the true compass of her heart?

Set in Renaissance Italy, this richly imagined novel about a girl’s daring journey towards self-discovery transports readers into a fascinating, exotic world where love, faith, and art inspire passion–of many different hues.

My Review: PASSION BLUE tells the story of Giulia, an orphan in Renaissance Italy. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and am finding more and more that there are some fantastic young adult gems out there as well. PASSION BLUE is one of those gems I'm so glad I was lucky enough to come across. 

We learn early on that Giulia will be sent to a convent to live out the rest of her life as a nun. This is difficult for her because all Giulia has ever really wanted is to be loved and to have a place to call her own. Her story was heartwarming and irresistible. The more I got to know her as a character, the more I adored her and how extremely passionate she was about finding happiness. 

It was easy to cheer her on and hope that she found exactly what she was looking for, but at some point during the novel I found my own thoughts shifting as to what I wanted for her. Strauss has a flawless writing style that made me feel like I was living the story, rather than reading it. When Giulia begins to explore her artistic side more and more, I found it entirely believable that art could make her happy, and that sometimes love isn't all someone needs in order to achieve peace. Passion Blue is more than just the title of the book, it's also a paint color that the nuns in the convent used in paintings. 

As Giulia becomes more involved in the artistic workshop at the convent, her hesitations about escaping also increase. I found Giulia's struggles to not only ring authentic, but also those of the struggles of other women not born into nobility. PASSION BLUE was captivating through and through and I'd recommend it to readers of all ages. It's splendidly written and a book that will keep you up reading into all hours of the night. 

This is the first book I've read by Victoria Strauss, but I am already a huge fan just from this book alone. I can't wait to read more from her.



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