Category: Women of Power & Rule

Book Spotlight | “The Jinni’s Last Wish” by Zeonbia Neil

Posted Thursday, 29 November, 2018 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Spotlight 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 Jinni’s Last Wish” direct from the author Zenobia Neil in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was interested in reading this novel:

Ever since I read The Golem and the Jinni, I’ve been interested in reading about the Jinn. I’ve been trying to seek out new stories involving the Jinn and also, eras specific to when the mythology of the Jinn are explored – either of themselves or interacting with others in a larger scope of world-building where they not just interact but they are only one dimension of the story at hand. This particular story, I thought might transfer me backwards in time to where the Jinn were very well known, if not feared by some for the powers they held within them to affect a person’s life or destiny whilst being within the period of the historic past, I thought would offer keen insight into cultural traditions I haven’t yet explored in more detail.

I honestly thought this was going to be more of a historical overlay involving the cultural texture of society during the Ottoman Empire with threads of the Jinn and the maids of the sultan intersecting through the narrative, where the empathsis was more on the fantastical elements of how the Jinn might mitigate events or situations to inter-step through the characters’ lives whilst giving us a strong impression of how the society of the Empire was formed, structured and organised during the time of the sultan’s rule. As with most historical specific narratives, I was interested in the history being brought to life and stepping into a new era I hadn’t visited as regularly as others.

A bit similar to how I found Stephanie Thornton’s Daughter of the Gods – where I literally felt like I had left modern life and re-entered the Egyptian past. Sadly, this wasn’t quite the story I found inside and I wasn’t able to re-adjust into the narrative I found as it was too starkly outside the stories I regularly read.

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Book Spotlight | “The Jinni’s Last Wish” by Zeonbia NeilThe Jinni's Last Wish
by Zenobia Neil
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

As a eunuch in the Ottoman Imperial Harem, Olin has already lost his home, his freedom, and his manhood. His only wish is for a painless death, until he meets Dark Star, a beautiful odalisque who promises to give him his deepest desire. He refuses to believe her claim to possess a jinni in a bottle. But when Dark Star is accused of witchcraft, Olin rubs the bottle in desperation and discovers she’s told the truth.

Olin becomes the jinni’s master to save Dark Star, but it’s not enough. In the complex world of the Topkapi Palace, where silk pillows conceal knives, sherbets contain poison, and jewels buy loyalty, no one is safe. With each wish, Olin must choose between becoming like the masters he detests or risk his life, his body, and his sanity to break the bonds that tie them all.

Places to find the book:

ASIN: B07FLDRY4V

Also by this author:

Genres: Ancient Civilisation, Historical Fiction, Historical-Fantasy


Published by Self Published Author

on 13th September, 2018

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 224

The Jinni’s Last Wish

The Odalisque’s Wish (companion short story)

five-flames

I’ve been placing flames on those stories which are more sensually charged narratives – this one however, I felt left the ‘romantic’ side of Historical Romance & Historical Fantasy and went straight into Historical Erotica due to the elevated nature of the sensuality being explored in the story-line. It was more than a bit of surprise as mentioned on my review and unfortunately, was the key reason I was drawn out of the story itself as there wasn’t a lot left to remain invested in the plot.

Converse via: #HistoricalFantasy & Historical Erotica

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

About Zenobia Neil

Zenobia Neil

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Zenobia spends her free time imagining interesting people and putting them in terrible situations.

