Blog Book Tour | “The Girl from Oto” (The Miramonde Series, Book One) by Amy Maroney

Posted Monday, 18 March, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

I’ve launched a new weekly featured concentration of book reviews on Jorie Loves A Story which celebrates my love and passion for the historical past! For those of whom are regular readers and visitors to my blog, you’ll denote a dedicated passion for reading Historical Fiction (and all the lovely segues of thematic therein) – I am a time traveller of the historical past every chance I get to disappear into a new era and/or century of exploration. There isn’t a time period I haven’t enjoyed ruminating over since [2013] and there are a heap of lovely timescapes I’ve yet to encounter.

This feature was inspired by the stories I’ve read, the stories I’ve yet to experience and the beauty of feeling interconnected to History through the representation of the past through the narratives being writ by today’s Historical Fiction authors. It is to those authors I owe a debt of gratitude for enlightening my bookish mind and my readerly heart with realistic characters, illuminating portals of living history and a purposeful intent on giving each of us a strong representation of ‘life’ which should never become dismissed, forgotten or erased.

I am began this feature with the sequel to a beloved historical novel I first read in [2013] – it was one of the first ARCs I received and it was the first year I was a book blogger though it was through a connection outside my life as a blogger. I celebrated K.B. Laugheed’s literature to kick-off this feature and hopefully will inspire my followers to take this new weekly journey with me into the stories which are beckoning to read their narrative depths and find the words in which to express the thoughts I experienced as I read.

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Girl from Oto” direct from the author Amy Maroney in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On why this story appealled to me:

In truth, the trifecta of ‘time’ narratives (ie. time shift, time slip and time travel) are three of my favourite ways in which genre can become bent towards the will of a novelists pen. It never fails to ensnare a wicked curiosity about what I shall find if I were to dip into a narrative set in a duality of focus between the past and the present whilst what motivates me to seek out these stories is the fact I love being a time traveller of History. There is a benefit to reading Historical Fiction – as the writers who are curating their worlds for us to read are the ones who are re-illuminating the past in such strong strokes of colours and lives to give us a building of the past in our imaginations which befits the real persons who once lived.

When I first read the premise of the novel The Girl from Oto – I was rather charmed by the time shift narrative as reading dual timelines in stories is one of my favourite past-times! I like seeing how different writers handle the stories and how the duality of the focus is built through the distinctiveness of having two timescapes to disappear inside as we follow the central lead characters.

It is through this exploration of the human condition, of humanity’s progress and the journeys we venture forth into embracing through this portal of interest where we seek out the most hope for the future because we have a better foundational understanding of whence we’ve previously have travelled.

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Blog Book Tour | “The Girl from Oto” (The Miramonde Series, Book One) by Amy MaroneyThe Girl From Oto
by Amy Maroney
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

A Renaissance-era woman artist and an American scholar. Linked by a 500-year-old mystery…

The secrets of the past are irresistible—and dangerous.

1500: Born during a time wracked by war and plague, Renaissance-era artist Mira grows up in a Pyrenees convent believing she is an orphan. When tragedy strikes, Mira learns the devastating truth about her own origins. But does she have the strength to face those who would destroy her?

2015: Centuries later, art scholar Zari unearths traces of a mysterious young woman named Mira in two 16th-century portraits. Obsessed, Zari tracks Mira through the great cities of Europe to the pilgrim’s route of Camino de Santiago—and is stunned by what she finds. Will her discovery be enough to bring Mira’s story to life?

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780997521306

Also by this author: The Girl From Oto (Spotlight), The Girl From Oto

Also in this series: The Girl From Oto (Spotlight)

Published by Artelan Press

on 20th September, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 532

Published by: Artelan Press

The Miramode Series:

The Promise by Amy MaroneyThe Girl from Oto by Amy MaroneyMira's Way by Amy Maroney

The Promise (prequel) novella – about Elena (mountain healer, midwife)

The Girl from Oto (book one)
– where we are introduced to Zari, Elena & Mira

Mira’s Way (book two)

Ideally, I would have preferred to rad “The Promise” ahead of the first installment as I love reading series in order of sequence. Except it is not yet released into print and/or audio
– I loved Elena instantly in “book one”.

