Format: Paperback ARC

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


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

Author Interview | Discussing the world within the Voyages of Jake Flynn series with R.J. Wood

Posted Sunday, 24 June, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva

Good morning, dear hearts! Today, I have a special treat for you, as I had the chance to interview the author of a new Upper Middle Grade / Young Adult Fantasy series wherein I get to re-visit the concept of Space Pirates and flying ships once more! As you might recall, I happened to love the pirates I found on the Rim, in the audiobook ‘Rimrider’ whilst when it comes to flying ships in space, outside of The Clan Chronicles – there have been quite a few recently which have tempted me into their chapters! I love how we can bend what is plausible in Speculative Lit and take ordinary ships which were meant for the waters of Earth and re-position them into orbit where they find a new way of being useful as transportation in the Cosmos!

Ahead of the conversation, I have with Mr Wood, is an extract from the latest installment of the series ‘Beyond the Moon’, which touches on part of the background of the series wherein the origins of Jake Flynn and his parents but also, the legacy he has within him as he’s given a talent few can claim as their own. This is part of what is extraordinary about the series, as his particular gift is what helps ignite the ships themselves to be able to fly as you will learn more in my interview! For now, enjoy this extract!

Extract from ‘Beyond the Moon’ by R.J. Wood

the second novel in the Voyages of Jake Flynn; used with permission of the author

“Tychus was the last known of his people,” Jayron said. “He disappeared a dozen years ago after the Ithirian fleet perished. The rest of his people were killed or worse by your people on Celestra.” Starla made no visible reaction.

“It seems Tychus and his wife survived, went to Earth, and had a son there,” she said. “Furthermore, I am sure you are aware of the rift amongst my people; the rebellion between those who did not support the actions taken against the humans and those who did. Otto and I are among the first.”

“This is all preposterous,” Daegus said. “How can we believe anything a Celestrian has to say?” With that, the councilors began to argue the possibilities amongst themselves. Their voices rose quickly and in intensity, all except for Kilian. The old one sat there and quietly stared at Jake with an expression of curiosity. Finally, he sat up and spoke something that was drowned out by the others. He tried to repeat himself louder, but still he could not be heard over the discord. At last, he reached over Richard, grabbed a black iron mallet on the table, and slapped it down hard several times until the room grew quiet.

“I said, CAN HE CHANNEL?” The old man finished and began to pant.

Jake stepped forward and held up his hands. A moment later the glow of his aura filled the room. The humans all stared at him and one of them caught their breath. Kilian then spoke in whispered tones as if reciting a poem,

“Born and raised on distant star.
Searcher bound both near and far…”

He trailed off, but Starla picked it up and continued.

“What he seeks he does not know,
until he lets his family grow.

Against the tide he must stride.
A mighty ship he will ride.
Guided true by faithful hands
chasing dreams to far-off lands,

Through the torrents to the core,
where ancient evil stirs once more.
To keep a dark queen at bay,
A gift of love must win the day.

Single light in starless night,
burning hot and shining bright.
Time will come when he must stand.
The fate of all held in his hand.”

When she finished all eyes were upon Jake and there was silence.
“Yes,” Starla said after a pause, “he is the one this prophesy speaks of. Jake is the Justicar and he needs your help.”

I was thankful Mr Wood went into quite a few details surrounding both the light energy and the propulsion of the ships but also, gave a bit of a hinting towards the heart of the series itself as it revolves through Jake Flynn! I almost wish some of this back-story had been included in the first novel ‘Destiny’s Gambit’ as I found how the author describe his world in this conversation would have benefited the story. As you truly get a firm understanding of what he is attempting to achieve in the series (in regards to scope) but also, it gives you a keen insight which I think would have tempered the confusion I had initially trying to sort out the world-building.

This is a very imaginative series and one which I think would interest all readers, irregardless of age, due the cross-components of where elemental magic, old world ships and adventurous Quests intersect to give us something to chew on about personal destiny, chosen families and the will to seek answers for questions which tug at our souls. I look forward to reading your thoughts in the threads below this conversation and I hope you find it as wicked lovely as I did in receiving the author’s responses!