She lives with her husband, two children, and dog in an overpriced hipster neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 29 November, 2018 by jorielov in Ancient Civilisation, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Content Note, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Sexually Explicit Content (Erotica), Women of Power & Rule

Blog Book Tour | “A Song of War: A Novel of Troy” by Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, and Russell Whitfield

Posted Thursday, 3 November, 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 ARC copy of “A Song of War” direct from the publisher Knight Media in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this title interested me to read:

When it comes to Helen of Troy, the Trojan War and Greek Myths such as The Iliad, you could say I took an about-face course of action whenever these subjects were broached in school. I did not see a need to change that status until recently, when an opportunity to read an anthology collection based on the Trojan War appeared in my blog tour folder. I will say, the Trojan War fascinated me when I was younger (as I loved studying key moments in History; a budding History buff & appreciator of war dramas in fiction) however, it was Helen herself that keenly intrigued me. I wanted to take the discussion in school to a deeper level than the bare bone facts and trivia soundbites, but alas, my peers were not as keen as I was on that front, and thus, I grew bored. The trend for me is that once I turnt bored on a topic or subject in school, I simply tuned it out. Frustrating to my teachers but I was more vexed how tediously repetitive and superficial most discussions were and how ironic my classmates were never bored.

One of the reasons I love reviewing anthologies (previously I’ve spent more attention on seeking out Science Fiction, Fantasy and Cosy Horror anthologies!) is the nature of how you get the proper chance to ‘meet’ multiple authors, or renew interest in ones you already know and appreciate. Sometimes it’s a mix of the two, if you read successive anthologies and find the same authors are represented and/or if in this instance, you find the happy surprise of a historical author you appreciate is included (for me, this would be Stephanie Thornton).

I approach reviewing anthologies differently than novels – for me, it’s seeking out the stories contained in the anthology that garnished the most connection to the context, character and timescape. If this were SF/F/H I would also be focused on the layering of thematic or the depth of the world-building. With my readings of Troy, I was looking for the aesthetics of the era, the general cohesiveness of how the time was represented and of course, the clarity shining through the point-of-view of the lead and supporting characters.

The best part of anthologies is never knowing how many of the stories you’ll feel wholly enthused about reading nor which story stands out in the end. It’s like a grab bag of literary gold – each story has the chance to touch your heart and imagination – but will it?! And, if so, why!? I also like reading biographies or Appendixes in anthologies – my ARC copy included Author Notes but was re-missive on the Introduction by Glyn Iliffe. Thankfully I let my fingers do the walking and I found it included in the “behind the book” preview on Amazon. The blessing for me, it was only a short paragraph and not a few pages, as reading length digitally is not something I can do.

Imagine then, my wicked joy in descending into this historical anthology – dearly curious on my own behalf of which author would etch such a strong impression as to leave me even more full of wonder about the Trojans, Helen and a period of history that still paints a fever pitch of interest in today’s modern literary world.

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Blog Book Tour | “A Song of War: A Novel of Troy” by Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, and Russell WhitfieldA Song of War
Subtitle: A Novel of Troy
by Christian Cameron, Kate Quinn, Libbie Hawker, Russell Whitfield, Sja Turney, Stephanie Thornton, Vicky Alvear Shecter
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years. But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy’s gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.

A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.

A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.

A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.

A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.

A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.

A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.

A goddess’ son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood.

Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781536931853

Also by this author: Daughter of the Gods, Author Interview (Stephanie Thornton), The Tiger Queens

Genres: Ancient Civilisation, Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Historical Fiction, Short Story or Novella, War Drama


Published by Knight Media LLC

on 18th October, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 483

Originally Published By: Knight Media
Available Formats: Paperback

Converse via: #HistFic, #Illaid + #HTeam

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Thursday, 3 November, 2016 by jorielov in 12th Century BC, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Greece, Andromache (Hector's wife) of Troy, Anthology Collection of Stories, ARC | Galley Copy, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Brothers and Sisters, Equality In Literature, Feminine Heroism, Gods & Goddesses, Greek Mythology, Hector of Troy, Helen of Troy, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, History, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Military Fiction, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Paris of Troy, Prejudicial Bullying & Non-Tolerance, Re-Told Tales, Short Stories or Essays, Siblings, The Bronze Age (Trojan War era), Twin Siblings, Vulgarity in Literature, War Drama, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women of Power & Rule

Blog Book Tour | “The Judgment” by D.J. Niko #Biblical #HistoricalFiction

Posted Friday, 10 June, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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

On how I acquired the book & my connection to the publicist:

I was selected to participate on The Judgment blog tour coordinated by Hook of a Book Media & Publicity, run by a fellow book blogger and friend of mine: Erin Al-Mehairi. I crossed paths with Erin via her book blog Oh for the Hook of a Book when I first started hosting blog tours for historical fiction writers via HFVBTs. Our friendship developed out of a shared passion for riveting historicals with compelling stories and incredibly dimensional characters who felt they could walk off the pages! Friendship aside, as I start to host for her authors my opinions are based solely on the story I am reading for review and are never influenced by my connection to Erin. I take each story I am reading as a new experience whether or not I know the author or publicist directly or have only met them for the first time by accepting a book to review.

I received my complimentary copy of The Judgment direct from the author D.J. Niko 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 ‘The Judgment’:

(initial reaction)

I’ve seen her novels on blog tours, but the timing was never good for me to participate or get involved whilst the tours were progressing. I liked the fact this historical takes place in Ancient History! I’ve been wanting to find authors who write during this section of history, as Biblical Historical Fiction fascinates me! I also love the Ancient Civilisations of Egypt and Rome, whilst learning more about History so far removed from our present world to soak inside something wonderfully different! This was one reason I was so keen to read Stephanie Thornton’s “Daughter of the Gods” which I thoroughly LOVED!

Expanding on my initial joyous celebration of being selected to read my first Niko novel, and thereby my second Biblical Historical novel, I wanted to recaptialise on things I had shared during a blog tour about Women of the Bible: Scripture Princesses by Rebecca J. Greenwood (see Review & the Q&A) wherein I talked about my appreciation for ‘meeting’ some of the remarkable women of the Biblical Historical past. When I first encountered the book blogosphere, I went instinctively to my favourite author’s blogs (i.e. Lauren Willig* & Julie Lessman) before finding The Word Wenches*, Heroes, Heroines & History, and routed myself through the INSPY Fiction blogs which took me to a lot of incredible authors & book bloggers sites alike! I was stumbling across writers for Biblical Historical Fiction along that route as well, except to say, this isn’t a new pursuit of mine!

Going back into my childhood, when I would visit book shoppes quite regularly, seeking a wicked good story that may or may not be designated for my age group (as once I fought to understand how to read, I grew easily bored remaining inside my age group of selections! thus, I read adult novels by thirteen; although I sampled a bit prior to that! there wasn’t such a designated genre to explore like there is today for ‘young adult’.) – thus, I started to fetch an eye of interest for the Biblical fiction authors even back then! At the time, I knew the issues and story-lines facing those characters were going to be difficult to read, so I side-stepped them for lighter INSPY novels – mostly Historical Romance or a story of the Amish, as Amish & Mennonite Fiction always delighted me, as I had a bakery IRL as a teenager run by a local Mennonite family.

My curiosity for this section of literature, was re-inspired by Stephanie Thorton’s novel (as foresaid) but also by the Early Reader introduction by Ms Greenwood! I simply haven’t had the proper chance to sort through what is readily available to read whilst dipping further back into the past, than perhaps, I routinely do! We all have our ‘favourite’ timescapes and settings; for me, I like to continue to challenge myself to even move further back into the past, root out new heroines and heroes of time I may never have heard of or only know by ‘name’ but not on a personal level of saying ‘this person lived this life & accomplished this’.

When I caught sight of the premise behind The Judgment, I felt this was as good of a place as any to continue my journey — reading a story set against the backdrop of Kings would be an easy transition for me, as I spend enough hours wrapped up in the Royal Courts of England (throughout their extensive historical past!) to know a bit about life at court inasmuch as the political potboilers & changing tides that goes along with that kind of a life.

Some (aspects) of the story I know loosely based on lessons I learnt ages ago in Sunday School but I never would say my classes dipped past the superficial acknowledgement of things; hence one of the wrinkles I oft found with Sunday School. We might have been told about King Solomon being a ruler, but the lessons fell flat just as my lessons in school always did as well – names, dates, event markers in time; but never the exploration of who a particular person was or how that person lived or even, what happened between their birth, major event and date of death?

There is so much between ‘dates’ and ‘events’ – this is one reason I have drawn a pleasurable passion in reading Historical Fiction; imagine what is awaiting me in Biblical Historical Fiction!? Not to mention, in this instance it’s partially ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’, too! To say I was excited would be putting it mildly!

*NOTE: As I read across genres, I also read across Mainstream & INSPY literary spectrums; these two were earmarked to say, they were not INSPY but Mainstream. As literature to me is forever all-encompassing. To find out which INSPY authors are marked on my most immediate ‘next reads’ list, please visit my 70 Authors Challenge!

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Notation on Cover Art: It is hard not to readily notice the cover art on behalf of ‘The Judgment’ due to how strong the woman on the cover is portrayed! You immediately think back towards King Solomon’s era of life – where boldness was paramount to power; where women had to endeavour to overcome great odds & find the will to reign even when their heart was not fully invested. It was a time of uncertainty and a time where bold colours are felt to have flourished; thus I felt the make-up choices and the darker lit design befitted the quick impression that flitted to mind after reading the  premise of the story! Once I greeted Basemath in the first Chapter, everything pulled together nicely! It truly is a striking book cover but to match the character is beyond brilliant! Unfortunately for me, I believe my first inclination to believe which character is featured on the cover was mistaken.

Blog Book Tour | “The Judgment” by D.J. Niko #Biblical #HistoricalFictionThe Judgment
by D.J. Niko
Source: Direct from Author via Hook of a Book Media & Publicity

965 BCE

Upon the death of his father, Solomon has been appointed king of the united monarchy of Israel and Judah and charged with building the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. He travels to Egypt to negotiate with Pharaoh Psusennes II for gold for the temple and to improve relations between the two nations. There he falls in love with the pharaoh’s beautiful daughter, Nicaule, and the two kings agree to an arranged marriage. Against her will, for she loves another, Nicaule follows her new husband to Israel.

Forty years later, Solomon’s empire is on the verge of collapse. Power has made him arrogant, permissive, and blind to the scheming of his wife and one of his lieutenants to topple the united monarchy. As the king’s faith falters and his people’s morals collapse, enemies gather at the gates of Israel. A visit from a mysterious queen restores Solomon’s perspective in time to save his soul—but it is too late to preserve his kingdom.

Someone who once was loyal to King Solomon has come back to claim the crown of Israel—and tear Solomon’s empire asunder.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Ancient Civilisation, Biblical Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction


Published by Medallion Press

on 10th May, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 317

Published By: Medallion Press (@medallionpress)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #TheJudgment, #AncientHistory & #WomenInHistory

+ #BiblicalFiction or #HistFic

Read the Guest Post attached to the blog tour I appreciated the most | The Lit Bitch

About D.J. Niko

D.J. Niko

D.J. Niko is the pseudonym for Daphne Nikolopoulos, an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer who has spent her entire adult life traveling the world.

As a former travel writer and zealous adventurer, she has visited remote spots on six continents, many of which have inspired her archaeological thriller series, The Sarah Weston Chronicles. She was born and raised in Athens, Greece, and now resides in Florida with her family.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Friday, 10 June, 2016 by jorielov in 10th Century BC, 1st Millennium BC, A Father's Heart, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Biblical Fiction, Biblical History, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Cover | Original Illustration & Design, Christianity, Content Note, Domestic Violence, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Hook of a Book Media & Publicity, Important Figures of Ancient Times, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Iron Age, King Solomon, Mental Health, Military Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women of Power & Rule

