Category: Historical Fiction

Blog Book Tour | Double-Showcase: Reading my next installment of the lovely imprint #PureRomance (by Cedar Fort) and feat. an interview with Julie Matern!

Posted Saturday, 28 July, 2018 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I have been hosting blog tours with Cedar Fort Publishing and Media for several years now, wherein their new blog tour publicist (Ms Sydney Anderson) also runs her own publicity touring company: Singing Librarian Book Tours (or SLB Tours for short!). I happily joined her team of book bloggers as a hostess in late Spring, 2018 wherein my first tours with her as a hostess begin Summer, 2018. I appreciate reading INSPY literature and was happy to find these are most of the stories she is showcasing through SLB Tours! Most of her authors are published through Cedar Fort, though she does work with authors who are either Self-Published or Indie published through different publishers as well.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Secret of Haversham House” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Publishing & Media) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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To find out why I love Sweet Romances and the #PureRomance imprint you might like to check out my previous postings for Cedar Fort blog tours, wherein I related my love of Historical & INSPY stories on a previous blog tour featuring To Suit a Suitor, however, I have happily been reading the offerings of this particular imprint for quite a long while now. The stories which still stand out are as follows: ‘Willow Springs’, ‘The Darkest Summer’, ‘Unexpected Love (anthology)’ and ‘The Second Season’.

To follow through my readings, be sure to scroll through this tag Pure Romance!

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A conversation with Julie Matern: Part I

What first drew your eye into Regencies and what were your favourite memories of reading your first Regency Romances? What attached yourself into them: the era, the lifestyle difference (upstairs/downstairs), the fashions or the historical backdrop and aesthetics?

Matern responds: I didn’t get into Jane Austen until after college – I was taking a French degree which required reading French Literature and there wasn’t time for much else. Quite honestly my connection to Austen’s books came as quite a surprise as I had been required to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronté at school when I was quite young and did not like it at all.

I decided then that those ‘old’ books were not for me. So when I chanced to read Pride and Prejudice as an adult I was amazed at how much I loved it almost immediately.  I enjoyed Jane’s voice and her characters and the era itself – so polite and civilized. I found I couldn’t put the books down. I think they swept me back in time. Then television and movie studios began making the adaptations with the beautiful scenery and costumes and I was totally hooked. I have three daughters and I have converted two of them! (PS I love Jane Eyre now too!)

I believe our reading lives have their Seasons,… I struggled to get into both Bronté and Austen when I was younger – though why I hesitated to read either of them, is lost to time itself. I started to focus on reading ‘Pride’ when Keira Knightley’s film was released (finishing it in time to see it live at the theater!) whilst my reading progress into ‘Jane Eyre’ has taken nearly the full five years I’ve been a book blogger! I haven’t a clue as to why either, except I find myself distracted from the text more times than naught and this year, I’m determined to conclude my ruminative thoughts as I would very much like to read a sequel author’s trilogy! Wish me well!

Strangely, despite the hiccups I incurred with these authors, I was into Classical Children’s Lit throughout my younger years as well as Contemporary favourites like Carolyn Keene (of whom I hadn’t realised to much later was a pen name!) and the other authors I’ve listed on my Children’s Lit page! The way you’ve described why you love reading these stories is something I can relate to myself ‘being swept into the historic past’, ‘the authenticity of Austen’s voice’ and the ways in which the manners of her time were eloquently brought forward into her stories. You’ve summarised it rather lovely!

It is an interesting premise, to have a girl raised in the ton (aristocracy) who didn’t realise her lot was not officially cast in those circles – what inspired this choice of entry into her shift of acceptance from her peers?

Matern responds: Well, heritage is so very important to the nobility at this time. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is probably the best example of this attitude in Austen’s writing. She is horrified that Elizabeth isn’t enough of a lady for her nephew. In Persuasion, Anne is discouraged from marrying Captain Wentworth because he ranks beneath her and in Emma, the thought that Harriet might marry Mr. Knightley makes Emma ill.

I thought it would be an interesting study to examine the possible reaction of this class of people to someone they knew and loved as a lady, under the new information that she was actually not. Then the question was how can this be accomplished and a secret adoption seemed a natural vehicle.

I love how you’ve found an interconnection between the plottings of Ms Austen’s novels – of how birth origins and your status in society meant everything towards a well-matched marriage than the person’s character; second only to reputation, as this was equally a concern of the aristocracy! It is a bit how I was happily surprised Adoption is now an option for Royals where previously it was not allowed. A secreted adoption I believe is the only way it could have worked within the framework of the Haversham’s case due to the nature of how constricted they were by both society and family alike. Blessedly not due to their own beliefs, thoughts and convictions!

Self-identity is oft-times linked to our ancestral heritage – did your interest in ancestry play a key role in exploring Francesca’s soul-search for her own identifiable truth? How did you want to show who you are and who you believe you are are oft-times not the same person?

Matern responds: I have researched my own genealogical lines for over 40 years. I find it absolutely fascinating. There are hidden secrets in many people’s lines; my grandmother thought she was a year younger than she was; people lied to their fiances about their age so that they didn’t seem too much older than them and it is discovered by researchers like me generations later when we notice the discrepancy between the birth certificate and the marriage certificate; I know of someone who did not know she was born before her parents married, until after her parents died and she examined all the certificates. The truth can shake people to their foundations. Any revelation that changes what you have believed to be true about yourself creates a need to know everything, I believe. Ancestry.com is using this common need in their advertising to create interest in their DNA testing – people who find out that they have ethnicity in their family tree that they did not know about, for example, often begin a study of that ethnicity to understand it in an attempt to understand themselves better.

Adoption is not something I have direct experience of and in our day and age it is very open. In writing about Francesca’s emotions I tried to put myself in her shoes and imagine receiving the news that my  mother was not my birth mother. It would spark an avalanche of emotions and confusion and a desire to seek out my birth relatives.

I do believe that ancestral heritage affects how we see ourselves and anchors us to our past, endowing us with a sense of connection to them and helping us have stronger self-esteem. My great-uncle died when he was 19 in WWI in France and my own grandfather almost died in the same war. Their sacrifice helps me feel that my family helped in the cause of freedom. My husband’s side has many pioneers who did extraordinary things under extremely difficult circumstances and it is very important to me that my children know about those on my side who fought and those on my husband’s side who sacrificed so much to connect them with these great heroic acts.

I’ve been blessed by having a Mum whose research into our own ancestral lines began 40+ years ago whereas my own journey as an #AncestrySleuth began roughly 10 years ago where we started to combine our efforts! It even led to a ‘match’ of finding living cousins in Sweden, of whom we thankfully had the chance to meet in Autumn 2017! We personally love the archives and the resources attached to FamilySearch.org as the services they provide are blessedly ‘free’ and all the information on Ancestry.com (which is a paid service) is available for ‘free’ as well as they share their databases. Towards that end, I even participated in a records updating weekend once which proved how tedious it is to update records and how thankful all of us are for the hours dedicated volunteers world-wide are giving to these records/databases to help us all interconnect with lost relatives and ancestral heritage (both living and dead).

Yes, and no. You’d be surprised — I knew in my early twenties I wanted to adopt my future children and despite being comfortable on my path, whenever I go to talk about how I intend to have children (through adoption) you’d be properly surprised how much negatively people project on you and how dedicated they are to tell you the choice you’ve made (for your own life, mind you!) is the wrong one! I never would have thought of all the topics and subjects the general public would feel the right to debate with you, the path you take towards mumhood would be one they would feel most inclined to argue!

Therefore, in many ways, I still see us a bit behind the times when it comes to Adoption – this is why there are many campaigns to re-think how people see adoption and how adoption is still not the option most families are willing to make to either expand or start their families. I wish it were different but the facts do not lie. We’re as closed-minded to adoption now as we were in the Regency in so many ways and that is something I hope will change within my lifetime.

I truly believe as you do – a healthier way forward is to know our past, to examine it, draw strength from it and to continue to ‘tell the living histories’ of our families if only to keep the voices of the past alive, present and acknowledged! I grew up with these kinds of stories myself and they re-etch an impression about yourself, your family and the legacies we all leave behind – some in larger ways than others but all of us have stories to share, tell and honour.

How did you decide on the surname Haversham? It is a rather unique choice and I was wondering if there might be a story behind it? Also, what is your process for selecting the names of your characters overall?

Matern responds: My husband, who is not English by birth, loves these types of quintessential English surnames and is often popping them into conversations. Haversham, Flaversham, Faversham. So it was a nod to him.

Choosing a name for a character is a bit like choosing a name for a baby – I want it to fit. Her name had to be Francesca because of the Italian-French connection so then I wanted a very English surname to pair it with. Then I say my character’s  full names out loud to make sure they have a good ring to them.

I always want to use very traditional names as the first names of my characters. (Langley is not very traditional but is a name of an ancestor of mine so I felt I could use it.) Then I use google to search English surnames that have several syllables (these seem more regal to me) or I look through my family tree for the perfect name. Septimus Sladden is an actual ancestor of mine. The minute I found him I knew I was going to use that name in a book.

Charles Dickens was so very clever with his name choices and JK Rowling too, as often the name tells us about the character. I hope to be able to imitate that in the future.

OOh, I am so glad you’ve mentioned this!! As this is part of my own process for selecting names for my own characters! I even have a lovely Baby Name Book which is multi-ethnic and pulls names from various ethnic backgrounds world-wide as well as various spellings therein! I can go off in small tangents of research just to dig up the Etymology of the names I’ve chosen to see if perhaps, I was choosing the right ‘name’ so to speak at any given time! Much like I would if it were naming a child of mine, to see if I honed in on their personality and the potential they would have in life to fill the shoes behind the name.

I thought your idea of combining the Italian name for ‘French’ as a nod to both Francesca’s Italian heritage but French set Adoption was a stroke of brilliance!

I shall readily admit – when it comes to old English names, I am as addicted to them as your husband! This is one reason I am thankful I’m personally British three times to Sunday! The names and titles alone in my ancestral lines are lushly addictive to research!

Yes! Isn’t it interesting how the names of our ancestors take us by shocked surprise? I have many revelations like this on my own family tree – but also, of whom they were, where they were bourne and where they ended their lives as they moved round quite frequently!

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Blog Book Tour | Double-Showcase: Reading my next installment of the lovely imprint #PureRomance (by Cedar Fort) and feat. an interview with Julie Matern!The Secret of Haversham House
by Julie Matern
Source: Direct from publisher via SLB Tours

Eighteen-year-old Francesca Haversham is privileged, beautiful, and naive. Lineage, titles, and wealth are the ultimate virtues among nineteenth-century English aristocracy, and Francesca is elite society's newest and most celebrated debutante from one of England's most illustrious families. Her pedigree is impeccable - or is it?

Her coming-out ball brings iwth it the appearance of one Mr. Langley Ashbourne, and Francesca is immediately taken in by his handsome features and flattering words. But not everything is as it seems, and flowery comments can only hide dark truths for so long. Meanwhile, a long-buried secret creeps ever closer to the light, one that would destroy her comfortable life, tarnish her family's character, and ruin all hopes of a reputable marriage.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781462122073

Also in this series: Willow Springs, Sophia, The Second Season, To Suit a Suitor, Mischief & Manors, Unexpected Love, Lies & Letters, The Darkest Summer


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Sweet Romance


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 12th June, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 231

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

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

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Converse via: #Regency or #RegencyRomance, #HistFic or #HistoricalRomance

#INSPYRom, #SweetRomance OR #HistRom; #Adoption

→ #SecretOfHavershamHouse

About Julie Matern

Julie Matern

Julie Matern is a resident of Utah. She attended the University of Exeter in Exeter, England, and graduated with a double major in French and Education. She was born and raised in England, moving to America after her marriage and is the mother of six children.

She has served in the PTA for over 20 years, taught tap dance, and enjoys amateur photography. She is the author of ‘British War Children’ (for which she received a “Recommended Read” award from the League of Utah Writers) and ‘British War Children 2: An Enemy Among Us’.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 28 July, 2018 by jorielov in Adoption, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Coming-Of Age, Debut Author, Debut Novel, England, France, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Italy, Life Shift, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Singing Librarian Book Tours, Sweet Romance, the Regency era, Women's Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “Trial at Mount Koya” (Book No.6 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann A beautifully atmospheric #HistoricalMystery atop a sacred mountain during a harrowing blizzard lends a suspenseful backdrop to evolving drama!

Posted Friday, 13 July, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

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 asked to join the blog tour for ‘Trial at Mount Koya’ as last Summer, I was meant to participate on the tour for IGA before it was cancelled. I love celebrating this series, as despite the fact I originally received both CLAWS & BLADE on a blog tour, I am never certain which story I tip my hat to read is going to become a ‘beloved series’ of mine. Each story which touches my heart is truly a special discovery as I am quite particular about what I read and the kind the stories I hold quite dear.

This Spring, when I received the book in the post, one thing happily surprised me! I was quoted on the Press Release for the first time in relation to my prior readings of the series itself! Talk about a moment where your brilliantly gobsmacked to see your quote and the words you used to fuse your thoughts to your blog in reference to how reading about Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori resonates with you directly! I was both humbled and excited knowing my words are reaching others as this lovely novel takes flight into the world and into new reader’s hearts!

I received a complimentary copy of “Trial at Mount Koya” 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. Whilst I am participating on the blog tour hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours of which I am an avid hostess as Historical Fiction and the eclectic route I take through the subgenres therein is a blissitude of its own!

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Why I personally love *devouring!* the Hiro Hattori Novels:

Series Overview: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo investigate crime in medieval Japan, from the palaces of the samurai to the colorful world of Kyoto’s theater district—and beyond. The series weaves fictional plotlines through one of the most exciting—and dangerous—times in Japanese history.

