Candida Martinelli is a technical and creative writer, and most-importantly, she is a confirmed Italophile. To share her love of Italian culture, in 2003 she established the Italian culture website Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site at Italophiles.com. The website has grown into a popular entertainment and reference site.
In 2014 Candida created the Italophile Book Reviews site which is growing quickly, providing helpful reviews for lovers of books set in Italy, or having to do with Italy and Italian culture or hyphenated Italians or Ancient Rome.
She is the author of "An Extra Virgin Pressing Murder", a cozy murder mystery novel set in Italy featuring a mature protagonist. She is also the author of the 9-book young-adult historical mystery novel series "The Violet Strange Mysteries", a re-imagining and re-writing for pre-teens and teens of today of a classic series of short stories. She is the editor of A Collection of Short Mysteries. All her books are available in both print and e-book versions, from various retailers.
Where to find Candida Martinelli online
Where to buy in print
An Extra Virgin Pressing Murder
An Extra Virgin Pressing Murder is a traditional country-house murder mystery. There are lovely Tuscan sights, Italian love interests, mysteries, laughs, and tugs on the heartstrings, and a feisty retiree on the trail of a murderer. In the style of Ngaio Marsh or Dorothy L. Sayers mystery novels, a light touch with little gore or violence, lots of suspect characters and a bit of romance.
Violet and the Locked Room and Missing Page Thirteen
New York City, Dec 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, formerly a secret high-society detective, sets out to discover a mysterious locked room in a Colonial mansion, upsetting the eccentric owner's protector, who sets out to discover Violet's mysterious past. Violet's ninth big case with the Burke & Associates detecting agency. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries.
Violet and the Doctor, his Wife, and the Clock
New York City, Nov/December 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, working secretly as a high-society detective, attempts to discover if a respected doctor’s confession of murder is true, or psychotically induced. Violet's eighth big case for the Burke & Associates detecting agency. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries.
Violet and the House of Clocks
New York City, October/November 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, plays companion to a sadistic old woman, a risky departure from her secret job as a high-society detective, in the hope of saving a young woman’s life. Violet's seventh big case for the Burke & Associates detecting agency. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries.
Violet and the Intangible Clue
New York City, August 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, delves into the past of a murdered woman to discover the killer, as part of her secret job as a high-society detective, while trying to avoid exposure and a forced marriage. Violet's sixth big case for the Burke & Associates detecting agency. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries.
Violet and the Second Bullet
New York City, July 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, seeks to prove a young father did not kill himself and his child, risking her exposure as a high-society detective, in the hope of saving the man's grieving widow from destitution and forced prostitution. Violet's fifth big case for the Burke & Associates detecting agency. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries.
Violet and the Dreaming Lady
New York City, June 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, tries to find a millionaire’s lost will and testament that was hidden by a sleepwalking woman, risking her own future in the hope of saving a family from destitution. Violet's fourth big case for the Burke & Associates detecting agency. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries.
Violet and the Grotto Specter
New York City, May 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, seeks to clear a man she loves of murder, at the risk of being disowned by her family and of losing her secret job as a high-society detective. Violet's third big case for the Burke & Associates detecting agency. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries.
Violet and the Golden Slipper
New York City, April 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, seeks the truth behind a series of thefts, risking her secret job as a high-society detective, in the hope of saving a young woman from dishonor and the law. Violet's second big case for the Burke & Associates detecting agency. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries.
New York City, March 1899. Violet Strange, a Gilded-Age debutante, searches for her disgraced sister. Violet risks losing everything in the hope of saving her sister from a life of poverty and despair. The first girl-detective, her first case, the one that launches her career as a secret high-society detective. Enjoy all nine books in The Violet Strange Mysteries, a young-adult series.
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Smashwords book reviews by Candida Martinelli
- Elusive (Book #1 in the On The Run Series)
on Feb. 05, 2014
Two things ring especially true when reading the book: the emotions of the characters, and the locations. Psychologically the characters are true-to-life. And the locations are depicted very realistically, setting the stage well for the action. The locations in Elusive are varied: Dallas, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Rome, Naples and Venice, Italy.
The plot starts to zing in Las Vegas is because Zoe meets up with her ex-husband, Jack. The tension between the one-time lovers is wonderful. Their marriage ended because the two were not open enough with each other, so once their adventures force them to drop their defenses, the underlying attraction that brought them together in the first place comes to the fore.
Full review at Italophile Book Reviews
- Assisi Walking Adventure Guide
on Feb. 05, 2014
The Assisi Walking Adventure Guide attempts to bridge the gap between the past and the present for visitors to St. Francis of Assisi's haunts. The roughly thirty sections of the book, each with photographs, give the modern visitor lots of choices for the short time they will probably spend in Assisi. You can remain in Assisi self, or venture out to nearby villages with the guide's help.