+Blog Book Tour+ The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden

Posted Friday, 20 June, 2014 by jorielov , , , 5 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden

The Lost Duchess Virtual Book Tour with HFVBT

Published By: Ebury Press (), 5 June, 2014 (paperback)
an imprint of Random House Group, Ltd. UK ()

Official Author Websites: Site | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Author is Active on: English Historical Fiction Authors Blog

Available Formats:  Hardcover, Paperback, & Ebook
Page Count: 448

Converse on Twitter: #LostDuchessBlogTour & #TheLostDuchess OR

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Lost Duchess” virtual book tour through HFVBT: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Jenny Barden, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Curiosity Inspired Me to Read:

I felt plumb delighted to read this novel as it sounded quite exciting if you ask me! I love the appeal of diving into the lost colonies and of course, who wouldn’t like a thriller set at sea and land?!

I am always a reader whose eye bewitches her attention from one period of history to another, and the one section of literature I have not yet rallied my will to venture into is that of the high seas epics! I have already earmarked off the novels of Patrick O’ Brian and others like him, who enhance my curiosity and warm me to the descriptions of life at sea. I am an adventurer in spirit, and as I had relaid to MaryLu Tyndall last year whilst she was touring the blogosphere for Forsaken Dreams, I felt inclined to tell her that if I had had the proposition to set sail for a new world and a new way of living, I’d have embarked on the journey forthwith! My mind furvoured over this recollection as I broached the premise of The Lost Duchess; twirling over in my mind if I was ready to set sail and fully breathe in narrative on the high seas! As you can see, the answer that bubbled to the surface was a resounding yes! And, I think a bit inspired by my fascination and delight in reading a ChocLitUK novel entitled: Close to the Wind!

I am always forever grateful when there are enclosures with the books I receive for review, in this particular case, the paperback copy of The Lost Duchess was signed by the author! She even went so far as to include a business card which features the book cover art and her contact information, as well as a lovely postcard which includes the book synopsis on one side and a framed book cover image on the opposite one! I am always marvelling at the little surprises authors and publishers tuck into books for book bloggers, because it is one step closer to keeping the circle between us an interactive experience. I even adore the Editor’s Notes that come inside ARCs or the extensive Press Releases which publishers generally tuck inside ARCs and finished copies alike! Little bobbles of joy which make me smile as I ease into the narratives at hand! A charming reminder that what we do as we blog is appreciated but more than that, that writers are as bookish as the readers who appreciate the opportunity to read their novels! In that, we all like to have little tangible memories to reflect back on our experiences, and I am always pleasantly delighted to find what is included inside my book parcels!

I cannot express my gratitude enough for the bookmarks, as previously mentioned mine are all packed along with my personal library (for the most part!). The little business card for The Lost Duchess held my place as I shifted through the pages, and it was as fondly used as the curious little business card I wished I had had for To Live Forever by Andra Wakins! I watched so many of Wakins “Natchez Trace videos” I nearly thought it would be a keen keepsake to have a little card as a nodding reminder of my connection to her experience and journey on the Trace! The happy bit for me is using bookmarks from various authors inside new books as they arrive to be read — little fingerprints of reflections drift through my mind and heart, as I nestle into the story at hand, and for that, I am one very blessed and thankful book blogger!

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Book Synopsis:

An epic Elizabethan adventure with a thriller pace and a high tension love story that moves from the palaces of England to the savage wilderness of the New World.

Emme Fifield has fallen about as far as a gentlewoman can.

Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the new America where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset.

Emme joins Kit Doonan’s rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a voyage will be far from easy and Emme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least.

As for Kit, the handsome mariner has spent years imprisoned by the Spanish, and living as an outlaw with a band of escaped slaves; he has his own inner demons to confront, and his own dark secrets to keep…

Ever since Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement in Virginia was abandoned in 1587 its fate has remained a mystery; ‘The Lost Duchess’ explores what might have happened to the ill-starred ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke.

Author Biography:Jenny Barden

I’ve had a love of history and adventure ever since an encounter in infancy with a suit of armour at Tamworth Castle. Training as an artist, followed by a career as a city Jenny (Portrait 2)solicitor, did little to help displace my early dream of becoming a knight. A fascination with the Age of Discovery led to travels in South and Central America, and much of the inspiration for my debut came from retracing the footsteps of Francis Drake in Panama. The sequel centres on the first Elizabethan ‘lost colony’ of early Virginia. I am currently working on an epic adventure during the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada.

My work has appeared in short story collections and anthologies and I’ve written for non-fiction publications including the Historical Novels Review. I am active in many organisations, having run the ‘Get Writing’ conferences for several years, and undertaken the co-ordination of the Historical Novel Society’s London Conference 2012. I am a member of that organisation as well as the Historical Writers’ Association, the Romantic Nevelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. I’ll be co-ordinating the RNA’s annual conference in 2014.

I have four children and now live on a farm in Dorset with my long suffering husband and an ever increasing assortment of animals.

I love travelling, art, reading and scrambling up hills and mountains (though I’m not so keen on coming down!).

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comA notation on Cover Art:

There are moments of great joy to discover a book cover as captivating as the one on The Lost Duchess. The moment you lock eyes with the woman who graces the page, you instinctively realise that you want to venture into her life and follow where she will lead. Her clothes are quite ornate, but it is the unexpected notice she is giving you that eludes the story will no doubt capture your full attention once it is begun to be consumed. She has a story to tell, and I knew that in combination with the book’s synopsis, this was a story I wanted to walk alongside her and know intimately.

There is a common debate I have noticed recently in the book blogosphere and the twitterverse, about the presumption of selection on the books we elect to read. One side claims it is by the book cover alone and the other side laments that it is on the merits of the story’s premise. I, on the other hand, have claimed to say:

Truly though, about why I am drawn into a book!? It goes directly into the heart of the narrative — I look for book synopsis which etch out a story-line full of heart & soul characters, who either need to go on a journey of discovery or are going to live through a life experience which will either shape them, break them, or transform them. Thinking back on my own young adult years — it was the story which took central focus – I have not changed my spots! My blog is aptly named as you get to know me! I might love a book cover, but I cannot love it fully unless I get a sense of the story within it – the cover is the shell, the heart of the joy in reading lies in the pages between the covers! -quoted from my comment on Ellen Mulholland’s blog

Mistress of the Sea by Jenny BardenFor you see, I may well fancy a book’s cover illustrations and artwork, but for me, if the book itself does not ink out a reason to savvy my interest and eyes to become enthralled with its contents, I am afraid I do not pick the book up irregardless of how much I might admit the cover is quite a remarkable piece of art. For to me, it is art then, and not a story of interest. I am not sure if the debate will ever be settled, but one thing I wanted to mention is how I appreciate book covers in successive order of release from authors have a ‘turning nod’ to each other. Case in point, is the début novel (Mistress of the Sea) by Ms. Barden (seen in this paragraph) whereupon the filigree edges and the atmosphere of colours selected against the backdrop are in tune with the cover for The Lost Duchess.

Previously, I observed the same keen attention given to the books of Stephanie Thornton, as I reviewed her second novel, Daughter of the Gods recently on another Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. The connectiveness in sequence and choice of design makes me smile inwardly, because the covers then become a bit of a triptych when viewed alongside each other (if there are three in sequence, such as the Daughter of Boston series by Julie Lessman). I like this attention to nuance detail and the methodology of selecting covers which help readers identify the collective work of an author when they go to borrow or purchase their books. I will need to remember to add notations each time I discover this amongst the books I read next, as it is one detail that I appreciate most.