Converse via: ##TheGirlfromOto + #HistFic or #HistNov
as well as #TimeShift and #HistoricalFiction

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Amy Maroney

Amy Maroney

Amy Maroney lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She studied English literature at Boston University and public policy at Portland State University, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, painting, drawing, dancing and reading. The Girl from Oto and Mira’s Way are books 1 & 2 in The Miramonde Series.

For a free prelude to The Girl from Oto, for the full scoop on the research behind the book, and for news about the sequel, please visit

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about how the story was written:

This is a wonderfully published novel – it has all the lovely touches and extras as a reader which makes me wicked excited to hold the book in hand. Such as what greets you when you first open the pages of The Girl from Oto – there is a duel layout detailing the cast of characters from both perspectives of the time shifting inside the timeline of the novel itself – both the past and the present are happily represented side by side. This is brilliant as it gives you a firm foundation of the characters and the people you’re about to encounter whilst it followed a bit of a map which outlines where in Spain ‘Oto’ is located.

Even the typography used to ‘set’ the font inside the novel was a smart choice – the larger characters and the type of paper used give this a lovely entrance point for those of us who are seeking to read fiction before or after a migraine (such as I do on a regularly basis; save the past three weeks where I’ve been thankfully migraine-free). It is the choices in the details and the layout, I appreciated the most – it is simply in essence a smartly published novel and one which I adored having the chance to tuckaway inside to find the heart of its story.

my review of the girl from oto:

I became entranced as soon as I read the Prologue – to be caught inside Zari’s footsteps during an electrical storm is one surefire way to feel rooted inside the opening pages of The Girl from Oto! There is something quite disconcerting about how lightning storms pop and sizzle through the skies – if your out in the thick of them, I’d much prefer a car than boots in a rain sodden meadow, however, you can respectfully understand why Zari is here and why this is an important moment for her to be in an area where she can verify a mystery.

When it comes to the children who can’t stay amongst their families and the people they have become bourne was an interesting turning of the tides; especially to see Mira was carted off into an abbey if only to keep her safe whilst she grew far away from her biological relations. There was a hinting of a a reason towards this end – of how her twin brother would be the preferred choice to stay with their parents and how getting her out as quick as a horse can canter was the best course of action for her own life. It is here we first find Elena – of whom is focused on in the prequel novella The Promise. Elena has the difficult job of having to handle the curiously hard situation where a daughter has to be secreted away from her family – an act of bravery on her part, as it is hinted at how her life is not as readily secured anymore than the infant in her keep. It was only after she reached her destination that we realised just how perilous this act was for her to take-on and how much is looming at stake over the choice to separate Mira from her family. The details were not yet readily known but there is enough psychological suspense in the under-threads of the narrative to elude to the fact this was the only way in which to ensure Mira would be ‘kept safe’ and in a place where she could thrive.

Beatrice struck me as a quite remarkable woman – at first I couldn’t get a good read on her person, not until we learnt more about her father and how she came to be set-up at the abbey itself. It was here where we find a sister (as her two sisters were wed at very young ages) who had a chance at freedom in a manner of speaking that her own sisters would never know themselves. She was meant to live her life amongst the nuns and although their spiritual home (the abbey) was protected there was a part of her nature which was non-conforming and non-traditional. She did as she pleased for reasons which made logical sense – not just to her but to anyone looking in on her life.

As Maroney re-settled us into the life and heart of Mira’s mother, Marguerite – we find a woman whose strength and resolve goes back to her childhood when she was a young girl of nine years taken from her family and brought to the Oto stronghold. She was destined to wed and to have children but her life was not her own. In some ways, I had wondered if this is partially why she had sent Mira away – to give her a chance she hadn’t had herself and to try to reset parts of the past she wasn’t able to resolve until now. There is a passage which explains the seashell and the importance of this necklace – it is an inheritance of its own right and the significance of its presence in her life is a remarkable one of faith.