The author has a gentle sense of humor and speaks directly to his fellow walker in his precise descriptions of where to go and what to see, what maps or books are helpful, what tickets are required, and even where you can get a bite to eat at a reasonable price. The text is scrupulously edited, as well, which is refreshing for an indie-published book.
Full review at Italophile Book Reviews
- Lynne Ellison's The Green Bronze Mirror
on Feb. 05, 2014
First published in 1966, reprinted in 2009 with illustrations Philip Smiley, and now offered for as a free e-book via Smashwords, The Green Bronze Mirror is a wonderful example of out-of-print books getting new life from the new publishing freedom created by the indie-publishing movement.
The Green Bronze Mirror does not glorify the brutality of the era, nor does it ignore them. The brutality of the era is explained in subtle ways, and the civilizing effects of Christianity are shown. I admire the author for managing to do this in a book meant for children. But because of the book's subject matter, I would suggest the reader be 12+, and preferably older than that!
Once the young girl is transported back to Ancient Roman Britain, the story moves along quickly. The protagonist goes from Britain, through France, into Italy. She spends time in the capital, Rome, before returning to Britain. All her various adventures are explained, but the sexual dangers she faces are only touched on lightly, or avoided altogether, which is appropriate for this level of book.
Full review at Italophile Book Reviews
- Her Reluctant Bodyguard
on Feb. 24, 2014
Her Reluctant Bodyguard is a clean (non-pornographic), contemporary romantic suspense novel whose male lead is an Italian-American who is more Italian than American, having spent only his summers growing up in The States. Jamison Constanzo is a bodyguard to a major British pop-star. Part of the novel's story takes place in and around Rome, Italy.
That is not the whole reason I purchased this e-book to read and review here. I was also impressed by the author's sample chapters. They were clean, well-written, well-formatted, and engaging. I was not disappointed when I read the book! It is very readable, flowing nicely, full of fun and romantic interactions between the leads, Jamison and Alexa, a U.S. American woman who has been hired to co-write the pop-star's autobiography.
In this entertaining novel we gets lots of clean, romantic interaction between Alexa and Jamison. The dangerous-fan story builds to an exciting finish, then the novel ends with romance. Please know that you don't have to be religious to like this book or the characters, so don't be put off if you see the book called a "Christian Romance". The author compares her protagonists' repartee to Hepburn and Tracy, but I found it more reminiscent of Gable and Colbert in the film It Happened One Night.
Read the full review at Italophile Book Reviews
- Her Italian Millionaire
on March 04, 2014
An entertaining, fantasy-filled, romantic suspense novel, with some racy love scenes, so, not for children. While racy, the scenes do not cross the line into pornographaphy in my humble opinion. If you enjoy light, female protagonist, romantic suspense films, you should enjoy this novel.
Anne Marie, a forty-one-year-old U.S. American has been ditched by her husband for a much younger woman. To heal her feelings of abandonment and her damaged self-esteem, Anne Marie seeks out a high-school crush, an Italian exchange student, Giovanni, in Italy!
From the start of her trip, her flight, things do not go as planned, setting off a chain of events that put Anne Marie in danger. Luckily for her, handsome, forty-year-old Marco dogs Anne Marie every step of her way to meet the old friend. In well-written segments, often rich with humor, from both Anne Marie's perspective and Marco's perspective, we follow the romantic adventure to it's romantic ending.
An adventure, a romance, a fantasy for a divorced, forty-one-year-old woman, in Italy, trailed by a handsome Italian man: Her Italian Millionaire is a fun read. Don't expect literature or a complicated plot. This is a light read, a beach read, a guilty pleasure read.
Midway in the novel, Anne Marie finally reunites with her childhood crush, Giovanni, without the hoped for earth-moving results. Alone again with Marco, Anne Marie and Marco begin to get to know each other, and to realize their mutual attraction, including two racy sex scenes, and a few tongue-twisting kissing sessions!
The only thing I would change, if I could, would be some of the language used during the love scenes, to make them bit less explicit, because I think that would fit better with the overall tone of the book.
Read the full review at Italophile Book Reviews:
- Letters Home: The Story of an Air Force Wife
on April 02, 2014
I enjoyed the book. It is well-written, and well-edited. It flows nicely, chronologically, and the Postscript gives us some closure. I would have loved to have seen photographs in the book to accompany the story.
The largest portion of the book covers the time the couple lived in Italy. That is why I requested a review-copy of Letters Home. The couple lived near Brindisi on the heel of Italy's boot, and they took every opportunity to travel through Italy and Europe. It is interesting to see what has changed and what has stayed the same in forty years.
Letters Home feels like the contents of a time-capsule from over forty years ago that has been opened and made public. That feeling comes not only from the far greater number of European military bases in that period, but also to the social and economic situations in America and Europe. What I found most striking was the depiction of innocence and decency in the U.S. that seems to have been replaced in forty years time by much harshness and crudity.
Perhaps the contrast is so strong due to the decency of the narrator and her husband, and of their families? Perhaps it is because of the lovely, human details included in the book, and the direct, honest, simple narrative style? Or perhaps the contrast is so strong because a major crude and rude-ification of U.S. society has taken place in the past forty years? I will leave the answer to that question to you.
I found this time-capsule book a fascinating read. Because of my age, I could see what had changed in the forty or so years since the letters were written. I could also see what had not changed much in that time. I find myself wondering what younger readers might make of the book? And what might military spouses think of it? Italy, warts and all.
Read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews
- Limoncello Yellow (Franki Amato Mysteries #1)
on April 28, 2014
Limoncello Yellow is the first book in the cozy-murder-mystery Franki Amato Mystery Series. The protagonist, Francesca (Franki) Amato, is a first generation Italian-(Sicilian)-American in the United States. She grew up in Houston, Texas, with her parents, brothers, and her very-Sicilian paternal grandmother. All that wonderful Italian ethnicity enriches Limoncello Yellow.
The private detecting firm that Franki joins is run by Franki's old friend, Veronica Maggio, another hyphenated Italian. The two women bonded in college over "all things Italian", and they enjoy joking together about their ethnicity.
The cover of the book is very cute, as is the title Limoncello Yellow. The review-copy e-book I read had a very clear layout and is well-edited, with distinct paragraphs that begin with indents.
Franki's parents and grandmother (nonna) like to play an active part in Franki's life, especially her love-life. When Franki informs the family she is moving to New Orleans, nonna likes the idea of her spinster (a zitella at twenty-nine) grand-daughter going to the city where nonna lived previously: "There are still a lotta nice Sicilian boys in New Orleans..." Italian culture has a central role in Franki's and Veronica's identities.
Cozy murder mystery romance humor chick-lit: all these terms fit Limoncello Yellow, a promising start to a fun Italophile series.
Please read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews.
- Pepe & Poppy - tarantella vs zorba
on May 15, 2014
Pepe & Poppy is a romantic-comedy-coming-of-age story set in Melbourne, Australia, within the city's large Italian immigrant community. Actually, Pepe and his brother Charlie, the first-person conversational narrator of the story, are hyphenated Italians, the first generation born in Australia. Poppy, however, is from Melbourne's large Greek immigrant community, a first generation child, too.
Pepe and Poppy meet and fall in love. Today, that would be less of an event. However, in the early 1980s, where the book is set, this is akin to a tragedy for the two lovers' families. Pepe's family's biggest worries are: Are they Catholic? Can she make pasta, pizza, lasagna? Can she prepare Italian coffee? What language and culture will the children learn? Would she be able to understand us?
The author has his narrator not only tell the story, but explain to the reader the "realities" of being a Italian-Australian. As the story progresses, the narrator lets us into what he learned from the events he relates in the book, about how similar Italian and Greek-Australians can be.
Let me just add a comment about Australian English for any non-Australian readers, and about the tone of this novel: it can be a bit vulgar and crude, but it is rich with humor and a zest for life. Some Aussie words might be unfamiliar, such as relos for relations, and bog-catcher for underpants, and chooks for chickens, but all the words are understandable in context. There is also the frequent use of the word wog, a racially derogatory term that in Australia has been appropriated by those against whom it was used, to refer to themselves as a group.
Pepe & Poppy is rich with humor, especially concerning the eccentricities of the families. There are plenty of off-hand observations about Italians, like these: ...there's nothing scarier than silent Italians; it's unnatural., Italians love emotional people. If you're reserved you either have something to hide or you're just plain stupid.
The cultural references from the early eighties are fun, too; lots of nostalgia. Pepe & Poppy has a cinematic structure, making it easy to imagine the book as a film. It would make a colorful, goofy, romantic, nostalgic film.
In the end, Pepe & Poppy is a funny story about a cultural melting-pot. In the background of the story is the suggestion that today's Australia is home to better-acculturated hyphenated Greeks and Italians, and that the Australian society is more appreciative of the best of Greek and Italian culture.
Pepe & Poppy is well-written, well-constructed, well-edited, and very entertaining. It transports you to another world, immerses you in it, and leaves you feeling better for it, in the end. You can feel lots of love behind the words. It is a love-story for Pepe and Poppy, but it is a coming-of-age story for Pepe's brother, Charlie.
Please read my full and illustrated review at Italophile Book Reviews.