Ms Spann has created a series for the historical reader at heart! A bit of a backstory about my ardent admiration for this portal into 16th Century Japan:

I still marvel at how I came to know of the series through the second release Blade of the Samurai whilst being blessed to have read the series from the beginning in Claws of the Cat. Each step along the way my heart has felt pulled into the drama and the suspense behind how the friendship Father Mateo and Hiro Hattori have shaped their lives – there is a lot going on in the series, from a historical perspective and from the world’s point of view of where Ms Spann has alighted us into her lovely 16th Century world. Her world-building is what makes this such a keen series to feel a part of as you nearly take for granted it’s not the 16th Century each time you place yourself in step with her characters!

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On where we left Father Mateo & Hiro Hattori:

I loved seeing Father Mateo react to Hiro’s relatives – from his grandmother to his mother to his cousin – each in turn showed a different side to Hiro but they also revealled a bit about themselves. Such as when the priest realised he was amongst those who are emotionally removed from the crime committed here because they themselves are trained for such crimes as shinboi. They have such a different life compared to the kind of life a priest would accept or understand; something he finds difficult to process time to time such as now. As he gathers information about certain aspects of what transpired he is put into uncomfortable positions to overhear things which do shock him a bit to learn.

Finding Hiro’s grandmother Akiko had taken in an orphaned girl and named her Tane was an interesting twist to the main plot. Especially as Ms Spann showed how the girl could only communicate through Sigh Language – as it spoke to homegrown signs the girl devised herself and used to speak on her behalf to to the family she lost. It also pointed to the fact, those who are hard of hearing or are unable to speak were not limited to only occupying later centuries but were alive during previous generations as well. It was interesting to hear the reasons why these persons were kept from records and observations in regards to populations. Sadly this is still being practiced today – of removing marginalised persons from historical records in an ill-attempt to have them erased from our memory.

Poisons are a tricky beast – they are effectively one of my favourite devices used in mysteries because of how diverse the choice of poisons are to be found irregardless of the century a story is told. In this one, what was interesting is the layers – of how one crime led to another (a near miss) and how if you looked at these from a distance, there was a layering of how someone wished harm to some but not to others; as if there was a message being carried out in the delivery of the crimes.

This is how Ms Spann holds my attention – she makes me endeavour to sleuth a bit ahead of her characters – daring me to seek out the hidden threads of how everything connects giving me an intellectually robust mystery I readily find enjoyment in engaging inside. I love seeing how her mind ferrets out her secondary story-lines – of how all the pieces of each character’s tapestry is finely orchestrated to be revealled bit by bit and even then, there are surprises for us – either in their character’s heart or the will of how their perspective might change as they live through different experiences.

She holds a particular attention towards detailed continuity and of evoking an enlarged sense of the wider world in which feudal Japan existed; of how all the branches of individual lives were being affected by the rise of power and of the augmentation of shifting tides of alliances therein. There is a hefty potboiler of dramatic revelation and exploration of what makes a country tick from the inside out whilst not to be overshadowed by the pursuit of a humbled priest who takes his personal mission deeply seriously as his soul’s intended journey for this life he’s led. As we weave in and out of the series, we see the landscape of Japan shifting, of how lives are being affected by the shogun currently in reign and of how even the shinobi themselves were not immune to the growing changes within their world.

-quoted from my review of Betrayal at Iga

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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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Blog Book Tour | “Trial at Mount Koya” (Book No.6 Hiro Hattori novels) by Susan Spann A beautifully atmospheric #HistoricalMystery atop a sacred mountain during a harrowing blizzard lends a suspenseful backdrop to evolving drama!Trial on Mount Koya
Subtitle: A Hiro Hattori Novel : A Shinobi Mystery
by Susan Spann
Source: Direct from Publisher

Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo head up to Mount Koya, only to find themselves embroiled in yet another mystery, this time in a Shingon Buddhist temple atop one of Japan’s most sacred peaks.

November, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple at the summit of Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple’s priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife–the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests–including Father Mateo–become unwilling members of the killer’s grisly council of the dead.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633884151

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), The Ninja's Daughter, 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, The Ninja's Daughter, Betrayal at Iga, (Interview) Trial on Mount Koya


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 3rd July, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 256

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Ms Susan Spann

Susan Spann

Susan Spann is the award-winning author of the Hiro Hattori mystery novels, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo.

Susan began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest.

Susan is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year, a former president of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (National and Sacramento chapters), the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is represented by literary agent Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.

When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, photography, and hiking. She lives in Sacramento with her husband and two cats, and travels to Japan on a regular basis.

In 2018, whilst under contract with Prometheus Books, Ms Spann is travelling throughout Japan to climb the #100Summits. She blogs her mountaineering adventures, shares her photography on both Instagram and Twitter and is writing the book which will debut in 2020 under the tentative title: 100 Summits.

Converse via: #HiroHattoriNovels + #HistoricalMystery or #HistMyst

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 13 July, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 16th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Equality In Literature, Feudal Japan History, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, History, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity