Category: 16th Century

Author Interview | Conversing with Japanese #mystery writer Susan Spann, on behalf of her epic historical suspense series: the Shinobi Mysteries!

Posted Friday, 21 August, 2015 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva

It’s hard to properly express my absolute joy in sinking into a Shinobi mystery, except to say, the 16th Century Ms Spann has created is a welcome reprieve and respite each time I soak inside one of her installments on this expansive Historical Cosy Mystery series! I have a strong preference for Cosies as a whole, but a lovely new *niche!* of joy for me is the Cosy Historicals, of which I’ve been happily championing and blogging about for nearly two years! (i.e. the life of JLAS!)

The incredible breadth of research the authors knit into their stories of suspense and the realistic clarity of their eras in time is what compells me forward into each new story that happily alights in my hands to read! When it comes to the Shinobi mysteries, Spann has such a dedicated eye for continuity and a convincing voice for historical narrative set in an era so far removed from our own, she convinces you dearly that your in the 16th Century! This is beneficial on many levels but for me personally, I love the time travelling component that walks hand-in-hand with meeting up with two of my now beloved characters of suspense: Father Mateo and Hiro!

They have their own unique way of relating to each other, full of respect and honour, but with a uniqueness all of their own. The setting is vividly represented and the cultural heritage as well as the traditions of the Japanese are eloquently described lending an internal lens on a country many of us might not have the pleasure of visiting otherwise. I appreciate finding the new little bits and bobbles Spann knits inside her Shinobi mysteries; new secondary characters, new locales, new little insights into her lead characters, and of course, — the innate level of suspense where a mystery (always quite murderous) greets you, and a task to sleuth wraps your mind and heart around this evolving series!

For the HFVBTs spotlight, I wanted to step through the series, and combine my curiosities thus far along into a lively conversation that spans the first three novels, as we all sit on pins awaiting book No.4 Mask of the Fallen in 2016! This is an author and series I immediately get giddy about reading, as it should be when you find a writer who curates a living story of characters who breathe as real as their composites in our living world!

Here is our conversation as it unfolds and notice the little revelations from the writer which might surprise you along the way!

On my connection to Susan Spann:

I started visiting the chats hosted by @LitChat in the latter months of 2013, as it was around the time of the conference at The Betsy in which I started to cross paths with regular chatters, amongst whom were Natalia Sylvester (début novelist of “Chasing the Sun”) and Susan Spann. I am unsure which month I first started to notice Ms. Spann as a friendly presence who always reminded me of myself — someone who provided cheerful commentary, engaging questions for each visiting guest author, and a wicked knowledge base on a variety of topics. Generally speaking, I always click-over to read a person’s Twitter profile, but whilst engaged in those #LitChat(s) I felt like it was this magical rendezvous for the bookish and those who are attuned to bookish culture.

In this way, it wasn’t until I learnt of Blade of the Samurai was going on tour through TLC Book Tours that I had decided to discover a bit more about her! In so doing, I learnt who she was ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak! I always considered her one of my ‘friends in the twitterverse’ but I never disclosed this to her until I was on the (Blade of the Samurai) blog tour in September 2014! Such serendipity as the tour has brought us a bit closer and I am grateful that Twitter is a social-positive method of reaching past our distances in geography to connect to people who share a passion for the written word. We have continued to remain in touch although we do not get to ‘meet-up’ on Twitter as often as we once did due to our schedules.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Spann through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst attending #LitChat or in private convos. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Susan SpannAuthor Biography:

Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her début novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

Author Connections:

Official Author WebsitesSite | @SusanSpann | Blog

Converse via: #ShinobiMystery#ShinobiMysteries OR #FlaskOfTheDrunkenMaster

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

You have such a clever way of etching into your stories lovely hidden clues that reveal a bit about the direction of the Shinobi mysteries – I was curious was this innate and organic evolving through how the stories inked themselves together or was it something you hoped to add to help readerly sleuths get caught up in the journey with a bit of insider edge?