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The voyages of Jake Flynn series:

Destiny's Gambit by R.J. WoodBeyond the Moon by R.J. Wood

Destiny’s Gambit | book one | see also Review

Beyond the Moon | Book Two | synopsis

I do enjoy a wicked good transmorphication – there is a cheeky good one in Destiny’s Gambit, which takes place during a rescue attempt aboard a pirate ship! What impressed me the most is how honest it was to happen – as this was a stirring of the back-story on behalf of Jake and his parents, or rather even, his ‘kind’. There is an old order of magic in this realm which can be channelled and re-directed at will, which makes it wicked awesome! I also liked how most of the magic involves light energy and the transference of this energy in order for things to work.

There is also elemental magic present which makes for interesting scenes but what truly captured me was the teamwork and evolving partnership between Jake, Starla, Otto and Jehn. They were forging a new path together, seeking to get away from their mutual enemies and sorting out the details of their personal discoveries of each other along the way. As most of this story takes place aboard ship, I was awaiting the conflict to begin – where two ships or more would be pitted against each other. When the time finally came, I found the battle was stalled a bit too easily but further what interested me is how there are portals which act as hyperspace jaunts for the ships – where you can literally move yourself through this part of the universe in a faster way than normal space.

I truly loved the symbolism and the analogies threading through Destiny’s Gambit as well as the spirituality which was hugged softly into the background. There are a lot of life affirming lessons being shared through the adventures of Jake Flynn – including how to handle fear, uncertainty, ambiguous loss (of his parents) and to grow out of the courage you never knew you had within you. It’s a story about a boy coming of age after finding out everything he thought he know about himself and his origins was only part of the true story. Once he was in-flight away from Earth, it wasn’t just his origins which were calling him home but it was his truer nature and the destiny which was awaiting for his arrival to become revealled.

-quoted from my review of Destiny’s Gambit

Genres: Sci-Fantasy | Steampunk | Space Pirates

Young Adult | Magic | Adventure

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Posted Sunday, 24 June, 2018 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Family Life, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Literature for Boys, Lola's Blog Tours, Nautical Fiction, Science Fantasy, Self-Published Author, Small Towne USA, Urban Fantasy, Washington, West Coast USA, YA Fantasy

Blog Book Tour | “Destiny’s Gambit” (Book One: The Voyages of Jake Flynn) by R.J. Wood

Posted Wednesday, 20 June, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. Now, as a 5th Year Book Blogger I’ve decided I’ve reached a point where I can have better flexibility with scheduling guest features and reviews on my blog without feeling I’m stretched too thin between the commitments I’m making to feature the stories and authors I am blessed with thanksgiving to discover as I blog my readerly life.

Reading is starting to resume it’s enjoyment, even though I still have my migraines to shift through, being able to host for her authors has been a renewed joy. This marks my first blog tour hosting for Lola after a considerable absence and I look forward to finding more tours I can host with her throughout the year.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Destiny’s Gambit” direct from the author R.J. Wood in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

Coming out of #WyrdAndWonder, I knew I would be keeping #FantasyReads in my reading queue straight-up until Sci Fi November! However, I had the joy of finding this series whilst #wyrdandwonder was still happening this past May! Originally, I was going to host an extract and a guest feature for the blog tour, when I had the unexpected surprise of being able to receive the books for review consideration! I was thrilled by this news, as what drew me into wanting to read this series all along was how this was marked as a Fantasy story fit for either Middle Grade or Young Adult readers. I oft find myself struggling to find a story of Fantasy I can appreciate as an Adult reader much less finding one I would love to see reside in either MG or YA markets! This series felt hopeful from the perspective, I was hoping the world-building and character development would be as stellar as it felt it could be through the synopsis!

