Category: Amateur Detective

Musing Mondays #2: Walking back through the door of my imagination!

Posted Monday, 28 October, 2013 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 3 Comments

Musing Mondays is hosted by Should Be Reading

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

| 28th October, 2013 |

Rather than a proposed question, this Monday the Musings reverts back to:

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

Today, I am simply thankful to be back ‘on JLAS’, picking up where I left off with my book reviews, and setting up for a wicked month-long post extravaganza (Sci-Fi November!)! I recently finished two books, which I reviewed post-haste: “The Study of Murder” by Susan McDuffie and “Virtual Blue” by R.J. Sullivan! I was honoured that I had the opportunity to read each of these novels, and for me, it was a departure from my preference for reading serial fiction in ‘order’ of either publication OR of the world the story is set inside. There are times where I feel you can be given a proper introduction to the characters and flow of the overall story, to where starting with a series in-progress might suit you as well as if you had started at the beginning! This also helps when you find authors who know how to spin the continuity of their series in such a brilliantly giving way (of which McDuffie and Sullivan excel!) to where you feel as though ‘you had read the previous installments!’ I appreciate too, that each book took me away from my zone of comfort when it comes to reading, as I explored the fascinating world of the 14th Century through the eyes of a reluctant amateur detective in ‘The Study of Murder’, whereas I left our shared reality for the world beyond which is housed within the virtual whilst digging into ‘Virtual Blue’!

There was a nibbling in the back of mind about the first book, something that I had forgotten to mention in my review, which is that Mariota used Caledula flowers as part of one of her tinctures, and that is the very ingredient inside my new toothpaste that is giving me the most relief! I thought it was clever how I had only just discovered Weleda’s Caledula Toothpaste! Small world! I have always loved learning more about natural medicines and herbal remedies, which is why this part of the story perked my interest in such a hearty way!

Whereas with ‘Virtual Blue’, I felt compelled to continue reading a story that was in full effect a bit of a language barrier (bless the author for summarising it!) for me, as he interwove such a courageous story, full of heart, raw pure gumption and a determined spunky spirit of which is the essence of ‘Blue!’ I was quite caught up in the particulars of the gaming world as much as the balance between good vs. evil, which is such a classic story arc to explore, but was given such a fine tune approach that it rendered a whole new world where your tested for what you are willing to understand!

I am moving next into “Redheart” by Jackie Gamber and “Illuminations” by Mary Sharratt, both of which I have been eagerly looking forward to reading and reviewing! I had hoped to review them far ahead of my post deadlines, but as I had outlined previously life in the bookish blogosphere doesn’t always go as we plan it to go! ‘Redheart’ is an epic fantasy world that envelopes around dragons, whereas ‘Illuminations’ dips into the living history of a saintly nun who changed the perception of the world at large by the knowledge she was bestowed and given to share! The latter is a biographical fiction set against the living legacies that were past down about Hildegard von Bingen, which I find fascinating! I am curiously drawn towards reading more and more biographical fiction accountments due to the hearty nature of the context as much as the drinkablity of the narrative!

In-between reading the books for review, I am settling into “Finnikin of the Rock” by Melina Marchetta, as I completely missed the key dates I was meant to post my reactions to the book as I read it, as well as the follow-up sequences speaking about “Community” and “Family” as it directly applied to the characters! Whilst I was living through personal affairs that took my time and attention away, I fear that this lovely event was on-going and brilliantly executed! I will be adding my reactions as I read through the chapters, adding my commentaries and visiting the collaborative reading experience post-event!

I am revising my posting schedule for SFN, due to a few quirks of not being able to source a few of the materials I needed, but I am not letting it deter my enthused joy for the event itself, because I am thankful to have had the opportunity to celebrate in the love of a genre that has been a mainstay throughout my life!

I was a bit disheartened that I had missed a few Booktalk Nation events whilst I was offblog, as I had hoped to have participated in the speaking tours of: Wally Lamb (We Are Water); Julia Quinn (The Sum of All Kisses); and Kristin Higgins (The Perfect Match). I wonder if any of my readers took part in these wicked sweet events!? I cannot speak more highly of Booktalk Nation, even though, I still owe a post about the last two authors I saw featured where were Laurie R. King and Robyn Carr! :) The one that I am hoping I am in line to participate in is Rachel Caine who will be speaking about her Morganville Vampire series which might sound out of context for me to engage in, and on one hand you would be keenly observant in that theory, however, I am always curious about books and authors that I hear about regularly through my circle of friends’. Her series is one that is spoken with affection, and despite my unease of wanting to enter into the world of vampires which has never quite been a good fit for me (outside of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’; certain seasons over others!), I am willing to expand my knowledge and enlighten my heart by listening to the author who penned the stories that has captured the imagination of my dear friends! :)

A bookish blogger can not receive a more humble note of gratitude (aside from an author’s reaction to one of her reviews!) than a full-on post about the merits of joy in discovering a bookish event that a reader can attend, of which they *discovered!* through her sidebar! I speak on behalf of Christine (of Readerly Musings) trekking to Boston for the *Boston Book Festival!* Due venture over and viscerally live through her eyes of this smashingly brilliant bookish event! And, if any of the bits of my sidebar prove helpful, I’d be honoured to hear of your stories of where my sidebar led you to take an adventure! Its my long-term goal to utilise the bookish events, historical landmarks, and book shoppes for my own literary adventures; hence why they are included on my blog! I was hopeful that whilst I await the day to venture off, another reader might find the information useful to them! In this way, I am humbled and honoured by Christine’s post! :)

OOh, and eek! I nearly forgot!! I received word that the novella “A Light in the Window” (the prequel to “The Daughters of Boston” series) by Julie Lessman is FINALLY going to be available in print!! I do not yet have word as to ‘when’, but ooh, did I merrily rejoice in hearing that nearly a year to the day I first learnt about the novella I am celebrating the news of its publication in print!! I have attempted to *win!* a spiral bound copy of it throughout the blog book tours Ms. Lessman has participated in from November 2012 – 2013, however, it was not meant to be! I always longed to read this particular prequel, because as my future review of this lovely series (I am thinking this will be early 2014!) will reveal to you dear hearts, this series has nestled right in the niche of my heart! Marcy and Patrick are the parents inside the story of the O’ Connors, of whom are the hinge-pins who hold the entire Irish family together! To find a story set aside to speak about how they first met and conjoined in marriage is a story that I have pined to read! Blessed is I to have learnt I am closer to this dream! The news was announced in a reply to a comment I left on ‘the Society’ where Ms. Lessman guest posted for a day!

*NOTE: The RSS feed blurb is in the lower portion of my sidebar for ‘the Society’!

At some point, I would like restore my rhythm and pick up where I left off with my dear blogs, of which I enjoy reading regularly, but of which I haven’t had the proper chance to drop by and hang out! The blogs in particular I am museful about today are: Southern Belle View, Word Wenches, the Society, OWG, and a newbie favourite Austen Authors! I hope to swing back once I get my forthcoming reviews into focus and I have a handle on the first week of SFN! All in good time! I am with them in spirit! :) I read more blogs than this regularly, of course, as I am choosing to focus on the group author blogs right now that strike my fancy!

I believe that is all the bookish news and musings I have to share with you, dear hearts! IF I have accidentally been remiss, I will simply follow-up this post on WWW Wednesday! Here is to celebrating bookish memes, the bookish blog community, and the joy of reading! Most especially after a short hiatus we were not expecting!

{SOURCE: Jorie Loves A Story badge created by Raaven with editing by Jorie in Fotoflexer.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

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Posted Monday, 28 October, 2013 by jorielov in 14th Century, Amateur Detective, Austen Authors, Book Festival, Bookish Whimsy, Booktalk Nation, Boston Book Festival, CFHS The Society, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy Fiction, Finnikin of the Rock, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, Museful Mondays, Naturopathy, OWG, Readerly Musings, Sci-Fi November, Science Fiction, Shelf Awareness, Southern Belle View Daily, The Word Wenches, Virtual Reality

*Review* The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie

Posted Sunday, 27 October, 2013 by jorielov , , , 7 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie
[Book Three in the Muirteach MacPhee mystery series]

The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie

[Book One: A Mass for the Dead]
[Book Two: The Fairie Hills]

Published By: Five Star Publishing, an imprint of Gale Group, September 2013
Page Count: 264
Available Formats: Softcover and E-Book

Blog Book Tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
was scheduled 16th of September – 25th of September 2013

Acquired Book By: Whilst following the said book tour for The Study of Murder, I had the honour of interacting with Ms. McDuffie on Unabridged Chick’s blog. That conversation moved off-blog, as I had a bit more to say about how lovely it was to find an author who was as dedicated to research as she happens to be! The author contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing her book. I received a complimentary copy of The Study of Murder direct from the author herself [Susan McDuffie] in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

What implored me to read The Study of Murder: I was originally intrigued with the title itself, as I was looking over the upcoming book tours on the HFVBT website, and I thought to myself, “This one sounds interesting!”. Yet, I wasn’t sure if it fell under ‘cosy’ or ‘hard-boiled’ which is why I hesitated to find a copy through my local library! Laughs. Mostly as I tend to read more mysteries on the cosy side of the ledger, being that I have a sensitive heart! When the review posted on Unabridged Chick I started to see the story as a whole, and realised that I not only could read the book, but that I might find myself curiously entranced by the setting by which the story takes place!! There was a direct line of interest for me, as I have become an appreciator of the “Inspector Morse” and “Inspector Lewis” mysteries from the BBC! I borrowed the first two seasons of Morse, before realising that the harder hitting story-lines were a bit too unsettling for me at the time I was watching them! (Spring 2012) Which is why I decided to seek out Lewis instead, as I had a feeling his spin-off series might be a bit lighter or at the very least, easier to watch! I was quite chuffed to find that I was right! 

I had mentioned my knowledge of Morse and Lewis whilst interacting on Unabridged Chick‘s blog as I had a bit of a footing of the historical aspects of Oxford, simply based on the observations I had made whilst watching the series! There is such a large presence of historical artifacts as far as structures and buildings are concerned, that you can get a good sense of the depth of history and of time, that Oxford can afford! I was also encouraged by this review to read The Study of Murder because it’s not quite as hard-boiled as I had feared!

All of this combined with the fact the central character is of Scottish decent implored me to find out more about this lovely three book series and the author who penned it! The way in which I concluded my thoughts on Unabridged Chick‘s blog were as follows:

Prior to seeing the series, I always mistook Oxford for a quaint University towne, where scholarly pursuits were the center-focus! However, it’s also a hub for the arts, theatre, and has a youthful vibe set against the backdrop of a rather ancient site of University grounds! There is history leaping out off the screen, and inside the suspense of the story-lines, I always get a proper sense that ‘there is something more’ ‘something left unsaid’ that is just awaiting my discovery! I love old architecture and places like Oxford, who have an enriched history that is still viable and visible!

Combined with all of this I said tonight + the other day, you can see why I was properly fascinated by “The Study of Murder”!!! I completely concur with you, the characters that stay a bit in your mind’s eye and heart, are the ones who have broached into that special remembrance place all readers aspire to keep their most beloved reads!

Susan McDuffie

Author Biography:

Susan McDuffie has been a devotee of historical fiction since her childhood, when she believed she had been born in the wrong century.  She now writes historical mysteries set in medieval Scotland.  The Muirteach MacPhee Mysteries include A MASS FOR THE DEAD (2006), THE FAERIE HILLS (2011–  Winner of NM Book Award “Best Historical Novel” 2011) and THE STUDY OF MURDER (September 2013). Additional information can be found at www.SusanMcDuffie.net  or facebook.com/SusanMcDuffieAuthor.

Setting into a Muirteach MacPhee mystery:

One of the gifts of having an author whose passion for research is clearly evident from the first moment you pick up their novel to the very last page your fingers touch as you watch the story resolve at its conclusion, is that your mind never falters out of the timescape by which the story is set! You’re instantly intrigued by the uniqueness of the era by which the story is unfolding inside, due to the distance between the 1300’s and the 2000’s! It’s not as though we have a semblance of a working knowledge of what life led ‘then’ would involve as compared to how we might be acquainted through living (family) histories with the 1800’s and 1900’s!

The author provides a brilliant resources page to help readers sort through the Gaelic pronunciations! Although, I have learnt how to properly say “Muirteach”, I must confess, part of what I love about reading is how I attach certain ‘endearing names’ to the characters that I discover whilst I walk through stories!

Your introduction to Oxford comes through a travelogue of notations as a young son of the Lord of the Isles is sent to Oxford to study, and I would presume, to gain a breath of the world to enlighten his path towards maturity! You’re with the MacPhee’s as they first enter Oxford, and whilst they start to settle into village life. Including becoming regulars at the alehouse, booksellers, market, and other little odd nooks around the village that bespoke to life during that time! I was mirroring my dismay with Mariota (Muirteach’s wife) at how close-minded and cold-hearted the institutions of school were towards women. Although, I have oft known of this particular issue in the folds of history, as it creeps into view whilst I read certain stories set during certain times in our histories.

One of the opening revelations that spoke to my sense of suspense and curiosity are of the parchments that young Donald was given to use for his schoolwork!? I was fascinated by how you were never quite certain where the parchments had come from originally OR even what their direct purpose was prior to being in your possession! I was quite curious how the drawings were attached to the mystery, or if in effect, they were a secondary branch of mystery!

I like that Muirteach’s wife, Mariota is painted as a formidable and independent woman! She has a strong head on her shoulders, and she’s determined to follow her will without being told what she aims to do is impossible or ill received for the time she is living! I always latch on to strong women in stories, because they give us such a hearty glimpse of the strength it takes to pursue your dreams and to be able to push through an obstacles that might arise in your life as you walk towards your destiny.

Transportation is limited in this part of Oxford, as most of it is by foot! Being that I have advanced my stamina in recent years to walking a handful of miles whilst enjoying the natural world, I can attest, that walking has its wellness attributes! Yet, I am not sure if I could get used to always having to walk to reach each destination that is needed to be visited! I think that takes more energy than I have stored to have within me! In this way, I noticed that the pace of life is set differently than our time of day now. Being a University towne, everything of course, runs in counterpart to the lectures and the lives of the students, which I discerned is not always acceptable to the townesfolk who live there. Much in the same way I think modern University townes get a bit of a bad reputation, as the ‘hobby of the hour’ is drinking ale or wine to the brink of being drunk!

The manner is which Muirteach deduces his investigations is quite unlike another I have come across since, because he has such a quiet manner about him! He calmly asks questions and investigates in a way that is befit a man who enjoys the duties of detecting but perhaps, does not fully want to explore detection. He stumbles a bit in finding the connections, but given the people he has to interact with, I do not find them to be easily questioned due to their preference for hostility.

I like the interactions he has with his wife, because it shows a marriage of equality at a time when men had more ruling over women. I like finding distinctive differences to the norm in literature, as it begs the question that despite the society norms, you will always have a few who adhere to a rhythm that extends outside society’s reach. In this way, we always shift forward and away from the darker days without liberties and move into a time of equal pursuits and stations. I think I would enjoy getting to know Mariota a bit more in the previous stories, as I was appreciative of her knowledge of natural medicine and tinctures!

These mysteries unfold gently, (which endears them to cosy) yet they provide you with a gritty sense of reality once the murders and/or violence start to unfold, (this would be the slightly bent towards hard-boiled bits) in such a way that it’s possible to read them if you enjoy either branch of mystery! For me, I was thankful the death scenes were not too elaborate and that the heart of the story was consumed by the investigation rather than the macabre of the deaths.

Review of The Study of Murder:

The story opens benignly enough with the quest to partake of life in Oxford, to seek the education of the Lord’s son, by which Muirteach MacPhee and his wife, Mariota were entrusted to achieve. I realised it could not stay this uncomplicated, but what I appreciated in the telling of the unfolding story, is the historical details that differentiate the classes and casts. As much as the inability of women to study at their choosing the subjects and topics that interest them, merely due to the inability to have the right to study such as they gained in generations past the 14th Century; in the mid to late 1800’s from what I can gather. I found it curious how industrious Mariota MacPhee became in this installment of the Muirteach MacPhee mysteries, to not only succeed at pursuing her studies but in having gained the insightful knowledge of natural medicine by being attune to her father’s work previously!

At first, it felt as though there was a simple matter of a missing girl, presumed dead that curtailed into the brutal murder of a Master at the University itself! This was followed by a second murder, which although presumed interconnected to the first murder, I was still curious how the disappearance of the first girl fit into the timeline! I started to sort out the meaning of the mysterious parchments, but what held my interest was an attempt to unearth the connecting dots that would place each of the events in line and construct the picture into a larger scope.

One thing that always struck me about living during the earlier centuries, is that oft-times the conditions of the townes were quite amuck of filth and sewage! I have always heard of the stories of Venice, Italy, being that the canal streets and close proximity of the waterways always prove to be a disadvantage in keeping the city clean: both in sight and smell. It did not surprise me in the least that Oxford, at this point in history, suffered under the same issues of Venice of today. Honestly, I do not know how one could handle the enormity of stench whilst walking down the streets! Especially as depicted if it were true that the townesfolk would simply dump out their sewage into the very streets themselves!

The mystery ended up being compounded by the delusions of a madman who felt compelled to a calling that only he was aware of existing. In this way, I nearly pitied the villain in the story, but only nearly, because what he did to secure his calling was outside the scope of God’s and Man’s Law of Order. I was still curious at the ending about the parchments, as if they were of an origin that was not yet known at the time or if they were simply not as important as I first thought they would be revealed as being!?

Thankful that I stumbled across this book on tour with HFVBT:

If I hadn’t started to seek out the books going on tour with HFVBT at the time in which I stumbled across this one, I might not have had the pleasure to interact with the author, Ms. McDuffie! I never would have suspected a conversation or a passion for research and writing would have led to my opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review! Therefore, I can only attest, that if you see a book going on tour that piques your interest, do follow the tour routes and leave messages for the authors’ and bloggers’ who are participating! You simply might find a new book to read, an author to engage in conversation, and perhaps, even, win one of the books that are given away! I celebrate the beauty of the bookish culture online, for it provides all of us a chance to interact with those who write the stories that interest us to discover!

IF you are familiar with the book tours HFVBT organises, I am most curious, which tours stand out in your mind as being amongst your favourites!? Did you get the chance to converse with one of the authors? Do you seek out books that are touring (on blogs) through all the lovely book tour companies!?

{SOURCES: Author biography, Book Cover, and Author photograph were given to me by the author herself, (Susan McDuffie) and are used with permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. }

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

Related Articles:

The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie – (unabridged-expression.blogspot.com)

Interview with Susan McDuffie – (unabridged-expression.blogspot.com)

Guest Post: Susan McDuffie’s The Study of Murder – (hf-connection.com)

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Posted Sunday, 27 October, 2013 by jorielov in 14th Century, Amateur Detective, Blog Book Tour Find, Book Review (non-blog tour), England, Indie Author, Late Middle Ages (1300-1500), Oxford

*Forthcoming Review* | The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie

Posted Tuesday, 8 October, 2013 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

The Study of Murder by Susan McDuffie
An exciting announcement to make today, here on Jorie Loves A Story, as I have a forthcoming review for The Study of Murder, 12th of October!! My review of this lovely book was made possible when my path crossed with the authors’ through her book tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours! Whereupon, I was responding to one of the reviews that had been given on the book’s behalf, and started to talk about my appreciation for Oxford, as seen through the BBC serial “Inspector Morse” and “Inspector Lewis”. Lo and behold to my delight I heard back from the author, as I was appreciative of her dedication to research on the novel itself, as that is one of the things that I am always fond of finding on behalf of the historical fiction novels that I read! I was offered to read this book in exchange for an honest review and I am most esteemed to be given that chance!
What first captivated my attention for this story, is the unique voice of the main character combined with the setting [in and around Oxford University in England], as much as the time of the story, as its the 14th Century, of the 1300s! Its not oft you discover a wholly true and realistic mystery set at such a precise time in our history, that has a way to captivate you to read it, due to the nature of how it was written! Although this is the third book in the series, I was captivated by the reviewer’s lament that this is a series which can be jumped into at book three, and give the reader plenty of insight to where going back to the beginning would nearly be savoured a bit more than if you had read them in order! Due to this, I decided to trust that observation, and will not be ILL’ing books one & two of the Muirteach MacPhee mysteries until after I complete “The Study of Murder”!!!
As you can read more about the story’s premise on the author’s website!

Official Site for Susan McDuffie

Official Facebook Page for Susan McDuffie

The Blog Book Tour via Historical Fiction Book Tours was held between16-25th of September, 2013!

Be sure to mark your calendars to drop back here on:
12th of October 2013!!
Be sure to loop back through the tour prior to reading my review!
Remember, to always keep a keen eye on my sidebar, for current & future Bookish Events Featured on JLAS! For a full listing of each book that has either been reviewed OR a stop via a tour on Jorie Loves A Story, please consult: Bookish Events Featured on JLAS!

{SOURCE: The author, Susan McDuffie provided me with the book cover and it is used with permission.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

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Posted Tuesday, 8 October, 2013 by jorielov in 14th Century, Amateur Detective, Blog Book Tour Find, Late Middle Ages (1300-1500), Oxford