Category: Martial Arts

Book Review | “The Jade Lioness” (Book Three of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 6 May, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Jade Lioness” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I am fascinated by this series:

You know almost immediately when you pick up a Courtenay Historical Rom, you’re going to be enchanted by what you find inside the page! She has a way of pulling you into the narrative quite quickly and endearing you to her characters; many of whom have emotional angst or something they need to prove to themselves. She also is one of my favourite historical authors for tying together loose ends, maintaining continuity or by giving us more information about secondary characters.

There were incredible layers of emotional angst percolating throughout the story but it’s how Courtenay made the keen choices to embrace those situations and to use them towards the gain for the reader to walk alongside her characters as they worked through everything together. It’s the strength of finding the courage to be oneself and to embrace differences even in one’s family to find the bridge to unite through forgiveness and patience. Truly this became an uplifting story to read due to how convincing the redemption was for Midori and the rest of her family.

And, of course, I especially was taken by the descriptive details which set this narrative to be illuminated by sweeping arcs of action sequences and the beauty of life on the high seas. I liked the nuances of Japanese culture and the way in which Courtenay infused Midori’s spiritual life into the backdrop of her character’s personality. Everything felt authentically realistic whilst anchouring the story between Japan and England. You could fully find yourself caught in the midst of the 17th Century where nothing was certain nor guaranteed to be right anytime soon. At the height of everything, blessedly there was still slivers of hope of how Midori would find not only true happiness but a passionate partner of whom accepted her unconditionally. A true honour of her upbringing and of finding her own way to unite her past with her present. Now it’s Temperance’s turn to take the spotlight in the series and I can’t wait to go back to Japan where the series began as she makes her mark on how her life is meant to play out.

-quoted from my review of The Gilded Fan

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

On my Connection to Ms. Courtenay:

Three years ago, on the 26th of April, 2014, I created #ChocLitSaturday a weekly Rom chat to celebrate the novelists of ChocLitUK but also, to expand to include book bloggers, readers and writers of Romance who have a penchant for the genre as a whole. Ms Courtenay started to become a regular fixture, and her encouraging conversations & ability to inspire others to converse freely throughout the chats put me at ease in my new role as a ‘Hostess’. She always seemed to know how to either start a topic or how to best suggest something to break the ice! I was always so very grateful to her and I am thinking I might have forgotten to tell her directly how much gratitude I had for her in those earlier chats! Over the years, I have found myself attached to each of my ‘regular’ chatters during the hour, and I consider Ms Courtenay a bookish like-minded soul and dear friend, as we tend to appreciate the same types of stories!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Courtenay through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #ChocLitSaturday the chat, kept in touch privately and having had previously read her time slip novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Book Review | “The Jade Lioness” (Book Three of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdaysThe Jade Lioness
by Christina Courtenay
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

Can an impossible love become possible?



Nagasaki, 1648

Temperance Marston longs to escape war-torn England and explore the exotic empire of Japan. When offered the chance to accompany her cousin and Captain Noordholt on a trading expedition to Nagasaki, she jumps at the opportunity. However, she soon finds the country’s strict laws for foreigners curtail her freedom.

On a dangerous and foolhardy venture she meets Kazuo, a ronin. Kazuo is fascinated by her blonde hair and blue eyes, but he has a mission to complete and he cannot be distracted. Long ago, his father was accused of a crime he didn’t commit – stealing a valuable ornament from the Shogun – and Kazuo must restore his family’s honour.

But when Temperance is kidnapped and sold as a concubine, he has to make a decision – can he save her and keep the promise he made to his father?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 978-1781892374

Also by this author: Guest Post about Time Slips, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Scarlet Kimono, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, Marry for Love, The Gilded Fan, The Secret Kiss of Darkness

Also in this series: The Scarlet Kimono, The Gilded Fan


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by ChocLitUK

on 19th March, 2016

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 320

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats:

Paperback, Audiobook, Large Print & E-Book

The Kumashiro series:

Book One: The Scarlet Kimono (see also Review)

Book Two: The Gilded Fan (see also Review)

Book Three: The Jade Lioness

Converse via: #KumashiroSeries + #HistRom or #ChocLit

About Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay

Christina lives near Hereford and is married with two children. Although born in England she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East.

Christina’s debut Trade Winds was short listed for the 2011 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction. The Scarlet Kimono won the 2011 Big Red Reads Best Historical Fiction Award. Highland Storms (in 2012) and The Gilded Fan (in 2014) won the Historical Romantic Novel of the Year Award and The Silent Touch of Shadows won the 2012 Best Historical Read Award from the Festival of Romance. Christina is Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Novels: Trade Winds, Highland Storms, Monsoon Mists, The Scarlet Kimono, The Gilded Fan, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, The Soft Whisper of Dreams, The Jade Lioness, Marry in Haste, Once Bitten Twice Shy, Desperate Remedies and Never Too Late.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
Divider

Posted Saturday, 6 May, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 17th Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Domestic Violence, East India Company, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Martial Arts, Modern British Literature, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multi-Generational Saga, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, World Religions

Book Review | “The Gilded Fan” (Book Two of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 29 April, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Gilded Fan” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I am fascinated by this series:

I was so consumed by the beautiful romance emitting out of this historical novel, I was swept into the folds of this story to such a degree, I did not want it to end! Hannah and Kumashiro are incredible characters to meet and it’s how their lives start to intersect that keep you up late into the night, as it’s not a book you wish to put down but one to devour, one chapter at a time whilst savouring the journey Courtenay has taken you on!

I appreciated the pacing of this novel – we were given such a lovely narrative in scope, to allow ourselves to curl inside the ‘moments’ with the characters rather than moving at such a clip of a pace to miss certain things. A nice touch too was having certain Japanese words used to explain tradition and the details you’d hope to learn by reading about another country’s cultural heritage. Courtenay has you breathe in the timescape and you feel as if you’ve experienced this place in time as you read the story. I happen to fancy this exploration through fiction because you can live so much through words and how the writer paints the portrait of a scene – it gives a realism to novels and it’s a lovely discovery to have as a reader who appreciates the historical past.

I loved how Ms Courtenay did not write a predictable story on the level that you were never quite certain what was going to befell Hannah – she is a feisty heroine, but she’s one who has a lot riding on her choices and on the will to live differently from the views of her family. Courtenay granted her the ability to think on her feet and to strive to hope she could have a better life if she could get through the adversities that were cutting her to the quick. I loved watching Hannah grow whilst she was at sea and how this growth gave her an empowerment once she reached Japan to where she far more stronger in spirit than when she first left England.

Courtenay has written such a gentle love story as to encircle your mind with her narrative, soaking inside the story as it unfolds and not wanting it to end. She gives you so much time to reside inside this story, you feel connected to Japan but moreso than that even, you feel very connected to her characters.

Such a lovely unputdownable discovery!

I cannot wait to read the next installment – as this surely is a historical drama I dearly love reading and are wicked happy shall be continuing!

-quoted from my review of The Scarlet Kimono

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

On my Connection to Ms. Courtenay:

Three years ago, on the 26th of April, 2014, I created #ChocLitSaturday a weekly Rom chat to celebrate the novelists of ChocLitUK but also, to expand to include book bloggers, readers and writers of Romance who have a penchant for the genre as a whole. Ms Courtenay started to become a regular fixture, and her encouraging conversations & ability to inspire others to converse freely throughout the chats put me at ease in my new role as a ‘Hostess’. She always seemed to know how to either start a topic or how to best suggest something to break the ice! I was always so very grateful to her and I am thinking I might have forgotten to tell her directly how much gratitude I had for her in those earlier chats! Over the years, I have found myself attached to each of my ‘regular’ chatters during the hour, and I consider Ms Courtenay a bookish like-minded soul and dear friend, as we tend to appreciate the same types of stories!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Courtenay through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #ChocLitSaturday the chat, kept in touch privately and having had previously read her time slip novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Book Review | “The Gilded Fan” (Book Two of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdaysThe Gilded Fan
by Christina Courtenay
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 9781781890080

Also by this author: Guest Post about Time Slips, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Scarlet Kimono, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, Marry for Love, The Jade Lioness, The Secret Kiss of Darkness

Also in this series: The Scarlet Kimono, The Jade Lioness


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by ChocLitUK

on 7th February, 2013

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 350

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats:

Paperback, Audiobook, Large Print & E-Book

The Kumashiro series:

Book One: The Scarlet Kimono (see also Review)

Book Two: The Gilded Fan

Book Three: The Jade Lioness | Synopsis

Converse via: #KumashiroSeries + #HistRom or #ChocLit

About Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay

Christina lives near Hereford and is married with two children. Although born in England she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East.

Christina’s debut Trade Winds was short listed for the 2011 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction. The Scarlet Kimono won the 2011 Big Red Reads Best Historical Fiction Award. Highland Storms (in 2012) and The Gilded Fan (in 2014) won the Historical Romantic Novel of the Year Award and The Silent Touch of Shadows won the 2012 Best Historical Read Award from the Festival of Romance. Christina is Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Novels: Trade Winds, Highland Storms, Monsoon Mists, The Scarlet Kimono, The Gilded Fan, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, The Soft Whisper of Dreams, The Jade Lioness, Marry in Haste, Once Bitten Twice Shy, Desperate Remedies and Never Too Late.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
Divider

Posted Saturday, 29 April, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 17th Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Domestic Violence, East India Company, England, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Martial Arts, Military Fiction, Modern British Literature, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multi-Generational Saga, Naturopathic Medicine, Puritan England, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Women's Fiction, Women's Rights, World Religions

+Blog Book Tour+ Blade of the Samurai (Book 2 of the Shinobi Mystery series) by Susan Spann

Posted Monday, 1 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , 4 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book) 15 July, 2014
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Official Author Websites: Site | @SusanSpann | Blog
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook Page Count: 304

Converse via: #ShinobiMystery#ShinobiMysteries OR #BladeOfTheSamurai


Katana

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Blade of the Samurai” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I opted to receive the first novel of the Shinobi mystery series to formulate a better impression about where the series began and where the series is continuing in this sequel. I received a complimentary hardback copy of the “Blade of the Samurai” direct from the author Susan Spann, in exchange for an honest review. However, I received a complimentary hardback copy of “Claws of the Cat” without obligation to post a review or comment on its behalf. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein on either novel. I elected to post this review for my own edification as much as my enjoyment for the introduction to a new series I will be in full support of watching grow through successive installments!

Inspired to Read: 

I personally always have a preference of reading serial fiction in ‘order’ of the established series, and I can go to great lengths to sort out the order of series too! This is especially true for the Elm Creek series (by Jennifer Chiaverini) and the Aunt Dimity series (by Nancy Atherton)! When I first started to research this novel going on tour this Summer (referencing Blade), I discovered that it is the type of series where you could ‘side step’ from the opening bits of the series, but I had feeling you’d miss quite a heap in doing so! Therefore, I was instantly inspired to read Claws ahead of Blade, and thus took up the offer to receive Claws with Blade for the tour! I simply love having a good footing into the momentum of how the key characters interact, what motivates them, and how the series expands by relieving more of their internal natures as much as a clue into their outward lives outside of their investigations (especially for cosies!).