The synopsis I read for this story is actually the same one on the back of the book I read for this review, however, I didn’t have it in full to share with you today. It talks more about the world Jake Flynn is entering and the mysterious suspense of not understanding where his parents have been his whole life. That in of itself was a curious footnote for me – as what would have become of them which would limit or restrict their communication with their son?

The story itself felt like a Quest and those are the ones I do appreciate finding in Fantasy – but this one felt different too. Not quite traditional Fantasy as it has elements of Science Fiction (and Steampunk) knitted into it’s corridors of interest whilst it hinges a bit on the fantastical where not all the entities Jake is going to come up against are going to be a) human and b) benign! I hadn’t a clue what to expect once I began reading the story and thus, I went into it with an open mind hoping I’d find a wicked good read!

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Blog Book Tour | “Destiny’s Gambit” (Book One: The Voyages of Jake Flynn) by R.J. WoodDestiny's Gambit
Subtitle: The Voyages of Jake Flynn
by R.J. Wood
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Ravven
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

A resourceful boy takes a glowing sailboat across the stars to search for his long-missing parents and becomes the target of pirates and an evil cabal with a sinister agenda.

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1514277737

Also by this author: Destiny's Gambit

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Sci-Fantasy, YA Fantasy


Published by Self Published Author

on 3rd July, 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 248

Published By: Self Published Author

Formats Available: Paperback and Ebook

The voyages of Jake Flynn series:

Destiny's Gambit by R.J. WoodBeyond the Moon by R.J. Wood

Destiny’s Gambit | book one

Beyond the Moon | Book Two | synopsis

Genres: Sci-Fantasy | Steampunk | Space Pirates

Young Adult | Magic | Adventure

About R.J. Wood

R.J. Wood

R. J. Wood has been creating stories and adventures for others since 1979. A bard at heart, he trained in Drama (BA) and History (MA) while at university. He currently lives near Snoqualmie Falls in Washington State with his wife and children. There he does a little fishing, some adventuring, and of course, his writing.

Like everyone of my generation and beyond I have been heavily influenced by film. I like to think of my books as movies in my mind. I developed my creative writing through fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal RPGs. My degree in drama helps me with story, characters, and especially dialogue. Having an advanced history degree is excellent for plots and characters, but it also helps me with world building.

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Posted Wednesday, 20 June, 2018 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Family Life, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Literature for Boys, Lola's Blog Tours, Nautical Fiction, Science Fantasy, Self-Published Author, Small Towne USA, Urban Fantasy, Washington, West Coast USA, YA Fantasy

Blog Book Tour | ” Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt A Biological Historical Fiction account of the life of Alma Mahler and how her intense love affair with Gustav Mahler changed her life.

Posted Friday, 18 May, 2018 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

 

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

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “Ecstasy” direct from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this novel about Alma Mahler:

This particular author has a special connection to Jorie Loves A Story – especially in regards to milestones and memories! Whilst I was a 1st Year Book Blogger, I had the pleasure of joy reading Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen} as my debut review for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in November, 2013! The novel introduced me to an enriched version of reading biographies – an introduction that would carry me forward into the wonderful world of what I refer to as ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’; a mainstay of my reading queues! As routed through this category of interest!

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

Whilst during my 3rd Year as a Book Blogger, I had the joy of discovering her prose within The Dark Lady’s Mask (see also Review) and now, as a newly minted 5th Year Book Blogger – I am embarking into my third reading of her collective works with Ecstasy! There is something quite special about the way in which Ms Sharratt approaches her subjects and characters – as I had this to say whilst encountering my last stay inside one of her stories:

I knew I would find the narrative an eloquent historical tome of insight on behalf of what I know of Sharratt’s writings; she fuses so much in such a short expanse of the story, you fully live within their pages. Her narrative has a way of not just transporting you back into the 16th Century but allowing you a bit of grace to flex your mind around what living in the 16th Century would be like from a sensory perception of insight. She taunts what you presume to be true with what is known about the century, giving you much more of a grounded respite than a flowery historical. This felt authentic to the era but also, to how the world would have been viewed during the different stages of Aemilia’s life.

I was caught up in the current of how fluid Ms Sharratt composed this novel and how she worked the story-line through the mind of a poetess. She truly championed the will of a poet and of a creative seeking to find their own way to express their creativity whilst proving that finding one’s way in life isn’t as easily to understand. Ms Sharratt will remain a favourite of mine to read, if only to see how her own mind fashions itself around thought, theory, inspiration and the fragility of where history and time become entwined as one. I will definitely savour the time I spend within The Dark Lady’s Mask the second time I read it, as it is not one you wish to put down in haste!

Only within the chapters of Illuminations did I find myself most akin to reading a different lifestyle than one I could personally relate too. As the elements of The Dark Lady’s Mask had such wonderful overtures of recognition from my favourite Bard, I felt there were portions of the narrative I had a pre-cursory understanding of – as I stepped inside Ecstasy, it was an easier transition by half, as any creative economist who picks up this novel will self-identity with Alma’s strong desire and need to fulfill not only her creative muses but to strike out on her own to develop her creative identity.

As such, this is one text where I found myself attempting to find the right words to articulate my reactions as I found the context of the story to be illuminatingly stimulating in it’s own right to parlay a multitude of thoughts about it’s inner theme, the heart of it’s message and the purpose we all seek as self-directed artists seeking our true selves and the rightful path we must walk in order to embrace the artistry within us which has not yet been revealled. These are the kinds of ruminative thoughts I am appreciative of being challenged to convey – as the writers who write these kinds of stories are digging into something dimensionally deeper than what might first be seen on the surface of their characters’ lives.

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Blog Book Tour | ” Ecstasy” by Mary Sharratt A Biological Historical Fiction account of the life of Alma Mahler and how her intense love affair with Gustav Mahler changed her life.Esctasy
by Mary Sharratt
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era.

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time center stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780544800892

Also by this author: Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen}, The Dark Lady's Mask

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

on 10th April, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 387

Published ByHoughton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo)

Converse via: #EcstasyBlogTour, #AlmaMahler + #HistFic
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook

About Mary Sharratt

Mary Sharratt

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

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Posted Friday, 18 May, 2018 by jorielov in 18th Century, 19th Century, Alma Mahler, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Classical Music | Composers, Composer, Creative Arts, Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Inspired by Stories, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction

Book Review | Series Showcase: The Darling Dahlias by Susan Wittig Albert Novels 1-6-7 feat. the latest release: The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover

Posted Friday, 16 March, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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

Borrowed Book By: I’ve attempted to read the serial fiction offerings by Ms Albert for quite a number of years; I even have a copy of the first novel in the China Bayles series – which I previously attempted to read during #BoutofBooks a few years ago. I haven’t even had the pleasure of picking up the first Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter! I adored reading ‘Loving Eleanor’ and dearly want to continue reading Ms Albert’s Biographical Historical Fiction novels because she has a wonderful gift for etching out the women whose lives she’s focusing on bringing forward into our own awareness of what they endured whilst they were alive.

However, this particular series ‘the Darling Dahlias’ seemed like a good fit for me – mostly as it’s set during the 1930s (one of my favourite eras), is historical in contrast whilst set within a garden club in the rural South. Southern Fiction is one of my favourites to be reading aside from Historical Fiction – this series is a happy compliment to both with a nod towards ‘Cosy Mysteries’ (another beloved of mine!).

Ergo, I decided before I signed on for the blog tour this Spring to see if my local library had the first sixth novels in the series – blessedly they *did!* and I happily selected the first three to arrive together whilst holding off for the next three until I knew I was starting the first half of the series. All of these readings would happily put me in the throes of the series ahead of reading the beautiful ARC which I received for the blog tour on behalf of “The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover” in exchange for an honest review.

I borrowed all the novels in the Darling Dahlias series in hardback edition from my local library. I was not obligated to post a review as I am doing so for my own edification as a reader who loves to share her readerly life. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein for either the books I borrowed at my library or the ARC I received  for review on the blog tour.

Initially, this was my plan of action for reading the Darling Dahlias series – however, in late February, after several weeks of added strife and stress, my family and I ended a five month crisis wherein I felt tremendous relief to have the weight finally off our shoulders. I was going to attempt to read the series little by little rather than in a personal Marathon sprint like I had the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley at the end of January.

Except to say, I had too much on my mind and heart – I ended up having to let the series go back to my library unread except I saved back the first novel and the sixth novel – fearing that despite the fact I had to shorten my readings of the series, I was going to approach this series like I’ve approached reading the Samuel Craddock series: I’ll get a taste for the characters, the setting and the styling of narrative now as the latest release is upon us to celebrate whilst giving myself the grace to realise the rest of the series can wait for me to resume reading it at a latter date.

In regards to Samuel Craddock and my listening of the Cosy Mysteries by Lisa B. Thomas – both of those series are upcoming next on my blog – as I’m digging into the next two I have in-line to finish ahead of the weekend. I look forward to continuing to share my thoughts on these lovelies as similar in vein to the Darling Dahlias, I do fancy a wicked good Cosy time after time! The Craddock series is cosier than hard-boils but for me personally, I’d classify it as ‘dramatic crime fiction’ as it truly speaks to the heart of the series as it’s being written.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBook Review | Series Showcase: The Darling Dahlias by Susan Wittig Albert Novels 1-6-7 feat. the latest release: The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky CloverThe Darling Dahlias series Novels 1-6-7
Subtitle: The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover
by Susan Wittig Albert
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Borrowed from local library

NYT bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert returns to Depression-era Darling, Alabama…​where the ladies of the Dahlias, the local garden club, are happy to dig a little dirt!

In the seventh book of this popular series, it looks like the music has ended for Darling’s favorite barbershop uiquartet, the Lucky Four Clovers—just days before the Dixie Regional Barbershop Competition. Another unlucky break: a serious foul-up in Darling’s telephone system—and not a penny for repairs. And while liquor is legal again, moonshine isn’t. Sheriff Buddy Norris needs a little luck when he goes into Briar Swamp to confront Cypress County’s most notorious bootlegger. What he finds upends his sense of justice.

Once again, Susan Wittig Albert has told a charming story filled with richly human characters who face the Great Depression with courage and grace. She reminds us that friends offer the best of themselves to each other, community is what holds us together, and luck is what you make it.

Bonus features: Liz Lacy’s Garden Gate column on “lucky” plants, plus the Dahlias’ collection of traditional Southern pie recipes and a dash of cookery history. Reading group questions, more recipes, and Depression-era info can be found on the Darling Dahlias website linked in the author's biography on this review.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0996904032

Also by this author: Loving Eleanor

Genres: Amateur Detective, Cosy Historical Mystery, Women's Fiction


Published by Berkley Prime Crime, Persevero Press

on 6th of March, 2018

Format: Hardcover Edition, Paperback ARC

Pages: 280

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Darling Dahlias series:

Published By: Berkley Prime Crime (@BerkleyMystery)

imprint of Berkley Publishing (@BerkleyPub)

via Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom)

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree (Book One)

The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies (Book Two) | Synopsis

The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose (Book Three) | Synopsis

The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star (Book Four) | Synopsis

The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush (Book Five) | Synopsis

The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’ Clock Lady (Book Six) | Synopsis

Published By: Persevero Press
(author directed publishing platform)

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover (Book Seven)

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook, Paperback and Ebook

View a Map of Darling via the official site for the Darling Dahlias series

Converse via: #DarlingDahlias

About Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul’s Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman’s Guide to Success Off the Career Track.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Site for A Wilder Rose
Site for China Bayles series | Site for Darling Dahlias series | Site for the Cottage Tales series
Mystery Novels with her husband
Story Circle

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Posted Friday, 16 March, 2018 by jorielov in 20th Century, Amateur Detective, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, Silver Hair Sleuths, Small Towne USA, the Thirties