Aside from period specific choices in clothing, as although I do not always realise when I am being duped by period designs and examples, there are moments where I have an inclination to feel that perhaps the clothing or manner of style on a cover is a bit of out time for the story it is attempting to reflect. Barden’s covers are an elegant grace in excellence and her tomes of work will delight all the senses a reader uses to soak into a novel’s heart.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comMy Review of The Lost Duchess:

The Lost Duchess by Jenny BardenThe wide-eyed innocence of a maid-in-waiting to the Queen is ripped out of her bodice and attacked by a most vile individual who did not see Emme Fifield as a woman to respect and honour, but an object to possess. Her most tender courage of youthful spirit encapsulated her from the worst of the attack by muffling her angst ridden heart and the screams she would have belted to heaven if not in fear of the Queen, her liege in finding out the truth. Barden opens The Lost Duchess in such a powerful way as to beg the reader’s notice that what was once felt in locking eyes with Emme on the cover, now turns to an increasingly beguiling sense of knowing.

Her steadfast knowledge of a woman’s place in the Elizabethan age purported her plight, as she knew very well that if any person learnt of her disgrace of being attacked, the brunt of the burden would be solely placed on her shoulders. The rights of women then and the rights of women now are not so very far apart from each other when it comes to domestic violence and the collision of unwanted advances from men. Barden writ inside the passages following the attack a wholesome truth of the inner workings of a woman attempting to balance her reality of the incident against the reality of her place in court. Her life was a fragile balance of obligation, duty, and expected service to her Queen.

As we are gaining insight into her strength of character, we are seeing further into her courage as she decides to carry-on and forge ahead as though nothing sinister had occurred at all; as who is there to confide in when women are always viewed as being the harbingers of their own fate?

Emme is a woman who has vision outside the plight of her own circumstances, and on the confidence of the Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I, (Sir Francis Walsingham) she endeavours to change her stars by her own conviction and merit of industry by joining the voyage back to the New World. She knows her future is blighted at best if she stays behind to face the uncivilous rumours head-on, but to jump aboard ship and sail to Virginia? To help forge a colony in the Chesapeake that is stronger and sturdier than that of Roanoke?! I must confess, as her mind danced with images of fanciful new dreams and possibilities, I was alongside her rallying hope and encouragement for what this new beginning would mean to her well-being.

Besmirched with the tides of fate, Emme and Kit, the man entrusted to keep her safe aboard ship each have their own personal reasons for sailing for presumed sanctity in Virginia. As I had the pleasure of seeing Belle on the silver screen for my birthday this year, (a mere week ago) I could settle in my mind the joy of seeing a father acknowledge his child; a child of biracial origins and one he most earnestly loved. Reading the passages where Kit was attempting to explain to his brother the true reason he wanted to pursue a new life abroad warmed my heart, as foresaid Belle was only recently seen and has already stitched itself into my most beloved motion pictures of recent years; akin to Amazing Grace! I also appreciated the character of Manteo who is a Native amongst the Britons travelling to and fro the New World. He was given full respect for his person and I liked his ease in conversing with Emme, as he did not see her as others might and she was in full appreciation for the reprieve.

As their journey led them to the New World, so too did their adventure lead them to a rebirth of living with the full grace of freedom transformed. I appreciated the hearty realism stitched into life on ship as much as the curious details woven into the days in which they were ashore in Roanoke. Barden took a fissure of disjointed and fragmented history, and pulled together a pliable accountment of what ‘could have been’ but of which will quite surely ‘never truly be known’ of the ill-fated attempt to colonise Virginia at that point in time. I must commend her for her vision, as this particular slice of history always fascinated me in school, always thirsty for new details or curious scenarios of possibilities, and in reading The Lost Duchess, I find myself bemuseful of how this story could very well have a stock in reality.

The only bits that I found a bit disconcerning at times were the visual nature of some of the scenes, yet I did not attach a ‘fly in the ointment’ to this post because quite frankly they were very few and far between. They only entered a scene when needed to express the seriousness of an attack; especially a fatal one where someone was brutally murdered by Natives in Roanoke where the colonists were attempting to take residence. I flitted over the passages because within the whole of the book, my heart was enraptured with the evolving story between Emme and Kit, who are the heroes of the tale!

The wordsmith stylings of Barden’s narrative was rapturously exaulted:

I am forevermore blessed to have stumbled across such wonderful wordsmiths who enlighten our minds with words of which are not commonly used nor known in today’s literature. Even those words which would be harkened back to an age of the historical page in which the story entreats our imaginations to venture, not every author is able to knit the ties of that era in such a way as to unite a clarity of speech. I am always in a celebratory mood when I find a writer whose pen inks out a frothy amount of phrase, word, and era specific mentionings as to help alight us in the setting in which the story takes place. I feared not the moment I opened this particular novel, as between the Chapter Heading Quotation disclosures of passages taken from historical documents (I presume?) to engage our eye in the real characters behind the fictional story, to the benefit of the words in which grace the pages, my mind was lit afire with a truism of the Elizabethan Court!

She takes you inside this unknown world with such a propensity for details and enriched voices of the past, that you feel as though you are stepping directly into Emme’s shoes, casting footfalls where she alights in Richmond Palace as much as the shores of the New World. I found myself eating the words and pages as readily as my eyes were able to absorb their murmurings, because I had found another new author of whose story was soaking into my heart and that swelled a sea of thankfulness inside my heart! And, prompted a most curious thought as to seek out Mistress of the Sea!

A note on behalf of Ebury Press sustainability conscience:

On the reverse cover of The Lost Duchess, I was happily struck by the presence of the FSC recognisble label! I had mentioned their conservation efforts to source paper without hurting old growth forests on a previous post, as I am attempting to make a reference note of each book I read henceforth forward that has a mention inside its sleeves for stewardship and sustainable printing practices. More and more publishers (from major trade to independent press) are striving towards finding greener ways to print books and thereby, proving the point that those of us who can only read books in print can effectively read greener! A bit like how each of us who purchases second-hand books is taking a step towards the unnecessity of successive printings of the same novel. I applaud Ebury Press and Random House Group, Ltd. for being part of the forebearers of change and for giving all readers everywhere something to chew on about how reading green does not have to be electronically originated.

They mention briefly about their green-minded practices on their FAQ page, but go into greater detail on their page dedicated to how they acquire the paper for the books they bind into print editions. The best bit for me is seeing their green practices go a bit past paper production and more towards the whole concept of being a green publisher using green resources!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comThis Book Review is courtesy of:

The Lost Duchess Virtual Book Tour with HFVBT

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comas I am happily honoured to be a blog tour hostess for:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTPlease visit my Bookish Events page to stay in the know for upcoming events!

Reader Interactive Question:

I am curious, what are your impressions of the ill-fated colony of Roanoke!? Have you sought out previous stories set amidst the rumours of unknown truths!? What do you think is plausible to explain the fact they were never found and that the search continues to today for their ancestors!? There is a lovely ‘Author’s Note’ in the back of “The Lost Duchess” which goes into a bit of detail to explain not only the author’s take on the history but how history is continuing being penned as the research continues to seek out the truth of what happened to the colony. I was grateful the passages were included as they tethered all the pieces together in both fiction and reality.

{SOURCES: Book covers for “The Lost Duchess” & “Mistress of the Sea”, Author Biography, Book Synopsis, and blog tour badges  were provided by HFVBT – Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Author Interview badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Friday, 20 June, 2014 by jorielov in 16th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Adulterous Affair, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Domestic Violence, Elizabethan Era, England, Green-Minded Publishers, High Seas Epic, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Modern British Literature, Native American Fiction, Nautical Fiction, Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Francis Walsingham, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sustainability Practices inside the Publishing Industry, Sustainable Forest Certification, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Tudor Era, Virginia, Women of Power & Rule, Women's Rights, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage