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Passion Blue

(Passion Blue #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  362 ratings  ·  104 reviews
"Be sure you know your true hearts 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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Skyscape (first published October 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it

My review can also be found on my blog Collections.

4.5 stars

Historical fiction usually isn't a genre I seek out to read, but after finding out that Megan Whalen Turner, the author of The Queen's Thief fantasy series, praised it as a "lovely read," I knew I had to give Passion Blue a chance. I'm so glad I did because it was such a beautiful and vivid story.

Passion Blue centered around a young woman named Giulia, who desperately wanted a family of her own so that she could be cherished and loved.
Gail Carriger
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, historical, reviewed
Right, so Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss really reminded me of some of the more historically dense YAs that were optional additional reads in grade school. You know, like The Tamarack Tree.

Since I was a total nerd, I always enjoyed these books (and read ALL of them, blowing the curve), but there is an element of old fashioned-ness to them. And by that I mean not just in the content but in the style of writing. In this, Strauss reminds me of Lois Lowry and other Newberry-winning types. There's
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Twilight anti-matter

Passion Blue is an engaging story set in Renaissance Italy. Though the action is set in the famous art world of the era dont expect a lot of in-depth information about that milieu though there are some enticing tidbits. The main character is a young girl (shes 17) whos just becoming a woman and learning to live on her own. Shes also falling in love. The love story is believable and reinforces the girls character and independence. Her coming of age is set in a convent where
May 06, 2014 rated it liked it
*** here there be some spoilers ***

Back in college, Alis Rasmussen and I used to spend hours talking about the craft of writing. I think she is the one who first came up with the lodges, denoting the kinds of writers. First was the Were-Lodge. These writers are the shape-changers, the ones who become their characters so truthfully that the characters feel real. When you read a were-writer's book, you take the ride as the character, and experience the world from their point of view.

Then, there's
Nov 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This one got off to a rather rocky start for me, with some utterly pointless fat-slams - not only were they unnecessary, they stuck out as being quite wrong for the time (1497). There was also a rather awkward bit of exposition about religious beliefs - something along the lines of: she was as devout as anyone, but OMG, being a NUN - exactly like being locked in a coffin!

Once Guilia got to the convent, my reading enjoyment increased, though it became very painful to see the inevitability of her
Jessica (The Psychotic Nerd)
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

Short and Simple Review
This was an okay read for me. I did like this book, but it had difficulty keeping my interest. The pacing was a bit slow, which is expected for a historical book, and I couldn't fully connect with Giulia. Part of this was because I figured out early on that someone could not be trusted. I was constantly frustrated with Giulia because of this, and because it took her a while to understand what she wanted. I do like
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Couldn't decide between 3 and 4 stars. I felt it a little slow in some places but the author did a really good job in bringing to life the art and time period.
Melissa Lemon
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I Want to Be a Painter. I Want to Be a Nun.

And in short, any book that can do THAT, gets 5 stars.

"This is the great secret of color, child. Inside every color, other colors live. Thus we can create green from yellow and blue, or paint a purple robe by laying blue over a red ground. That's why a poppy is not simply red, it is yellow red, and an olive leaf is not merely green, it is gray green. There is no color for which this isn't so."

This book was a once in a lifetime read for me. (Except it
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
YA historical fiction with a bit of magic realism sprinkled in? I would have been there even if this book wasn't set in an area I'm currently researching myself - 16th century Italy, and in particular the sometimes contradictory roles that convents played in that society. Deeply religious nuns, girls who were forced to join convents and resented it, worldliness and asceticism side by side within the cloister, the paradoxical confinement and freedom that women found there... these are all ...more
Ammon Piatt
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I got this book free from the Goodreads giveaways. I really enjoyed this book. The Cinderella like opening was great and it developed nicely. Giulia was a wonderful character that you could relate too. The book was written very well and was a pleasure to read. I'm probably not the target demographic for this book but I think the story can reach just about anyone.
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was entranced by this imaginative story set in Renaissance Italy that follows a young girl as she seeks her hearts desire. Not only does this book focus on the fascinating subject of Renaissance painting, but it gives an intimate glimpse into the lives of women during the 1480s and their place in the world. I studied art in college, so I devoured all the details of Giulias admittance into the secretive world of women painters during the Renaissance. I love it when books teach me new things, ...more
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
3.5, rounded up for the stars.

Strauss masterfully handles the tricky skill of historical world-building. The world of Santa Marta and the painting workshop there feels so real. Because the reader learns about the workshop, the convent, and the process of painting along with Giulia, the expository paragraphs read a lot more like straight-forward plot than exposition.

The painters at Santa Marta are lovely characters with compelling backgrounds. They are the main reason why I rounded the
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy books set in the Italian Renaissance; I think it's such a rich setting that can offer so much to its reader by way of vivid imagery, and Passion Blue most definitely delivers. I went in wanting to read about the sights, smells, sounds of Italian cities, but the setting was pretty stationary inside of a convent. However, the book delivered that feeling by way of painting, with all the colors and bringing to mind the beautiful paintings of the time period. So, it wasn't what I ...more
Maria Mitchell
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

This book was very different than I expected but I still absolutely loved it! It's set at the end of the 15th century during the Italian Renaissance. Descriptions of the time, lack of women's rights, the prejudice against illegitimate children - are all important parts of history that still some-what ring true today. Main character, Giulia, is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman and his mistress.
Beth Fred
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it
But the convent of Santa Marta is full of surprises. There are strict rules, long hours of work, and spiteful rivalriesbut theres 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 painters craft, the magic of the talisman is at work, and a forbidden romance beckons her down a path of uncertainty and ...more
I read this book because it was one of Gail Carriger's selections for her online book club. When I first started reading it, I was enchanted. The setting was so different from anything I'd read, and I was fascinated by the descriptions of the time period and the various settings in which the heroine finds herself--aristocratic household, convent, painter's studios, sorcerer's home, etc. Watching her transition into the convent and finding her vocation was interesting and enjoyable.
However, at
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Giulia is the illegitimate daughter of an Italian nobleman during the Renaissance. Her father has kept her in his house (against his wife's wishes) as a seamstress but when he dies, his wife takes Giulia's dowry and pays it over to a nunnery, forcing Giulia to be a novice. Giulia doesn't want to be a nun and immediately begins plotting how to leave Santa Marta. But when she arrives, she finds that life in the convent isn't quite as she expected it. She makes friends her own age for the first ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Although I am well past this book's theoretical teenage target audience, I hated to put it down.

Like "Vivaldi's Virgins," "Passion Blue" is an entertaining, well-researched and thoughtful work of historical fiction that gives us a look at life for women in 16th C. Italy. Giulia, the protagonist, is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman. Upon her father's death, his wife takes the money intended as Giulia's wedding dowry and buys her a position in a convent. Forced vocations were not at all
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Here is a strikingly original book. In "Passion Blue", a teenage girl treated with great cruelty by her stepmother makes the sort of emotion-driven decision a young girl might well make, and nuns emerge as real women with varied skills. How refreshing! In renaissance Italy, Giulia wants nothing more than to paint, but she also longs for a family and a place to belong. As the bastard daughter of a nobleman, she loses her home when her father dies. The 17-year-old is shipped, against her will, to ...more
Lady Nefertankh
Jun 09, 2015 rated it liked it
In 1400s Italy, young Giulia, is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman. She loves to draw and hopes for a better life than her late mother had, but after the death of her father she is sent to a convent against her will. There, her artistic talent is discovered and she is swept into the world of female artists who have found freedom painting behind the convent's walls.

Beneath her habit, Giulia secretly wears a good luck talisman she obtains from an astrologer, she hopes it will help her gain
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was very excited to be asked to be apart of the blog tour for Passion Blue. I loved the colors in the cover and the synopsis definitely appealed to my historian side. I love stories set during the Italian Renaissance, so I knew I would enjoy Passion Blue. Passion Blue was everything I expected and more.

The story focuses on Giulia, a young women whose has spent her life as a servant in the home of her father, who happens to be a Count. When he dies, the Counts wife forces her to go live as a

"Be sure you know your true hearts 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 hearts desire: true love and a place where she belongs.

The convent of Santa Marta is full of surprises.
A unique peek into the lives of 15th century women.

The Great: Masterfully rendered setting and research, beautiful exploration of artistic passion. Magical realism.

The Good: Surprisingly good insta-love "romance," (mostly because it wasn't a romance in the traditional sense; Giulia was never in love, she only thought she was in love because of Anasurymboriel), Guilia's arc, the weaving of the plot. Relationships (for the most part).

The Decent: The writing wasn't beautiful, but was still flow-y
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I received this book free through a goodreads giveaway. The premise of the book is Giulia, and orphan and illegitimate daughter of a Italian nobleman finds out she is being sent to a convent. This upsets her because all she's ever wanted to do is get married and have a home of her own. To change her fate she has a talisman made for her.

You can tell from reading the book the author knew the Italian Renaissance really well. None of the men in the book think that woman can amount to much. It was
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced reader copy Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss through a giveaway on Goodreads.
In Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss, the reader follows Giulia, the illegitimate daughter of a recently deceased Milanese Count whose horoscope has predicted that she will not marry or bear any children. Giulia travels to a sorcerer in order to gain a talisman that she believes will bring her inner heart's desire and will allow her to escape the convent that her father's wife is sending her to.
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Passion Blue is a simply-told and beautiful story of Giulia, a teenage girl whose dreams of painting and having a place where she belongs seem to be mutually exclusive.

The book was skillfully written so that details seemed to pop out of the words and into my imagination as easily as the blue of passion blue pops of out of the paintings at the convent. At the same time, the writing did not get in the way of the story.

One of my favorite things thematically was the incorporation of magic, religion,
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. A historical fiction set in the 1500-1600's in Italy at a time when women weren't allowed to do much with their talents or gifts.
It reminded me somewhat of "The Passion Of Artemisia. The story of a young girl who has a gift but is conflicted with what she thinks she really wants and tries to bend the future towards her wishes.
I thought it was very well written and the authors knowledge of the process of painting and mixing colors at that time made the novel so real.
Dec 16, 2012 added it
I loved the rich history Strauss evoked in this book. Giulia was a likable and believable character and I rooted for her all the way. I also liked the way Strauss wrote Anasurymboriel - I was never sure if it actually existed or was just in Giulia's head. Very clever. It ended very well, too, which is more than I can say about a large portion of books I've read lately. Altogether a worthwhile read.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
love the cover sounds awesome cant wait to read it..
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very sweet story with an incredibly powerful message. The characters were easy to love. It was a joy to live in the world created by the author. Then again, I love art.
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Gail Carriger Fan...: July 2015 Read: Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss (YA) 1 21 Jun 26, 2015 11:14AM  

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I'm 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"); the Way of Arata duology ("The Burning Land" and "The Awakened City"); and "Passion Blue" and "Color Song," a pair of historical novels for teens. I've reviewed books for SF Site, Black Gate, and Fantasy magazine, and my articles on writing and how to get ...more

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