Marguerite isn’t a woman who backed down when bad things happened; if anything she was re-inspired to dig deeper and to find a way to step outside the adversity to live for tomorrow. Not everyone around her was this strong in spirit nor in mind; she had to be the one others could look up towards when the unthinkable started to alight at her door. The fortitude it would have taken to deal with that at hand and to keep her wits about her as well when you could tell she wanted to wilt under the pressure of what that moment would mean for her and how it would change her life.

If ever there was a character I would not feel especially keen about it would be Mira’s father Ramón! He is not just heartless, he rules over people with his entitled ego and his sense of self-righteousness. He’s not one to quiver out his words but rather, he has a sword of steel inside his exchanges to where the quivering is in the person listening to his declarations for he has a knack for giving them a reason to fear him. He might be attempting to secure his holdings and his financial securities but its his methods which rankle you. I honestly do not know how Beatrice handled being in his company – he was shockingly rude towards her and he had no respect for her position at the abbey. Even if he saw her as a person who could be beneficial to his commerce and trade; you gathered the thought that if she proved to be less than useful he would find a way to dismiss her from the abbey if not from life.

It wasn’t lost on me either how close Mira came to learning the identity of her father and how ironic it was that her father was now the sole reason why her caretaker (Beatrice) was now able to provide for the abbey without the fears she once had of them being financially insecure. It is a keen lesson in both karma and fate; of how sometimes you can walk thousands of miles from your originating path of journey only to cut the trip short by having your future collide into your past.

Entering Zari’s world in Academia was quite the switch from being settled in Beatrice’s era as young Mira was first introduced to the abbey. Zari is on the hunt to unearth the provenance of a painting – quite the feat as there is a murmuring discourse about its origins and the subject of whom it is portraying. In right proper academic fashion, there are certain reasons to tap dance round certain fellows in academic gatherings; something Zari is encountering already whilst being a woman in a male dominated field is something she shares with other women who are just as fiercely determined to make their mark in their own fields. Zari has a natural curiosity about herself – she likes to think about the plausibilities before she considers anything impossible and I love that about her as it shows she has an open minded approach to sleuthing out the past.

My heart fluttered a bit in joy when the topic of Mira was broached in the present day – how Zari was first discovering ‘Mira’ without the context of whom she was referring too. This in of itself was a unique moment in the story, as it referred to how sometimes art is one of the better benefits of time than paper. For all the historical artifacts in correspondences and journals, there is a third tried and true way of knowing history and that is through art. This is of course a multi-layered story, so in effect art by itself isn’t good enough to have a foothold in the past – there is a need to certify ownership of the art and of course, understand a bit about the artist therein. I had known previously the difficulties for women in the art world; even before I read Heather Webb’s Rodin’s Lover. Art is a highly jaded world for women – throughout the ages, men have had the upper hand and it is the women who have had to fight for their right to be acknowledged; similar to the anguish Zelda had in getting her writings known out from under her husband’s influence (F. Scott Fitzgerald).

Mira has a strong sense of self and an incredible keen intuition – she might have had an unusual birth story by how she came to live in an abbey but because of this, she’s focused on the world outside her walled abbey. To such an extent she sees things others might overlook and she contemplates a life she can only imagine possible once she’s of age to leave. In this way, Mira has a truer strength of freedom inside her spirit than most might have believed she could embrace. I really love how Mira was developed – she is growing stronger and more confident each time we cross her path and she’s still thriving in her childhood as she’s not yet ready to be responsible for herself.

As we slip through time, Maroney makes us wait for the details unfolding in each section of the novel – meaning, we get so dearly attached to being amongst Mira and Beatrice with Elena popping in and out of the foreground to where we forget we need to check-in with Zari. If we’re spending time seeking out privately collected artwork with Zari our mind takes a brief hiatus from questioning what is going to become of Mira and vice versa. I love too, how the chapters were arranged not just to slip us through these time intervals but to re-address our position inside those moments per each character whose of importance to the story.

Maroney has truly thought well about her transitions and of aligning us back inside each time slip she encourages us to travel through as this is something rather critical I look for in these kinds of stories. If the transitions are done well, you do not always notice the ‘time slip’ moment arriving as you’ve made a seamless transition; exchanging one time or another and re-routing back again through the looping of where the story endeavours to take you. I found each portion of the novel wholly illuminated and full of life – both eras were well conceived and alive.

The further we slip into the past, the more haunting the realities are becoming for Mira and Beatrice; for this is a Historical Thriller round the edges. There are nefarious actions being taken against them and the secreted truths of Mira’s birthright are starting to bubble and burst back to the surface. If anything, no secret in this world lies in the shadows for long as all truths let out eventually; including the identity of the artist Zari was attempting to track down. The interesting bit is how the pursuit of Art History on Zari’s behalf was leading back to Mira’s own life and the gravity of what her life meant to her as she was living it. Mira did not have an easy path to walk nor did she have the security of family behind her – everything she had she had because she kept herself one step ahead of others and drew a keen interest in observation which granted her cunning awareness.

on the historical writing styling of amy maroney:

Quite immediately, as your starting to settle into the narrative you start to notice a few distinctive changes in the ways in which Maroney reveals her writing style – the turns of phrase, the alternative ways in which she is using descriptive narrative and the joyfulness of finding words being used in her story which are not always selected for use in others. One of my favourite reasons for reading – across genres – is noting the turns of phrase, the dialogue choices and the mannerisms of illuminating a story to a reader’s perspective. Maroney gives a feast for the eyes, mind and heart – this is a story not only writ with a purpose but with an eye for detail. It has been awhile since I’ve found a wordsmith whose taken me by surprise and delight in how they’ve set the tone of their story and the usage of the words in which form the foundation of the portal to their world.

One of the things I appreciated about Maroney’s style of crafting this series is how she chose what to highlight in-scene and how she chose to pull back. There is a definitive emotional threading of centre within the heart of this novel and she elected to continue to maintain that focus as we moved between characters and timelines of interest. There were times where she could have pulled closer to the horrors of what was happening (ie. when Marguerite was greeted with the death of her father-in-law) but she instead focused on how her characters were reacting and how their emotional responses told more of their character than anything they could have spoken aloud.

In this series, we are anchoured in the present by Zari, in the past with Mira and Elena. The ability to seek out the story through the voices of their characters is quite delightful as you are immediately drawn to Zari due to how adventurous she is in seeking out the truth and the proof of what was once thriving in the past but in the present is only a fluttering of a memory. As you enter Elena’s life as a mountain woman who finds comfort in her healing practices and being a midwife, you also start to see the complications of being a woman in her generation. She has to walk a fine line between her independence and the life which is expected of her to give to a kingdom which is quite unforgiving round the edges. And, then, there is Mira who was an innocent babe in this story – a daughter who was not wanted, an heir of the wrong gender and a twin bourne in secret where only her brother was the celebrated birth.

There is a lot riding the coattails of their lives – especially if you bring into the fray Beatrice who is a nun at an abbey which needs to find a way to financially stablise itself and the arrival of Mira was a welcoming grace as she brought with her a dowry they could not have hoped to have received otherwise. Elena I felt was the most changed by Mira’s birth and Zari is someone we are getting to know in smaller periods of revelation in the opening chapters of the story – to where, Mira’s young life is the central focus to help us align ourselves into their lives and better understand their motivations.

It isn’t often you find a story which stands out from others – by the way it was written, how it was assembled if it were a series and also, what makes it uniquely original. For me, as I read The Girl from Oto – I found a wonderfully Feminist driven plot, strong female leads and an atmosphere of introspective intuitiveness from the past. I found her style not just sophisticated in its scope but multi-layered as she tucked you close to the footsteps of her characters. You didn’t just re-live their lives as they are being depicted but you took a very emotionally connective journey with them.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

The Girl from Oto blog tour via HFVBTs
 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!
Earlier on the blog tour I shared a Spotlight why I was excited about
this novel & the series
as it is evolving through Mira & Zari’s lives.

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Reading this story contributed to a few of my 2019 reading challenges:

2019 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Beat the Backlist banner created by Austine at A Novel Knight and is used with permission.

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “The Girl from Oto”, “The Promise” and “Mira’s Way”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Amy Maroney, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. 2019 New Release Challenge badge provided by and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 18 March, 2019 by jorielov in 16th Century, 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Debut Author, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001)

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