Spann responds: The best answer is “a little of both.” I have a larger series outline which helps me track the larger arc. Since I know where the series is going, a lot of the foreshadowing drops in naturally during the writing process. That said, I also do insert some deliberate clues in the editing process. (Also: thank you for the lovely compliment about the books.) Read More

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Posted Friday, 21 August, 2015 by jorielov in 16th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity

Blog Book Tour | “Flask of the Drunken Master” No.3 of the #ShinobiMysteries by Susan Spann

Posted Monday, 10 August, 2015 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was offered the chance to be a tour stop on the “Flask of the Drunken Master” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours as I toured with them last year for the second release “Blade of the Samauri”, wherein I was able to receive “Claws of the Cat” in order to best understand the foundation of the Shinobi mystery series. I received a complimentary hardback copy of the “Flask of the Drunken Master” direct from the author Susan Spann, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On my connection to Susan Spann:

I started visiting the chats hosted by @LitChat in the latter months of 2013, as it was around the time of the conference at The Betsy in which I started to cross paths with regular chatters, amongst whom were Natalia Sylvester (début novelist of “Chasing the Sun”) and Susan Spann. I am unsure which month I first started to notice Ms. Spann as a friendly presence who always reminded me of myself — someone who provided cheerful commentary, engaging questions for each visiting guest author, and a wicked knowledge base on a variety of topics. Generally speaking, I always click-over to read a person’s Twitter profile, but whilst engaged in those #LitChat(s) I felt like it was this magical rendezvous for the bookish and those who are attuned to bookish culture.

In this way, it wasn’t until I learnt of Blade of the Samurai was going on tour through TLC Book Tours that I had decided to discover a bit more about her! In so doing, I learnt who she was ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak! I always considered her one of my ‘friends in the twitterverse’ but I never disclosed this to her until I was on the (Blade of the Samurai) blog tour in September 2014! Such serendipity as the tour has brought us a bit closer and I am grateful that Twitter is a social-positive method of reaching past our distances in geography to connect to people who share a passion for the written word. We have continued to remain in touch although we do not get to ‘meet-up’ on Twitter as often as we once did due to our schedules.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Spann through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst attending #LitChat or in private convos. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “Flask of the Drunken Master” No.3 of the #ShinobiMysteries by Susan SpannFlask of the Drunken Master
by Susan Spann
Source: Author via TLC Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Also by this author: Author Q&A : Susan Spann (on behalf of her Shinobi mysteries), Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, Interview with Susan Spann (FLASK), The Ninja's Daughter, Author Interview (Hiro Hattori Novels), Betrayal at Iga

Series: Shinobi Mystery, Hiro Hattori


Also in this series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, The Ninja's Daughter, Betrayal at Iga, Trial on Mount Koya, (Interview) Trial on Mount Koya


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

Format: Hardcover Edition

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book)
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook

Converse via: #ShinobiMystery#ShinobiMysteries OR #FlaskOfTheDrunkenMaster

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Susan SpannSusan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her début novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Returning to the Shinobi Mysteries:

It never fails to surprise me how easily I can dip back inside this world, Ms Spann has created for us to find because between my readings a full year has transitioned forward, and despite my yearnings to re-read through Claws of the Cat and Blade of the Samurai it speaks very highly of the author whose beautiful continuity in shifting us forward into her next installment of Shinobi mysteries can be done with such a deft of grace and honesty; time hasn’t passed at all! The beauty for me truly is seeing how the characters resonate with my mind’s memory of them, and how those transitions back onto the page are bridged so well, as if I truly hadn’t spent any hour apart from where their last adventure together left off! Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Monday, 10 August, 2015 by jorielov in 16th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Mystery, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, TLC Book Tours

Blog Book Tour | “The Perfect Fool” by Bethany Zohner Herbert

Posted Saturday, 25 April, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: 

I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “The Perfect Fool” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Curious to Read:

Aside from being a Court Jester once upon a moon, I have oft felt I need to dip back into the breadth of Renaissance stories, as I only visit the Medieval era on the lark of finding a title that interests me. You can be assured this is a limited affair, and the interesting bit to it is that I love the world of Kings, Queens, Lords, and the whole ‘scene’ of court life. There is a hankering to dig into the Renaissance to understand the origins of fine art as much as the incredible freedoms that came out of the period of great change and societal tolerance for differences in faith. It was a riveting time to say the least!

I have the tendency to opt for a drama over a comedy, satire, or folly filled story — in part, because my reading life is a good reflection of my tv serial and motion picture viewing preferences wheren I find it’s hard to find the sophisticated comedy (i.e. this reads ‘clean humour’) I find delightful when most releases are quite askewed to the gutter. I like to laugh but I don’t want my mind to be taken down a line of dialogue that deflects rather than uplifts.

Dramas are a bit more of a stable choice for me, but on occasion I find myself a bit curious about reading a fluffier story if only to take a proper hiatus from war dramas, historical biographical fiction, and my tendency to read heart wrenching women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Thus The Perfect Fool felt it might fit a void I’ve carved into my reading queue without realising I was missing a portion of literature on the softer and lighter side. Even if I were to be frank, most of the plays of Shakespeare which are my ‘go to’ mentions are the tragedies; except for one, Much Ado About Nothing and I have Emma Thompson to credit for that, as it was her adaptation in motion picture which convinced me of it’s charm.