On my connection to Ms. Spann:

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

In this way, it wasn’t until I learnt of Blade of the Samurai was going on tour through TLC Book Tours (the touring company I am hosting for this Interview & my forthcoming book review) I had decided to discover a bit more about her! In so doing, I learnt who she was ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak! I always considered her one of my ‘friends in the twitterverse’ but I never disclosed this to her until I was on the blog tour! Such serendipity as the tour has brought us a bit closer and I am grateful that Twitter is a social-positive method of reaching past our distances in geography to connect to people who share a passion for the written word.

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

A lovely surprise arrived within the pages of the book: 

Ms. Spann offered to send me a bookmark with the novels, as her husband had kindly designed two special editions to celebrate the series thus far along! Imagine my pure delight in finding I had received a “Blade of the Samurai” bookmark with my parcel of Shinobi mysteries! She tweeted me this picture as a ‘teaser’ and I must say, it hardly does the bookmark justice, as they are ‘slimline’ markers with the featured ‘cover art’ images per each book cover in the series. This one is a close-up on the hilt of the sword and the rolled blue & white paper; overlaid with the title and subtitle of ‘A Shinobi Mystery’. Eek. For a girl who is wholly giddy about a new cosy historical mystery series having read the first and fallen in love with it head over foot – this small gift will forevermore make me happy to use as I read each newly published installment!

Cleverly on the opposite side is a full listing of the series in print & the one title scheduled to be in print: “Flask of the Drunken Master” for July 2015! Incredibly next Summer will give me a new adventure for two of my favourite cosy investigators, whose charming method of fighting crime is nearly being indifferent to the request to solve them! Indifferent in the way that only a priest and ninja can elect to reveal as their own preferences of how to occupy their days are quite different from each other. I love how they simply ‘fall into’ a scene of a crime or are handed an offer to investigate nearly as if by accidental acquaintance. It is such a curious method of how a mystery can alight in your life and path, that I love seeing who they are connected too which will lead to a new case!

+Blog Book Tour+ Blade of the Samurai (Book 2 of the Shinobi Mystery series) by Susan SpannBlade of the Samurai
by Susan Spann
Source: Author via TLC Book Tours

June 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the shogun’s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.

When the shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor. . .

The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.

Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers to a thrilling and unforgettable adventure in sixteenth-century Japan.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

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

Series: Shinobi Mystery, Hiro Hattori


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


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Thriller Suspense, Japanese Fiction, Martial Art History, Suspense, World Religions


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

on 15 July, 2014

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 304

Author Biography:

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

Precursor to Blade: Claws of the Cat: {Book One}

Claws of the Cat by Susan SpannI could not stop reading Claws of the Cat once I found myself inside this beautiful world of Feudal Japan! I simply devoured the story, daring my eyes to read further and faster, yet wanting to take a pause to allow the scenery and the words to sink in to my conscience. This is a story of honour as much as it is a story of supposition without the ability to see past a suspicion. The fact that there is a cheeky and beloved cat, er, kitten in the household of where Father Mateo and Hiro keep their residence gave me an added joy! The very, very last scene of the novel left me in a happy smile as even though I do not understand Portuguese I recognised a ‘cognate’ of Spanish! The humour of that reply was not lost on my eyes! I love the pace of the novel, because Claws is set to have an expanse of time envelope the community, giving you the chance to know the layout and the rituals of their beliefs. There is a clever balance between Japanese spirituality, Zen Buddhism, Christianity, and a few others in-between all three. I love writers who find a way to etch a spiritual presence as part of the make-up of a character’s mind. If you appreciate crime fiction that allows you to work through the muddling puzzle as it starts to unravell and thread through the needling of proof – you will findClaws of the Cat most enjoyable to read!
– quoted from my book review of Claws of the Cat

  Katana  

Resuming where Claws left off:

As soon as I opened the pages of Blade of the Samurai, I felt as though time had stopped moving forward as I greeted Hiro and his kitten Gato as though only a few hours had transpired between visiting with them! I am still mirthfully enjoying a cheeky chuckle over the origins of his kitten’s name! Even his dear friend Kazu returns in the opening pages, which is quite wonderful considering that I had enjoyed observing their close friendship in Claws. I was hoping he might come back in successive novels in this series of the Shinobi mysteries, and thankfully, I did not have very long to wait!

I believe Hiro has grown a bit through his close companionship with the Priest, as although he is classically trained and carries on his shinobi heritage well, there are parts of his being that are being reasoned a bit outside of his traditional view and beliefs. If not, I daresay he would not work well alongside Father Mateo, as the Priest holds law, truth, and justice to such high accords. In this way, I appreciate the way Hiro is being conveyed and how his differences under Father Mateo’s influence of friendship continue to show how unique of man he is when projected against his peers. Even in consideration of other shinobi, Hiro tends to walk a line between two cultures and two distinct ways of living through practice of conviction. Read More

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Posted Monday, 1 September, 2014 by jorielov in #LitChat, 16th Century, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Bookish Discussions, Bout of Books, Clever Turns of Phrase, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Equality In Literature, Geographically Specific, Green-Minded Publishers, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Martial Art History, Martial Arts, Passionate Researcher, Psychological Suspense, Scribd, Suspense, TLC Book Tours, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, World Religions

+Book Review+ Claws of the Cat (Book 1 of the Shinobi Mystery series) by Susan Spann

Posted Thursday, 21 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

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Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks),
(a Thomas Donne book) 16th July, 2013

imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group,
which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers

Official Author Websites: Site | @SusanSpann | Blog
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook Page Count: 288

Genre(s): Cosy Mystery | Suspense | Japanese Fiction | Martial Art History

Converse via: #ShinobiMystery OR #ShinobiMysteries

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Blade of the Samurai” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I opted to receive the first novel of the Shinobi mystery series to formulate a better impression about where the series began and where the series is continuing in this sequel. I received a complimentary hardback copy of the “Blade of the Samurai” direct from the author Susan Spann, in exchange for an honest review. However, I received a complimentary hardback copy of “Claws of the Cat” without obligation to post a review or comment on its behalf. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein on either novel. I elected to post this review for my own edification as much as my enjoyment for the introduction to a new series I will be in full support of watching grow through successive installments!

Inspired to Read:

I personally always have a preference of reading serial fiction in ‘order’ of the established series, and I can go to great lengths to sort out the order of series too! This is especially true for the Elm Creek series (by Jennifer Chiaverini) and the Aunt Dimity series (by Nancy Atherton)! When I first started to research this novel going on tour this Summer (referencing Blade), I discovered that it is the type of series where you could ‘side step’ from the opening bits of the series, but I had feeling you’d miss quite a heap in doing so! Therefore, I was instantly inspired to read Claws ahead of Blade, and thus took up the offer to receive Claws with Blade for the tour! I simply love having a good footing into the momentum of how the key characters interact, what motivates them, and how the series expands by relieving more of their internal natures as much as a clue into their outward lives outside of their investigations (especially for cosies!).

On my connection to Ms. Spann:

I started visiting the chats hosted by @LitChat in the latter months of 2013, as it was around the time of the conference at The Betsy in which I started to cross paths with regular chatters, amongst whom were Natalia Sylvester (début novelist of “Chasing the Sun”) and Susan Spann. I am unsure which month I first started to notice Ms. Spann as a friendly presence who always reminded me of myself — someone who provided cheerful commentary, engaging questions for each visiting guest author, and a wicked knowledge base on a variety of topics. Generally speaking, I always click-over to read a person’s Twitter profile, but whilst engaged in those #LitChat(s) I felt like it was this magical rendezvous for the bookish and those who are attuned to bookish culture. In this way, it wasn’t until I learnt of Blade of the Samurai was going on tour through TLC Book Tours (the touring company I am hosting for this Interview & my forthcoming book review) I had decided to discover a bit more about her! In so doing, I learnt who she was ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak! I always considered her one of my ‘friends in the twitterverse’ but I never disclosed this to her until I was on the blog tour! Such serendipity as the tour has brought us a bit closer and I am grateful that Twitter is a social-positive method of reaching past our distances in geography to connect to people who share a passion for the written word.

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

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Book Synopsis:

May 1564: When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Susan SpannMateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.

Author Biography:

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

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The cultural aspects of the story | hidden sub-layers to the narrative:

Spann has a way of integrating cultural references into the undercurrent of her narrative, giving the experience of soaking into her suspenseful mystery series a pure delight to any reader who likes to learn about cultures outside of their own. In this début novel, where the heart of the series lies in Hiro and Father Mateo’s presence in a place where outside influences on religious grounds is not taken lightly; these two men not only forged a friendship with each other but they form a friendship with the reader. Although there are only a few Japanese words inserted into the context of the novel itself, there are symbols to designate a new paragraph or a spilt between two different sequences. Spann also acknowledged when the use of either Portuguese or Japanese dialect were better of being used per each person they spoke to on their journey.

The subtle mention of the type of clothing different men would way to signify to each other their rank and of their position in their field of service gave a touch of authenticity. I had to simply smile when I read about miso soup served with tofu cubes inside, as my personal preference for miso soup is actually miso, daikon radish, and scallions. She has an intricate knowledge to share about weaponry giving a light on the tools of the trade for the Shinobi. I especially enjoyed the history and usage of the ‘claws’ for which the title implies a strong connection to the central plot of discovery!

Each of the little hidden sub-layers stitched into the narrative through the cultural traditions of the Japanese, gave me a proper sense of ‘time’, ‘setting’, and ‘place’ as I felt as though I was walking alongside Hiro or Father Mateo. This is important, as the 16th Century is quite a throw backwards in time, without the benefit of having living relatives and/or known history to fall back on as a method of connection. Spann even included little bobbles of cognitive thinking, showing how Hiro would want to avoid a mis-step in his deduction if he applied the logic of a piece of ancient wisdom. These are the kind of little moments I always cherish to find in a historical piece of fiction.

My Review of Claws of the Cat:

The best opening sequence to illustrate a close friendship between two diverse cultural backgrounds is placing two characters in a cheeky exchange of a game of cat and mouse; which is how we are introduced to Hiro and Father Mateo! Hiro is a proud ‘shinobi‘ whereas Mateo is a proud Priest; they each adhere not only to their convictions of their religious and cultural backgrounds, but they are two men of devout honour intermixed with a sense of duty that defies the logic of their age. Father Mateo is a humble man of God, who has chosen to serve in Japan (originally from Portugal), with his limited understanding of the language but his great concern on the spiritual lives of those who accept his guidance through his beliefs in Christianity. Hiro on the other hand, is shaped by his roots as a shinobi assassin, whose code of conduct and of respect goes past spirituality and more into the honour generally befit a warrior. Each of them tries the patience of the other, but it is who they are at the root of their core which endears their friendship the most. Hiro instantly comes across as a man betwixt his own traditions and in full acceptance of Mateo’s; untoward feeling if a day approached where he would have to sacrifice his life for Mateo’s, he would not hesitate.

The crime itself is a brutal killing of a man, who was murdered inside of a teahouse where one of the students of Father Mateo lives and works. This brought Father Mateo into a culture that has its own way of looking at things (as there is a code of honour & ethic allowing a vengeance killing to avenge a deceased loved one), forcing his hand to intercede on a young girl and placing himself in extreme danger as he did so. Watching Hiro’s reaction to the actions of his friend gave the impression that their friendship is both complicated and respectful of differing opinions.

A cover-up of a murder can always be more suspicious the further the truth extends from the visual (or physical) evidence. As Hiro had explained his own thoughts on the murder scene, I had started to gather my own. I loved learning more about the teahouses during the 16th Century, as they were very reminiscent of their counterparts in Victorian London; worlds which exist on their own clock, in their own way, and are closed to the outside world nearly completely except for certain compliances to when the world is left on their doorstep.

The working theory of this unusual duo of investigators, is that someone wanted to elicit a war to take over the coveted shogunate position which in of itself gave control over the military; yet the person in this position had to yield to the emperor who was still in a higher level of power. The cause and effect of the murder started to take on a political motive when new facts were starting to arise as Hiro and Father Mateo dug further into the witnesses who gave accounts of what they knew. I enjoyed watching Hiro observe each person they questioned, seeking clues given away through the lost art of reading body language in combination with spoken responses to enquiries. His keen observation skills warranted his partnership with Father Mateo who was more oft to speak out of haste rather than out of pensivity.

Oh! Mid-way through I sorted out of whom Hiro kept reminding me of,… do you ever strive to remember something on the very tip of your memory? This is what I was attempting to do each time Hiro would be reflected as raising his brow and/or showing a similar small response to something Mateo was saying to him. A lightbulb finally glowed quite bright: Spock! He reminds me of the logical thinking of Spock (from Star Trek: the Original Series!) and how his exchanges of theory verse thought did not always align or sympathise with Mateo! Hiro was oft-times in awe of Mateo, for not only proving he was not as unaware as others would tend to believe, but for his courage in seeking out a hidden clue Hiro himself might have missed the thread to follow!

I could not stop reading Claws of the Cat once I found myself inside this beautiful world of Feudal Japan! I simply devoured the story, daring my eyes to read further and faster, yet wanting to take a pause to allow the scenery and the words to sink in to my conscience. This is a story of honour as much as it is a story of supposition without the ability to see past a suspicion. The fact that there is a cheeky and beloved cat, er, kitten in the household of where Father Mateo and Hiro keep their residence gave me an added joy! The very, very last scene of the novel left me in a happy smile as even though I do not understand Portuguese I recognised a ‘cognate’ of Spanish! The humour of that reply was not lost on my eyes! I love the pace of the novel, because Claws is set to have an expanse of time envelope the community, giving you the chance to know the layout and the rituals of their beliefs. There is a clever balance between Japanese spirituality, Zen Buddhism, Christianity, and a few others in-between all three. I love writers who find a way to etch a spiritual presence as part of the make-up of a character’s mind. If you appreciate crime fiction that allows you to work through the muddling puzzle as it starts to unravell and thread through the needling of proof – you will find Claws of the Cat most enjoyable to read!

I shall be spending Friday consuming “Blade of the Samurai”!

Susan Spann has a writing style which keys you into the moment of the hour:

Spann has a saying on her website “Spann of Time”, and to me, ever since I first read that on her site, I felt as though she was giving a clue as to the type of woman and writer she truly is! Her rapt fascination with Japan and the historical lore around the shinobi is clearly evident in how she writes on their behalf as though you could knock on their door, request an audience over tea, and jot down notes of their lives. The absence of strong language is a personal celebration for me, because I was ever so blessed to have found not one word out of place nor offensive in this entire story! I was nearly beginning to think I was the ancient one in today’s market for cosy mysteries as too oft I am finding myself that ‘strong language’ is more the norm than the quirk! How blessed then, to soak inside this story in full absorption of its merits and simply wander off into the labyrinth neighbourhoods of Kyoto, Japan!

If I had had the time, I would have made myself a fat pot of fresh brewed tea, left a cuppa on my heart mug rug and drunk in the aromatherapy of the herbal tea as my eyes drank in the words!

Note: On the murder itself (by description and of the condition the body is found): Generally speaking, I have the tendency to read more Cosies than Hard-Boiled mysteries, but on certain rare occasions I find myself keenly fascinated and intrigued by a suspenseful crime narrative that becomes what I personally refer to as: a hard-boiled this side of a cosy! Specifically due to the fact the murder might be bludgeonedly brutal and the deceased if left ravaged by a passionate killer. There are a few authors I like who fall under this measure of a mark for mysteries and they are as follows: Cleo Coyle (for the Coffeehouse mysteries); Heather Graham (for the Ghost Harrison series); Anna Lee Huber (for the Lady Darby series); and now Susan Spann (for the Shinobi mysteries)!

As I will discuss further when I post my review (at long last, yes I know dear hearts!) for “The Anatomist’s Wife”, I discovered this particular penchant for either a medical examiner inquest of a search for a killer OR simply a stronger knitted story-line where the crime takes a back-seat to the expanding investigation into who could have committed the crime to such a degree as how it was discovered. I celebrate each author who pens a story that leaves me wholly outside my own realm for a spell, and dips into the curious nature of criminology, forensic psychology, and the pathological motivations you’d find in a cosy or hard-boiled mystery!

The writers I always list have a preference for on certain instances of inclusion, are the ones who transcend outside the genre I love to read, and weave together story that is not focused on the details of how someone died (although they are given their due on camera so to speak), but rather everything that happens after the crime itself. Pulling you further into the psychosis of how each investigator navigates an investigation and how each person treats the case he or she is working to resolve. Only the crime involved in these kinds of story fit the ‘hard-boiled’ style, whereas the scope of the stories are most definitely ‘cosy’.

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Read an Excerpt of the Novel:
Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery by MacMillian Publishers

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This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

TLC Book Tours | Tour Hostclick-through to follow the blogosphere tour.

Next I shall be reviewing “Blade of the Samurai”!

Earlier I posted an Author Q&A with Susan Spann
in conjunction with this showcase!

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See what I am hosting next:

Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva

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Comments make me smile! Let’s start a conversation! I appreciate your visit & look forward to your return! I do moderate the comment threads; do not worry if the comment is delayed in being seen! Drop back soon!

Reader Interactive Question:

What do you love the most about cosy historical mysteries!? And, did you know that I have found this particular niche of fiction to be one of my favourites of the past year? If you visit my Story Vault and go down the page, you will find the other reviews of stories which alighted in my hands through a blog tour, and have given me such a blessing to discover!

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Claws of the Cat” and the book synopsis were provided by the author Susan Spann and used with permission. The author photograph and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Buy links on Scribd excerpt are not affiliated with Jorie Loves A Story. Book Excerpt was able to be embedded due to codes provided by Scribd. Miso soup clipart inserted through the ClipArt Plug-In via WP for the Open Clip Art Library (OCAL) – all clip art images are in the public domain and are free to use without restrictions.}}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Ninja – (en.wikipedia.org)

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “Claws of the Cat”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

 

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Posted Thursday, 21 August, 2014 by jorielov in #LitChat, 16th Century, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Bookish Discussions, Bout of Books, Clever Turns of Phrase, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Equality In Literature, Geographically Specific, Green-Minded Publishers, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Martial Arts, Passionate Researcher, Psychological Suspense, Scribd, Suspense, TLC Book Tours, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, World Religions

+Blog Book Tour+ Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton {a novel of Ancient Egypt} Egyptology taken to a new level & sphere of literary breadth!

Posted Saturday, 24 May, 2014 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Published By: New American Library (NAL)
( ) an imprint of Penguin Group (USA
) 6 May, 2014
Official Author Websites:   Site | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, E-book
Page Count: 448

Converse on Twitter via: #DaughterOfTheGods, #DaughteroftheGodsTour,

#StephanieThornton, #Hatshepsut, & #VirtualBookTourFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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

Inspired to Read:

My curiosity about Ancient Egypt started as a young child where my fascination with the Ancient Civilisation took a central focal point for aspiring to study Egyptology, as prior to realising I was a writer I felt I was being led into Archaeology. Part of the passion I had for Archaeology was my intense desire to understand the civilisations of the world as they were emerging into existence. I had not realised then, as I do now, that it was my keen interest in Sociological studies that led me more towards an awareness of Anthropological sites verse Archaeological. In full and equal measure, the desire to travel abroad to ancient ruins, temples, and sites of where the ancient’s drew breath and light was always an instinct of mine. The fact that I have already climbed four pyramids of the Mayans only encourages me to believe that I can still find the hours to uncover a way to keep this passion of mine throughout my next travel destinations.

The direct appeal is to bring History into the forefront of my living hours, to where walking and breathing where people lived so very long ago secures you in that setting, locale, and moment. I still recollect how I felt at a ruin in the Yucatán,… as Uxmal had this trance over me. I felt very interconnected to that city and the people who had lived there during its heyday, nearly to the brink I could see a bit past where the ruins still stood and how the city would have been the lifeblood of their era. Time and history are intertwined with one another, and there are certain places in this world where we can dip back into the vortex and draw back out a piece of what once was ‘the living now’.

Egyptology was one of the avenues of pursuit I once considered as a professional endeavour as I loved the aspect of venturing so far back into the living past as to nearly come face to face with one of the most dynamically original civilisations which set the bar for everyone else to follow. Ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece are the sites of where most of us look back to gain insight into the present. I have carried this zest for the era into my motion picture wanderings as one of my favourite films is a classical one: Cleopatra (1934) starring Claudette Colbert. More recently, the trilogy of Mummy films starring Brendan Fraser took my mind away in imagined bliss of tempting the fates of tombs! To this day, I refer to the third film as “The Mummy in China” as it just made more sense to do so!

The extended trailer for “Cleopatra” (1934) starring Claudette Colbert on TCM! Introduced by Cecil B. DeMille, of whom is now one of the film-makers alongside Alfred Hitchcock and Frank Capra I admire most in the Golden Years of Hollywood. They each brought something genuinely unique to their style of motion pictures and were ahead of their years as far as where they took their stories.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Synopsis:

Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie ThorntonEgypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt…and sets her on a profoundly changed course.

Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Isis Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.

Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall….

Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

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Author Biography:

Stepanie ThorntonStephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

“The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora” is available from NAL/Penguin, and “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” will hit the shelves May 2014 and “The Tiger Queens: A Novel of Genghis Khan” will follow in Fall 2014.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comA book for lovers of Egyptology:

Illuminated to life by the little details you would expect to find out of an etching of Ancient Egypt unite inside your mind’s eye as you drink in the words of Daughter of the Gods. The fragrances of Myrrh are nearly smelt as I read the opening pages, as Myrrh was regularly burnt alongside Frankincense, Sandalwood, and Patchouli Musk. I always loved the aromatherapy of earthy scents when I used to burn incense whilst creating the words inside my own manuscripts. I even have a bit of a hilarious story when I first attempted to cleanse the air with my first smudging! Laughs. Incense wafts into your nostrils and gives you a sense of calm whilst you create. I always found it a way to dip into the portal of creativity and allow my mind to cart me off to ‘somewhere other than here’ even more readily than listening to music as oft-times I did not always want the interference of chord and tone, but wanted to dig a bit into the internal space where a writer creates their most museful of thoughts. As I started to read Daughter of the Gods I nearly wished I could unpack my sticks of ancient scents and absorb into the story on a different plane! Thankfully, my nose has a long memory and as I happily drank in Thornton’s words (the blessing hand of a wordsmith) I drifted back in reflection of the scents that used to sit in the air and allow my mind to stir a bottomless well of possibilities.

The insertion of references of ka had me smiling as I reflected back upon my studies of Tai Chi Chaun and Qigong, as the elements of the discipline in which I studied is the pursuit of strengthening one’s spiritual energy known as ‘chi’ or ‘qi’. The energy which is quite vital to living and a well of life embedded into our fiber. I had always known the Egyptians were most intrinsically intuitive about elements of life that most cultures do not acknowledge or discuss in modern eras. They are one of the few cultures who attached their lives to their spiritual souls in a way where the transition of life and the afterlife were not merely viewed as passages the soul took in exchange for another life but rather they threaded life and death in a tangible way whilst they lived. They were able to connect and observe the threads of time’s tapestry in gentle observations which led them to have a larger scope of perception knitted into their hearts.

If you think on it a bit, the Egyptians called on their Gods as way of keeping their spirituality a living guide during their everyday lives, as a way of having a spiritual ‘checking’ for their conscience and their actions. In this way, they remind me of Catholics who relate to Saints and turn to the Saints guides to understand how best to proceed. I also had not known the women during Hatshepsut’s time oft walked bare-chested with only a sheath to cover them. This practiced reminded me of the aboriginal tribe featured in one of my favourite childhood films Medicine Man. So much in fact, I found cross-references between aboriginal tribes and Ancient Egyptians! Except to say the main difference here, is that Hatshepsut’s attire was her assertion of power as a woman who was not afraid to dress as a man in order to prove the point of her confidence as Queen.

Lest I bring up that I was most intrigued and deeply savouring the rites of funerals inside Daughter of the Gods? Mummification practices and rituals of death are most fascinating to me! A bit like how I appreciate studying the Day of the Dead as much as the different passages of life for death throughout different World Religions and cultures of whom honour their dead in different ways.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

My Review of Daughter of the Gods:

Hatshepsut is a woman who approached life in a cavalier attitude prior to the violent death of her beloved sister Neferubity, whose kind heart and love of her younger sister befelled her fate. Neferubity took Hatshepsut’s place on the alter of death whilst a river bull locked a malicious maul of quavering alarm in Hatshepsut’s soul. The story of Daughter of the Gods begins at the very upturn moment in the future Queen’s life where she must decide on the kind of woman she is meant to be rather than the reckless one she was previously. A challenging beginning to insinuate a path of change and one of worth in a soul not yet tethered to a fate of honour, duty, and rule. In the quake of her anguish she took to self-harming and soul gutting sacrifices to resurrect an offering of peace and remorse in an effort to apologise to her sister resting in the Field of Reeds.

As Thornton describes the rituals of Ancient Egypt, I was drawn to noticing similarities to the Native American’s I’ve studied in the past (specifically the Lakotas), as they describe heaven as Happy Hunting Ground. Anubis is both the protector of the Dead as much as he is the equivalent of the Angel of Death in Christianity as he is the go-between guide from the living world to the afterlife. Part of what I loved about Thornton’s touch of giving us a strong representation of Ancient Egypt is that she allows the historical fact of the setting absorb into our bones as readily as drinking in the dialogue and narrative. She paints such a clarity of thought that your mind flickers forward along with the lead characters as they allow you the grace of spending a bit of time with them as they live their hours. I noticed that I did not have any difficulty in shifting into this timescape; which was a bit of a surprise, as I originally felt due to my lack of readings in this period I might falter to grasp it as strongly as I did. A credit to the writer!

Hatshepsut is like most women accustomed to being bourne into a role they do not wish to fill. She rebels against the convention of standard of her time, whilst plotting a way forward without being shackled to provincial roles befit a wife of a Pharaoh. It is how Thornton chose to portray her path I found most interesting, as I am uncertain how much is readily known about her through historical records. What I liked about this portrayal is its plausibility of being true. For a ruler known for her transformative view of her role as Queen, I would imagine she would take steps to ensure her position at all costs available to her. Yet. Her path towards the throne held an obstacle in that of her half-brother who was now her husband.

She is given a fleshing of character that makes you settle into her innermost thoughts as she chooses her next step alongside her fated path. Her life reminds me so much of the Royals in England, as they too, have destinies chosen for them prior to their ascension. To find happiness within the routine and to find joy within the process of the duties which are meant to be carried out of honour. She learnt a painful lesson along the way about how far a woman could carry her rebellion which had my mind reel back to my viewing of The Duchess (2008) starring Keira Knightley. Her husband Thut is a brute as much as the next man whose self-worth is hinged on perception rather than love. You ache along with Hatshepsut as she curls into an internal war of survival. She was betrayed as Caesar by those within her inner circle, as she kept company with a pack of jackals instead of seers.

As she would grow in her reign, so too would her ability to trust her own instincts as to what would be needed to be done. The greatest testament of her power given back to the world was her sincerity of protection and of wanting to ensure the sanctity of the ka of those she ruled. She knew of the depth of sacrifice but she also knew of the honour one needed to ascend through death. Her mind was oft a war-ground of internal conflictions. To lead was not good enough if she could not inspire prosperity through peace.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comA notation on the writing style of Stephanie Thornton:

Thornton’s understanding on the metaphoric wordings to gain a reader’s attention in the heart of her story run counterpoint to the setting within Ancient Egypt, to where even the causal reader would acknowledge they were not within the walls of a the modern world! I loved how she could encapsulate the ‘time’ of Hatshepsut’s world with the flavourings of phrases which carved a deep stroke of Egyptian flair for everyday living! She had found a way to etch an eloquence out of the nuances and give us such a startling sense of their reality as to be able to breathe the same air! I loved feeling as though I had not only become transported but transplanted into the 1400s BC! This is not an easy feat and surely more difficult than the eras I am normally ensconced inside such as the Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian eras of England’s past! Within those eras, there is still a living sense of the day, of the regalia of the ton, and the essence of how the differences between the classes was set by station.

To step back into a fully realised realm of Egypt, when the first female ruler would set the foundation for Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I, is a triumph on Thornton’s research and her agile eye in knowing which details would be pertinent to share and guide us as we shifted forward in the story itself. I further applauded her ability to give the realism of Ancient Egypt its most coveted veil of truism! I oft find the writers who can breathe life into their novels to where we are in a lucid trance of where their novels are set give us the most joy to read. In this way, I cannot wait to read another novel by Thornton to see where my heart is led to traverse next! Although, part of me wonders, if Ancient Egypt will be re-explored or if there is another in her back-list I have not yet realised available?! It is most surely a realm I want to venture back into once more, for sure! And, now that the pendulum is set as it were, which author to yield to next to eclipse this wicked sweet story? As now that my palette has a taste for Ancient Egypt, I must yield to seeking out more stories to pacify my hunger! Such a happy thirst to have, eh?

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Virtual Road Map of “Daughter of the Gods” Blog Tour is found here:

Daughter of the Gods Tour with HFVBTsFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comI am happily honoured to be a blog tour hostess for:

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Kindly know each post I include “Related Articles” those links were not selected by a computer, they were hand-selected by me! I read each one & felt it was necessary to include the links for reading after you had concluded my own blog post.

Reader Interactive Question:

Which books about Ancient Egypt have you become drawn into yourself!? What is it about the setting, time, and period of the Ancient Rulers that you find an appreciation of enquiry? What do you seek out whilst sourcing writers of the Ancient Times!? Do you like the drinkabliity of the narrative? The combination of a wordsmith’s vision against a researcher’s heart? Of whom is your favourite living history character to be explored in a fictional story!? Is there any Egyptian Ruler or lesser known person that you’d prefer to see come to life?!

{SOURCES: Book cover for “Daughter of the Gods”, Author Biography and Book Synopsis  were provided by HFVBT – Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. The documentary “Hatshepsut’s Egypt” via History Stories had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share a complimentary feature on the subject of the novel. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Hatshepsut: The Woman Who Was King – (discoveringegypt.com) I loved how this site gives further insight into her legacy as a woman ruler & how she inspired the women who followed her to succeed in ruling where men only dared to previously.

The True (And Sometimes Painful) Story of Publishing Daughter of the Gods – (stephanie-thornton.com) I am beyond grateful Ms. Thornton had a writing friend who championed her passion for Hatshepsut and inspired her to continue to find a loving home for this to become a printed book of which has alighted in my hands to read! A true blessing indeed! There is nothing more precious than a writer’s belief in their stories nor in the determined heart to see a dream realised!

Discover Hatshepsut’s Temple – (youtube.com) This is such a unique video perspective of a slice of her life that unless you travel to Egypt would not be able to see yourself. Gave a grounding of the setting for the novel ahead of reading.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Hatshepsut’s Egypt by History Stories

Inspired to Share: I wanted to find a video I could share that could draw out the essence of who Hatshepsut was whilst inspiring a visitor to find a tangible connection to her such as the one I found myself attached to whilst reading “Daughter of the Gods”. I realise sometimes it helps to have a visual aide to lay thought and dimension upon a story, which is one reason I am always attempting to find book trailers to include with my ruminations on the stories I love discovering; however in lieu of that first choice, I settled on this video. There is something about the presenters euphoric joy in uncovering bits and bobbles about Hatshepsut that inspired me to share this with you today. Notwithstanding a few errors or non-clarifications of a few historical facts (as evidenced in the comment threads on YouTube), I felt as history is subjective and elusive at the same time, any person who can draw this much of an enthused response of someone who lived and breathed over 3,500+ years ago deserves a bit of a spotlight! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 24 May, 2014 by jorielov in 1400s BC, Amun (God of Air), Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egypt Sports, Ancient Olympic Games, Archery, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Chariot Racing, Clever Turns of Phrase, Death & Burial Rites, Documentary on Topic or Subject, Egypt, Embalming Preservation, Geographically Specific, Hatshepsut, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Imhotep, Important Figures of Ancient Times, Marriage of Convenience, Mortuary Science, Mummification Practices, Native American Spirituality, Passionate Researcher, Pharaohs & Dynasties, Qigong, Re (God of the Sun), Rituals for the Afterlife, Rulers of Ancient Egypt, Tai Chi Chaun, Women of Power & Rule, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, World Religions