Category: 16th Century

Blog Book Tour | “The Dark Lady’s Mask” by Mary Sharratt

Posted Wednesday, 24 August, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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! I received a complimentary copy of “The Dark Lady’s Mask” direct from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this novel about William Shakespeare:

Ahead of sharing my love of Shakespeare, I am celebrating the return of being able to read a novel of Mary Sharratt for review on Jorie Loves A Story! Whilst I was a 1st Year Book Blogger (observed my 3rd blog birthday earlier this month on the 6th of August), I had the pleasure of joy reading Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen} as my debut review for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in November, 2013! The novel introduced me to an enriched version of reading biographies – an introduction that would carry me forward into the wonderful world of what I refer to as ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’; a mainstay of my reading queues! As routed through this category of interest!

From that foundation, I started to seek out traditional biographies and memoirs, under the new vein of interest called ‘Creative Non-Fiction’ where the stories are threaded through an emotional contextual core of narrative. For you see, if I hadn’t first read Illuminations all the lovelies I’ve been discovering since might not have alighted in my hands to read. Mary Sharratt truly opened my mind and eyes to how a story could be told whilst peering back into the historical past through a living history of a person who once lived. Her style of the craft is quite acutely realistic for the time periods she’s exploring; she has a conviction of setting with a lifeblood of drawing characters out of the wells of history to give us a resounding portrait of ‘who once lived’ can live once again in our own imaginations.

You see, I fell in love with reading Shakespeare when I was fourteen; prior to that year, (as a freshman in high school) I knew of the Bard far more than I had read his works. I was smitten by the idea of what a Shakespearean play would contain but I had not started reading his works until it became required reading. Ironic, no? Of those readings (Romeo & Juliet & Julius Caesar), it was my readings of Caesar that staid with me the most! I liked the tenacity of the piece and the guttingly humanistic emotional tides ebbing in and out of the realisation of how the conspirators befell a leader. There was such a lot of dramatic eclipse in that back-story, I daresay, right then and there, I should have realised how much I would come to appreciate reading Historical Fiction! If only hindsight were available,..

I was gifted a portable collection of Shakespeare’s works for my four and twenty birthday, a fact that isn’t lost on me now that I’m in the latter years of my twentytens; of which selections of plausible readings are listed on my own Classics Club List where they lie in wait for me to soak inside their stories. It isn’t that I have balked at reading more Shakespeare, it’s the mere fact I simply haven’t felt in ‘the mood’ to re-enter his works. There are moments where I distinctively feel literature is based on our moods; this clearly is one of them! Another example would be my distance from the ghost stories of Heather Graham; for me, those require a certain atmosphere to enjoy (i.e. thunderstorms).

As so much has become disputed and/or proved in regards to Shakespeare’s legacy and identity, I felt it was proper time to delve into a portion of the history surrounding him I haven’t yet learnt of first-hand. This is where reading Biographical HistFic is especially fun for me! I get to tuck inside the research and the visionary plausibilities of where known fact and supposition reside to paint an image of ‘what could have been’ and very much could honestly be the living testament of a person who lived so very long ago!

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Blog Book Tour | “The Dark Lady’s Mask” by Mary SharrattThe Dark Lady's Mask
by Mary Sharratt
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Shakespeare in Love meets Shakespeare’s Sister in this novel of England’s first professional woman poet and her collaboration and love affair with William Shakespeare.

London, 1593. Aemilia Bassano Lanier is beautiful and accomplished, but her societal conformity ends there. She frequently cross-dresses to escape her loveless marriage and to gain freedoms only men enjoy, but a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything.

Aemilia grabs at the chance to pursue her long-held dream of writing and the two outsiders strike up a literary bargain. They leave plague-ridden London for Italy, where they begin secretly writing comedies together and where Will falls in love with the beautiful country — and with Aemilia, his Dark Lady. Their Italian idyll, though, cannot last and their collaborative affair comes to a devastating end. Will gains fame and fortune for their plays back in London and years later publishes the sonnets mocking his former muse. Not one to stand by in humiliation, Aemilia takes up her own pen in her defense and in defense of all women.

The Dark Lady’s Mask gives voice to a real Renaissance woman in every sense of the word.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

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Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9780544300767

Also by this author: Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen}, Esctasy

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

on 19th April, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 416

Published ByHoughton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo)

Converse via: #TheDarkLadysMask, #Shakespeare + #HistFic
Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback & Ebook

Read about Aemilia Bassano Lanier via Poetry Foundation

Read Ms Sharratt’s blog post about The Dark Lady’s Mask via Feminism & Religion

About Mary Sharratt

Mary Sharratt

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes: strong women who break all the rules.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Wednesday, 24 August, 2016 by jorielov in 16th Century, Aemilia Bassano Lanier, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Classical Literature, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, William Shakespeare

Book Review | “Kepler and the Universe: How one man revolutionized Astronomy” by David K. Love

Posted Monday, 8 August, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary copy of “Kepler and the Universe” direct from the publisher Prometheus Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why Astronomy and Space Science interest me:

I positively am fascinated by Quantum Physics & Mechanics as much as everything connected to Astrophysics, Cosmology and Astronomy. Kepler is well known by name for his contributions but this is the first time I saw a biography that true went to the heart of who the man was behind the name.

My fascination with the Solar System began quite innocuously at a young age, when I became quite wicked curious about the universe. Casting my eyes skyward to breathe in the evening skies, whilst the stars were twinkling their magical glow back towards Earth was quite the fascination for me as a child. Learning how to recognise the constellations was fuelled by a concentrated focus workshop I took at my local Science Center; a place I would hang my hat every Summer til my thirteenth year. You could say, I grew up with dual passions firmly rooted in both the Arts & Sciences; exploring what interested me and developing my own curiously curious pursuit of knowledge as a result.

Space Science has re-defined itself since I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s; as so much has become known since then, whilst new frontiers to explore have constantly kept scientists and layreaders happily on the ‘edge’ of understanding everything that could draw their curious eyes to become giddy with excitement! I have a cross-love of different topics of interest which have the tendency to overlap each other and cross-relate as well, as if your parlaying your interests into Astronomy, AstroPhysics & AstroBotany are close in pursuit whereas any of the realms pursuant to Quantum Physics is not going to be overlooked but happily followed as well. I can still recollect wandering the Science sections of bookshoppes – wherein I would simply move title to title, seeking new threads of interest to keep tabs on whilst sorting out which topics I might one day like to read for a deeper understanding of insight.

At the heart of where my heart lies in all of this, is Albert Einstein, and by osmosis everyone who arrived at their moment of enlightenment within his generation, prior to his birth or in the decades since his death. There is a lot of history within science and the wicked sweet part for a girl whose mind has a fever of curiosity about ‘all of it’ is that when you stumble across a release such as this, you cannot help but become genuinely interested in devouring it’s contents!

I also felt this would start the shift to seek out more books of this nature, where the scientists who have left me wanting to better understand them could perhaps be sought out on a more regular basis than a haphazard spontaneous focus such as I have done in previous years.

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Book Review | “Kepler and the Universe: How one man revolutionized Astronomy” by David K. LoveKepler and the Universe
Subtitle: How one man revolutionized Astronomy
by David K. Love
Source: Direct from Publisher

A contemporary of Galileo and a forerunner of Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was a pioneering German scientist and a pivotal figure in the history of astronomy. This colorful, well-researched biography brings the man and his scientific discoveries to life, showing how his contributions were every bit as important as those of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton.

It was Kepler who first advocated the completely new concept of a physical force emanating from the sun that controls the motion of the planets—today we call this gravity and take it for granted. He also established that the orbits of the planets were elliptical in shape and not circular. And his three laws of planetary motion are still used by contemporary astronomers and space scientists.

The author focuses not just on these and other momentous breakthroughs but also on Kepler’s arduous life, punctuated by frequent tragedy and hardships. His first wife died young, and eight of the twelve children he fathered succumbed to disease in infancy or childhood. He was frequently caught up in the religious persecutions of the day. His mother narrowly escaped death when she was accused of being a witch.

Intermingling historical and personal details of Kepler’s life with lucid explanations of his scientific research, this book presents a sympathetic portrait of the man and underscores the critical importance of Kepler’s discoveries in the history of astronomy.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781633881068

Genres: Astronomy & Astrophysics, Biography / Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Quantum Physics, Science


Published by Prometheus Books

on 10th November, 2015

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 255

Published By: Prometheus Books (@prometheusbks)

Available Formats: Hardcover and Ebook

About David K. Love

David K. Love

David K. Love is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society and holds a BSc honors degree in astronomy from University College London. After a career as an accountant at British Telecom, he took early voluntary retirement to pursue his scientific interests and writing. He lectures frequently on the history of astronomy and on the origins and evolution of our universe.

Listen to the author on a podcast about Kepler and the Universe

Converse via: #Kepler, #Space, #Astronomy + #ScienceBooks

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Posted Monday, 8 August, 2016 by jorielov in #FuellYourSciFi, #JorieLovesIndies, 16th Century, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cosmology, Johannes Kepler, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Popular Astronomy, Prometheus Books, Quantum | Mechanics Physics Theory, Science, Space Science

#PubDay Book Review | “The Ninja’s Daughter” (Book No.4 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann (previously the Shinobi Mysteries)

Posted Tuesday, 2 August, 2016 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Ninja’s Daughter” direct from the publisher Seventh Street Books (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I love reading the Hiro Hattori novels:

(previously known as the Shinobi Mysteries)

Spann has a way of integrating cultural references into the undercurrent of her narrative, giving the experience of soaking into her suspenseful mystery series a pure delight to any reader who likes to learn about cultures outside of their own.

She has an intricate knowledge to share about weaponry giving a light on the tools of the trade for the Shinobi. There is a clever balance between Japanese spirituality, Zen Buddhism, Christianity, and a few others in-between all three. I love writers who find a way to etch a spiritual presence as part of the make-up of a character’s mind.

(excerpt from my review from Claws of the Cat)

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts! Today I am celebrating the #PubDay #bookbirthday release of The Ninja’s Daughter by an author whose been happily writing sequential stories in my beloved Cosy Historical Mystery series since I first became a book blogger! Our paths crossed initially in late 2013, however, I did not read my first Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori adventure until 2014! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first opened up Claws of the Cat, but what I found forever changed my impression of what a Cosy Historical Mystery set in 16th Century Japan could entail! The visualisations alone make this series a wonderful exploration of the century – as everything is on full display – the fashion, the cultural heritage and the traditions of the Japanese I grew up knowing about due to a cultural interest of my grandparents.

Ms Spann doesn’t just root you to the pages your reading, she flickers such a strong connection of recognition for the century in which her series is set, that you are intimately familiar with the local environs of Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori as soon as you find your feet planted on the footpaths these gentlemen are taking to solve some of the most heinous and horrific crimes of their era. Each capsule of the series is an connective tissue of beautiful continuity and seamless transitions from one story to the next, where you can happily arrive anywhere in the series and find your way inside the stories.

The ease of acceptance within the friendship of Father Mateo and Hiro is what originally endeared me to this cosy historical mystery series, and it is this same connection of two souls of different cultural backgrounds that holds my attention. Spann has a wonderful gift for capitalising on secondary characters who prove to have pivotal roles within the story as we move forward — so much so, that they become a bit of a fixture in your mind’s eye as you re-visit their environment.

Spann continues to write in such a beautiful arc of narrative voice, styling her cosy historical mysteries after the culture she celebrates with each novel she pens. She keeps the characters true to not only their own personal beliefs and convictions, but to the cultural heritage they are naturally akin to representing. I may have voiced wanting to see more emotional responses from the samurai, but that was only as an observational notice of how well controlled their emotions are and how wisely they choose not to show too much emotion to the outside world; as it would be a completely slip of weakness.

There are simply times where you feel as a reader, one character, even if a minor one in a story might react differently than their training; and it is in this, that I celebrate Spann’s gift for historical accuracy as much as personality of character accuracy. The ways of the West and the East do not always align, and by representing her characters with the strength of their own individual personalities, a bridge is reached and crossed.

(excerpt from my review from Blade of the Samurai)

I, personally have held a curiosity for the Samurai, and through this series I feel as if I have developed a kinship awareness of what these men (and select women!) went through for honour, duty and the freedom to respectively serve those of whom they protected. I even love how she bridges the cultural divides between her two lead protagonists whilst owning to the humble truths of both men. They each have their individualistically unique personalities and this aptly shines through the series as well. They have a brotherhood bond between them with an ease of awareness to understand each others’ feelings whilst keeping check with each other if boundaries are crossed.

If you celebrate secondary characters taking their scenes to shine and lead characters who have an intricate path to walk, this is a historical mystery series you can sink your teeth inside with pleasurable joy! I know I have and I am beyond blessed to be continuing to review this series as a reviewer with Ms Spann’s new publisher Seventh Street Books! I am twice honoured as I get to tie-in my showcase of the fourth release with the latest blog tour hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, of which I love being a blog hostess of as Amy Bruno has the knack for selecting wicked good historical fiction to feature through her blog tours whilst uniting all of us who love reading the historical past across centuries and continents! It is through historical fiction narratives we all happily get to become time travellers seeking knowledge, empathy and a moment of truth that is sometimes hidden or overlooked.

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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 a blog tour that I 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 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 in recent years.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Ms 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, whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their series in sequence of publication.

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Notation on Cover Art Design: I personally love the realism in this image – it reminded me so very much of the Japanese masks and porcelain china dolls. Interestingly enough, originally this novel in the series was entitled: Mask of the Fallen – the only evidence of which is how this cover reminded me of that title due to how brilliant the cover resembles a ‘mask’. I was keen to see if this played out to be of key importance in the newly titled The Ninja’s Daughter or if the clue of the title had changed. It’s such a sophisticated treat to see this cover art and to see the new direction of the book jackets!

#PubDay Book Review | “The Ninja’s Daughter” (Book No.4 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann (previously the Shinobi Mysteries)The Ninja's Daughter
Subtitle: A Hiro Hattori Novel
by Susan Spann
Source: Direct from Publisher

Autumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace–but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633881815

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

Also in this series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, Flask of the Drunken Master, Betrayal at Iga, Trial on Mount Koya, (Interview) Trial on Mount Koya


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 2nd August, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 230

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Susan Spann

Susan Spann

Susan Spann is the author of three previous novels in the Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, and Flask of the Drunken Master The series is now known as the Hiro Hattori Novels through it's new publisher Seventh Street Books.

She has a degree in Asian Studies and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. When not writing, she works as a transactional attorney focusing on publishing and business law. She raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium. As well as hosting the inspiring Twitter series of informative publishing insight known as #PubLaw.

Converse via: #HiroHattoriNovels + #HistoricalMystery or #HistMyst

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Tuesday, 2 August, 2016 by jorielov in 16th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, 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