Blog Book Tour | “The Perfect Fool” by Bethany Zohner HerbertThe Perfect Fool
by Bethany Zohner Herbert
Source: Direct from Publisher

Plucked from the streets to become a court jester, Farrago's life is simple and carefree. No one demands much of him, and that's exactly how he likes it. But everything changes when Farrago begins flirting with a scullery maid named Thea. And when Farrago learns the truth about Thea's identity, he must decide just how far he's willing to go for the chance to follow his heart.

This quirky medieval tale is a fun and romantic read - a charming balance of humour and suspense. With a plot that's full of twists, it's guaranteed to keep you guessing.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Historical Fiction


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 14th April, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #ThePerfectFool or #PerfectFool *methinks it should be #PerfectFoolBook as the tags on Twitter are routing quite ‘unique’ references to both!

About Bethany Zohner Herbert

Bethany Zohner Herbert was born in Salt Lake City, and aside from a short amount of time living in England and the South, she is back in her native Idaho where she grew up. She has been a fan of books since before she could write.

She earned her Bachelor’s in creative writing from BYU-Idaho and her Master’s in literature and writing from Utah State University.

When not coming up with weird stories, she likes participating in and teaching Zumba, making crafts (silly ones like puppets) reading, and dating her husband.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Saturday, 25 April, 2015 by jorielov in 16th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Castles & Estates, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Childhood Friendship, Creative Arts, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Literature for Boys, Orphans & Guardians, Teacher & Student Relationships, the Renaissance (14th-17th Centuries)

Blog Book Tour | “Midnight Runner” by Marilee Jackson A debut novelist who gave me quite a heap to blog about with this #histfic!

Posted Friday, 13 February, 2015 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Cedar Fort whereupon I am thankful to have such a diverse amount of novels and non-fiction titles to choose amongst to host. I received a complimentary copy of “Midnight Runner” direct from the publisher Front Table Books (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Curiosity was Piqued:

My curiosity to read this novel was piqued as I do happen to be drawn into story-lines where the lead characters are caught inside compelling dramas. I like reading about strong female characters who overcome adversity and as I routinely mention, I have a particular fondness for Southern Lit which can be quite an emotional and difficult read (depending on the novel).

What stood out to me before I went into reading Midnight Runner is how two girls of seemingly different backgrounds find their lifepaths intersected with each other’s — to where it would appear on the onset, a choice has to be made about how to move forward or how to stumble backwards. This is most definitely a novel of flight in order to survive and overcome a past that is not wrought out of happy circumstances, yet the title lead characters spoke to me within the small space of the synopsis to implore a closer examination of their story.

I fancy historical fiction moreso than I ever realised, so for this to be set within the Medieval Ages (I marked this as 15th & 16th Centuries as the ‘exact’ date is unknown) held a certain cross-appeal for me. Books are my method of time travelling, and if I can find a way to cart myself back as far as I dare to stretch my imagination, I want to go where an author will lead me! I’m just never quite as certain if where I end up is somewhere where I want to settle for a long period of time! Ha! The journey itself is what envelopes me into a character’s shoes and into the heart of where a novel resides.

Blog Book Tour | “Midnight Runner” by Marilee Jackson A debut novelist who gave me quite a heap to blog about with this #histfic!Midnight Runner
by Marilee Jackson
Source: Direct from Publisher

"Run." The soft whisper in her ear cut through the pitch-black hiding place. After the nightmare she had just endured, he was the only person she could still trust.

She waited. The silence surrounded her life a heavy blanket.

"Run!" he shouted, and they took off in opposite directions.

Orphaned, mistreated, and misunderstood, Moira has always dreamed of building a new life in the royal city. But when she finally arrives, her ambition gets the better of her. And little orphan Moira becomes a person she never imagined.

Isobail has never been ambitious. She wants nothing more than the simple life she's always enjoyed. But when she's recruited to work in the royal city, she finds her dreams changing.

This medieval tale of secrets, mistaken identities, romance, and long-sought redemption is sure to captivate readers. With a compelling story and characters that will keep you guessing, this book will change how you feel about villains and heroines, loss and love.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Young Adult Fiction


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 10th February, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 272

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),

an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFortBooks)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #MidnightRunner Read More

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Posted Friday, 13 February, 2015 by jorielov in 15th Century, 16th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Trailer, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Castles & Estates, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Coming-Of Age, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Domestic Violence, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Midwife | Midwifery, Orphans & Guardians, Psychological Abuse, Re-Told Tales, Realistic Fiction, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Women's Fiction, Young Adult Fiction