Publisher: A Thomas Donne Book

Blog Book Tour | “Death Sits Down to Dinner” the 2nd novel of the Lady Montfort mysteries by Tessa Arlen

Posted Friday, 15 April, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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

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 “Death Sits Down to Dinner” direct from the publisher Minotaur (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Edwardian delight and a note about ‘series in progress’:

Quite a well known fact, I’m mindful of dipping inside a series ‘in-progress’, as I much prefer at the very least read the ‘first story’ in sequence rather than miss the entrance of a lead character outright; however, as fate would have it – this time, my dear local library had a few too many eager readers who were all quite itching to read Death of a Dishonourable Gentleman at the *very same!* hour I was seeking it myself! Remember that ill-fated migraine of mine, from March? Oy. Yes, wells, a bit less than a fortnight before I succumbed to it, I double-checked to see if this title was available and/or if I would need to ILL (inter-library loan) a copy; finding there were no active holds on the title, I smiled and knew I had plenty of time to fetch it.

Never ever second guess when a good time to place a hold on a book – I learnt this lesson – as guess what happened after I recovered from said migraine?! A smidge shy of a dozen readers were all scrambling to read the book, and although I went down to placeholder No.1 it was already too late for me as I was 48 hours away from posting my review! *le sigh* Lesson being? If you find a wicked sweet copy of a book you know you will potentially need to read within the score of a month’s time, throw your name on it! Don’t wait! And, if case your curious – I cast my queue hold to the next in line!

Ergo, similar to how I’ve entered series previously either accidentally or without a time window to fetch the previous books by my library’s services, I shall entertain myself with the ‘second Lady Montfort mystery’ as if I were fashionably late and entering into her parlour with a smashing tale about missing my train and injuring my heel in a vain attempt to catch it before it left the station!

As far as the Edwardian era is concerned, I’ve become properly smitten by it, as you might have curiously peeked a glimpse over whilst reading my thoughts on behalf of Margaret Kaine’s Dangerous Decisions or noticed my outcry of displeasure at the turning of plots on behalf of Downton Abbey via my feeds on Twitter. I was so distraught by Matthew’s death and Anna’s violent attack (sorry if this spoilts it for you, but seriously, how else to explain?) I had to take a long sabbatical from viewing the latter two serials which conclude the saga. I’ve wandered inside the Edwardian years on a few occasions, finding my heart is aflutter for more of this unique era set at the start of the new century, where technology and society were each vying for independence and equal attention.

Technically, one of the Cosy Historical Mystery series I aim to snuggle back inside before year’s end (as I’m planning a bit of a wicked slice of cosy devourment this Summer) is the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander which happily resides on the verge of this era, as it’s set during the last bits of the 19th Century! (see this intriguing interview!) How this series has swelled to include novellas and eleven! novels, I know naught! A handful of years ago when I first set my eyes upon it, only four were published! And, the Lady Darby series I fancy quite equally to Lady Emily are set further ahead of the Edwardian era – which proves I’ve been dancing around the era for quite a long while! Further joy is realising there are going to be five Lady Darby mysteries awaiting my heart soon!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation about Cover Art Design: The moxie it takes to self-assert such a title as ‘death sits down to dinner’ is what drew me into the hive of excitement to read this offering – in combination with the plot, as remember, titles & cover art aside if the plot holds not a wither of a curiosity it’s all art and words at that point! I love the how the designer used the typography to direct your attention the ‘action of the hour’ whilst giving you a fevering glimpse of the locale! This novel begs to be read!

Blog Book Tour | “Death Sits Down to Dinner” the 2nd novel of the Lady Montfort mysteries by Tessa ArlenDeath Sits Down to Dinner
by Tessa Arlen
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Filled with deceptions both real and imagined, Death Sits Down to Dinner is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in London.

Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday. Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs.

Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione’s household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781250052506

Series: Lady Montfort mysteries


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

on 29th March, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 320

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book)
imprints of
St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook

The first Lady Montfort Mystery | Death of a Dishonourable Gentleman (Synopsis)

Converse via: #DeathSitsDownToDinner, #HistoricalMystery & #LadyMontfortMysteries

About Tessa Arlen

Tessa Arlen

TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen.

She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job.

DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN is Tessa’s first novel. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Friday, 15 April, 2016 by jorielov in 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Britian, Canadian Literature, Coming-Of Age, Equality In Literature, Family Life, France, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, History, Inheritance & Identity, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Library Love, Life Shift, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Passionate Researcher, Postal Mail | Letters & Correspondence, the Roaring Twenties, War Drama, Writing Style & Voice

Blog Book Tour | “Flask of the Drunken Master” No.3 of the #ShinobiMysteries by Susan Spann

Posted Monday, 10 August, 2015 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

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

Acquired Book By:

I was offered the chance to be a tour stop on the “Flask of the Drunken Master” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours as I toured with them last year for the second release “Blade of the Samauri”, wherein I was able to receive “Claws of the Cat” in order to best understand the foundation of the Shinobi mystery series. I received a complimentary hardback copy of the “Flask of the Drunken Master” direct from the author Susan Spann, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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 tour through TLC Book Tours that 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 (Blade of the Samurai) blog tour in September 2014! 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. 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.

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 or in private convos. 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.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “Flask of the Drunken Master” No.3 of the #ShinobiMysteries by Susan SpannFlask of the Drunken Master
by Susan Spann
Source: Author via TLC Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

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

Series: Shinobi Mystery, Hiro Hattori


Also in this series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, The Ninja's Daughter


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

Format: Hardcover Edition

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book)
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook

Converse via: #ShinobiMystery#ShinobiMysteries OR #FlaskOfTheDrunkenMaster

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Susan SpannSusan 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.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Returning to the Shinobi Mysteries:

It never fails to surprise me how easily I can dip back inside this world, Ms Spann has created for us to find because between my readings a full year has transitioned forward, and despite my yearnings to re-read through Claws of the Cat and Blade of the Samurai it speaks very highly of the author whose beautiful continuity in shifting us forward into her next installment of Shinobi mysteries can be done with such a deft of grace and honesty; time hasn’t passed at all! The beauty for me truly is seeing how the characters resonate with my mind’s memory of them, and how those transitions back onto the page are bridged so well, as if I truly hadn’t spent any hour apart from where their last adventure together left off! Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Monday, 10 August, 2015 by jorielov in 16th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Mystery, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, TLC Book Tours

Blog Book Tour | Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth a #fairytale re-telling of Rapunzel by #BrothersGrimm

Posted Thursday, 9 October, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , 3 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book)
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Official Author Websites:  Site | Blog @KateForsyth | Facebook

Available Formats: Hardback, Trade Paperback, & Ebook

Converse via: #BitterGreensBlogTour, #Rapunzel, #FairyTale, & #BitterGreens

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Bitter Greens” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I grew up inside the world of fairy-tales like most young children whose imagination is captured by the fantasy worlds a fairy-tale can generate and explode inside their minds and hearts. I did not always read the direct stories from literature, but opted instead for the motion picture versions and/or re-tellings of the same tale told from a different writer; as part of me always felt that the Brothers Grimm fairy-tales were for someone a bit older than I was at the time I had stumbled across them. I did, of course, read stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” or others that were in collection anthologies for children, but I never truly paid any mind or attention to who was writing them as I liked reading each of the short stories in succession of each other. I do know I appreciated Hans Christian Anderson as a child, but I am not sure which of his were my ultimate favourite either; I will have to re-explore his works at some point down the road.

Even if I heard the stories told aloud by family members or watched an adaptation on the screen, the entire world always fit quite happily inside my mind’s eye, as I liked the lessons stitched into the fabric of the stories themselves. I always liked seeing how the characters worked themselves out of situations and found true strength in the midst of difficulty. The fact there were more happy endings than there were unresolved cliffhangers was a big draw as well, as despite the obstacles that arose, it was quite wicked to find they could live peacefully in the end.

One of my favourite adaptations is “Ever After” on behalf of “Cinderella”, although there are a few other adaptations I appreciate as well. I am not remembering which versions of Rapunzel I am familiar with but when I first learnt of this novel, I was attracted to the deeply wrought story as an underlay to the main thread of context for the well-known fairy-tale. I do remember I used to tell different variants of the story whilst I was in elementary school, as it was a bit of a game we used to play at lunch. We were either re-inventing different outcomes for Rapunzel or Rumpelstiltskin; when we weren’t fondly trying to trip each other up remembering our US Presidents with their various nicknames to help clue us to which one was which. Elementary school games were filled with fond memories as it was one of the few times my classmates and I truly came together as one for the pure joy of ‘sharing’ and being full of ‘laughter’.

I did get a kick out of watching “Tangled” which I realise now was a Rapunzel variant of the story, but then again I grew up on Disney animated films; I tend to keep my eye on the releases that remind me of my childhood.

Blog Book Tour | Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth a #fairytale re-telling of Rapunzel by #BrothersGrimmBitter Greens
by Kate Forsyth

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens…

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Also by this author:

Genres: Fairy-Tale Re-Telling, Historical Fiction


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

on 23rd September, 2014 (in the United States)

Pages: 496

Author Biography:

Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.

Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called ‘The Wild Girl’, which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, ‘The Wild Girl’ is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013.

She is probably most famous for ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale interwoven with the dramatic life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. ‘Bitter Greens’ has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’, and has been nominated for a Norma K. Hemming Award, the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Fiction, and a Ditmar Award.

Her most recent book for children is ‘Grumpy Grandpa’, a charming picture book that shows people are not always what they seem.

Since ‘The Witches of Eileanan’ was named a Best First Novel of 1998 by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for numerous awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Chain of Charms series – beginning with ‘The Gypsy Crown’ – which tells of the adventures of two Romany children in the time of the English Civil War. Book 5 of the series, ‘The Lightning Bolt’, was also a CBCA Notable Book.

Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing.

Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On reading a re-telling ahead of an original canon:

I clearly have stepped outside my own preferences in reading this past year, as previously I would attempt to read an original canon version of a story prior to picking up a re-telling of the same story. I have found that due to different reasons time doesn’t always allow the luxury of going back to the canon, but rather only allows me to read the book at hand. On the other side of the coin, there have been a few times where I felt not reading the original work might befit me moreso than if I had, such as the case with Sense & Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale and my forthcoming review of The Monogram Murders (Hercules Poirot). As this particular story is a Brothers Grimm, I was more akin to yearning to read a re-telling than perhaps the original, as I always felt the Grimm brothers wrote stories a bit more intense than I might be drawn to read on a regular basis. At the heart of their stories, I was always wholly entranced but to the actually reading of them? I was always a bit on the fence of where I fit with my inclinations. Realising I had known enough about Rapunzel to insert myself into the flow of the novel, is why I settled myself into the pace Forsyth was generating from the opening of the story and onward. I would be curious if other readers make the same choices I do, or if they have a preference for reading canons prior to after canons; it is such a curious situation to have and I find myself yielding a bit when it comes to where my preferences lie on the issue.

My Review of Bitter Greens:

The Abbey into which Charlotte-Rose de la Force enters has such a strict rule base to follow, that I was curious how she could abide by a quarter of their order’s restrictions when she was entering the convent a free-spirit of the 17th Century. The rules of her day were quite forthright as she was simply another woman cast into an Abbey at the voice of the King, as she was no longer useful nor wanted at Court. The harshness of the sentence was in the fact that most of the women who were forced into this life did not go willingly but rather begrudgingly yet they had little recourse to pursue a different course. In many ways, at the beginning of this novel I started to think back on my reading of Illuminations as the circumstances of being cast into a particular closed off from society insular world was highly familiar. On this level, Bitter Greens is a historical fiction arc of a story set against the back-drop of a biographical fiction narrative, as we are learning about the story of Rapunzel through the writer who gave birth to the idea that has staid with us for generations.

The ache of Mademoiselle’s heart clenched into a tight knot as her new cloister environment did not permit her to continue her writings or her stories from being spilt out of her quill. I was tucked up in curiosity at this revelation to sort out how her story of Rapunzel would come to flourish inside such a stark and dank place where the creative arts were discouraged. It was a bit striking to me that they did not want their sisters to take up a hobby or have a personal vice to keep their own sanity amongst the duties they would endure – so many hours would stack against the clock, and to have a bit of a reprieve in my mind would have settled the heart to endurance.

One particular part of the story I was rather keen on involves beekeeping and the wisdom of knowledge the apothecarist at the convent shares with Charlotte-Rose during a measure of repentance she owes for stepping out of line. Sister Seraphina keeps not only a full garden for her sisters but an active hive, where she cares for her bees with both love and reverence for their culture. I have always appreciated learning more about bees as their struggle to survive is always so very perilous of a plight. Inserting this thread of Sister Seraphina was most delightful, as it spoke to how some of the sisters carved out a bit of peace for themselves even within the walls of a ruled life of order. This was a turning point for me in the story, as I started to feel attached to both characters as warmly as I have felt towards Hildegard.

The origins of Rapunzel are presented as a symphony of a lived life from an era prior to Charlotte-Rose’s own, as told to her by Sister Seraphina whilst they toiled in the garden. What I found so incredible about this bit of traction of where the inspiration for the story of Rapunzel was spun from is how ironic it was for Charlotte-Rose to find herself putting roots into her time at the abbey. She was as indifferent to the life of service as Hildegard (there are a lot of cross-references for me in my mind between both stories!), irked beyond her ire to make peace with her situation, and yet had a bit of a warming glow towards acknowledging that there could be a way towards happiness despite her emotions as a small flicking candle lighting the flame. Her solace was always hinged to stories and the craft of telling stories in a voice that carried the mirth of joy of having them being told. She wandered off into her mind as soon as a measure of shadow and ill will would work itself into her path or affect those she knew around her. The stories were a freedom from reality to help her mind heal from what it did not want to acknowledge as being real as much as to calm her nerves from feeling overwhelmed by something she witnessed or heard. The infusion of how she worked her words into her own creative voice for stories is an outlet of her truest strength. Seeing how this originated and how it percolated at the abbey was the kind of insight that we do not always perceive on behalf of writers of fairy-tales and mythologies. I am not sure how much was based on actual knowledge and how much was creatively inspired, but the notion of where it all stemmed from was beyond fascinating to read in Bitter Greens!

Charlotte-Rose has been given the rarest of gifts: the chance to thread her memories through the spindle of her mind and takeaway insight into how she became the woman she is and how the choices she made affected her future. The tome of wonder you will find within this novel is only one part of the whole of Charlotte-Rose’s life and an expedition of a theory of how she came to fulfill her destiny as a spinning of stories and telling tales full of incredible wisdom. There is a particular surprise for all of us who have travelled down the rabbit hole with Kate Forsyth seeking Rapunzel and finding someone unexpectedly present instead. I felt like smirking when I realised the beauty of Forsyth’s choice and the level of eloquence she stitched into this story overall. I was quite struck by the realisation that from the moment I first opened Bitter Greens to the moment I closed the ARC, I was taken completely unawares and most delighted by the experience!

On the writing style of Kate Forsyth:

Somehow I had forgotten that the novel The Wild Girl was the first novel I had come across by Kate Forsyth at my local library – a book I had checked out a few times yet had not had the honour of reading in full. Forsyth puts dual empathsis on the story of Charlotte-Rose and of Margherita (the inspiration behind Rapunzel) throughout Bitter Greens; owning to each vein of the narrative when writing from one fusion of the story to the other. I found myself drawn closer into the plight of Charlotte-Rose during this reading as I think for me, I found a connection in her that I had discovered whilst reading Hildegard (from Illuminations), and thereby my mind simply alighted onto her path a bit more than Margherita’s at this time. I will have to see after I have the pleasure of reading the Brothers Grimm tale of Rapunzel if I feel more attachment to the passages involving Margherita.

The breadth of her vision for this re-telling is quite impressive, as she didn’t just present a new way of seeing Rupunzel but rather to bridge the gap between the fairy-tale, the reality of two women who truly lived, and the way in which the story has evolved through each generation who fell in sync with it’s telling. She has given us a hearty adaptation whose layers curate in your mind and encourage the reader to take a second reading to fully absolve through the multi-dimensional story in full earnest. I know I will be seeing how my impression of the duality shifts and evolves, but for a first reading I was properly enchanted and spellbound. This is a gutting story-line of perseverance and fortitude whilst dealing with tribulations that no one would soon want to find themselves in the midst of personally.

I do highly recommend that readers might consider reading Illuminations before they read Bitter Greens, as there are instances of overlap between situations found within both stories; for me personally, some of those instances were better understood because I had read Illuminations last year.
Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Bitter Greens Book Trailer via Kate Forsyth

Inspired to Share: The placards and music presented in this impressive book trailer elude to the passages that will be found within the pages of “Bitter Greens”; as this is not your ordinary fairy-tale nor is it a re-telling that you’re expecting to find; the layers of story and of time itself through different eras and recollective memories is what helps enchant you as you read; but it is the sheer vision of Forsyth to spin the tale as only she could give it life that stays with you. Consider this trailer a bit of a ‘teaser’ of what the novel will yield!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com
The Virtual Road Map for “Bitter Greens” can be found here:

Bitter Greens Virtual Tour with HFVBTs

Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:
I will be hosting an Author Interview with Kate Foryth on this blog tour as well. 

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

 on my Bookish Events page!
This blog tour is also highlighting the:

Historical Novel Society

A society that I hope to one day join myself as I love their content & focus on Historical Fiction. I appreciate being able to use their badge in my blog’s sidebar to promote awareness of their efforts to spotlight emerging talent inside the genre & for providing amazing ways to become integrated into the mission of supporting today’s historical authors who write such convicting narratives and stories. For the moment I support from afar but I always love alighting on their site and seeing what is new & forthcoming. They even host live events & get togethers!
I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, kindly know that I appreciate each thought you want to share with me and all the posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary! Short or long, I appreciate the time you spent to leave behind a note of your visit! Return again soon! 
{SOURCES: Cover art of “Bitter Greens”, book synopsis, author photograph of Kate Forsyth, author biography, and the tour host badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. The book trailer for “Bitter Greens” via Kate Forsyth 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 more about this novel and the author who penned it. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Historical Novel Society badge was used with permission; as book bloggers are encouraged to promote the Society on their blogs.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “Bitter Greens”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

Comments on Twitter:

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Posted Thursday, 9 October, 2014 by jorielov in 17th Century, Apiculture, Apothecary, ARC | Galley Copy, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Catholicism, Charlotte-Rose de la Force, Domestic Violence, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Honeybees, Nun, Religious Orders, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Widows & Widowers

+Blog Book Tour+ A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable : A #histfic narrative wrapped up in the mystery of art & antiques

Posted Sunday, 5 October, 2014 by jorielov , , , 6 Comments

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A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book)
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Official Author Websites:  Site @MGableWriter | Facebook

Available Formats: Hardback, Ebook

Converse via: #AParisApartment & #FranceBT

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “A Paris Apartment” virtual book tour through France Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

Somewhere in my wanderings on Twitter recently in the bookish realms I frequent, this particular novel came up in a conversation! Then, if I am remembering correctly it was broached in the book blogosphere (of which I am also a participant), so you could say, my interest has become piqued!
I believe I also came across this book not just in Shelf Awareness but on another bookish site recently, as I remember my musings when I first read the premise! To take a real-life mystery and purport it into a fiction telling of ‘what could have been’ I think was a smashing idea on your behalf! I love when writers dig into the realm between fact & fiction, as much as a mystery which involves around art and antiques. Within the silence and the hours in-between what is known and what needs to be found is good folly for a story to inhabit as it allows your lead character to grow and seek what they are intuitively striving to locate as well.

As you can gather from my initial reactions on behalf of A Paris Apartment, I was quite excited about the prospect of not only reading the story but in the realisation of what the story involves! I had contacted the author directly in April of 2014 as there was a bookaway through Shelf Awareness inasmuch as she was visiting #LitChat for a bookish topical discussion that I was quite keen on attending. This was one of those rare moments where everything felt as thought it were set to rights and serendipitously aligning to work out quite well. I have appreciated each and every writer I have become introduced too through #LitChat, as much as I appreciate the ability to write personal notes to the authors who host bookaways through Shelf Awareness, as I love making personal connections to the writers I am finding myself encouraged to read. It brings the book industry closer to home and it allows the writers to get to know their readers a bit as far as who is keen to see their books in print and who is itching to read them once they are released. I find it to be quite the lovely circle of positivity and creative acceptance of the living arts.

What struck me the most about this particular novel is how remarkable the backstory set within its perimeters truly sounded as you delve into the make-up of the circumstances of the ‘apartment’ in question. Or rather, I ought to be saying ‘the flat’ in question!

My singular regret is that I had to postpone my tour stop until I recovered from a horrid stomach flu and by having the hours dissolved off the clock, I had to forfeit my opportunity to interview the author. I was so chuffed it had worked out I could interview her and then, as the fates so happened to align I missed the chance afterall.

+Blog Book Tour+ A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable : A #histfic narrative wrapped up in the mystery of art & antiquesA Paris Apartment
by Michelle Gable
Source: Author via France Book Tours

THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER!

Bienvenue à Paris!

When April Vogt’s boss tells her about an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been discovered after being shuttered for the past seventy years, the Sotheby’s continental furniture specialist does not hear the words “dust” or “rats” or “decrepit.” She hears Paris. She hears escape.

Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder’s repository. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there’s a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April’s quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It’s about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.

It’s about discovering two women, actually.

With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan’s private diaries, April tries to uncover the many secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into Marthe’s life, April can’t help but take a deeper look into her own. Having left behind in the States a cheating husband, a family crisis about to erupt, and a career she’s been using as the crutch to simply get by, she feels compelled to sort out her own life too. When the things she left bubbling back home begin to boil over, and Parisian delicacies beyond flaky pâtisseries tempt her better judgment, April knows that both she and Marthe deserve happy finales.

Whether accompanied by croissants or champagne, this delectable debut novel depicts the Paris of the Belle Epoque and the present day with vibrant and stunning allure. Based on historical events, Michelle Gable’s A Paris Apartment will entertain and inspire, as readers embrace the struggles and successes of two very unforgettable women.

Read about Marthe de Florian

Places to find the book:

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

on 22nd April, 2014

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 384

Author Biography:

Michelle Gable

Michelle Gable is a writer and also a mom, wife, financial executive, sports-obsessed maniac (Go Chargers! Go Aztecs!), Southern California native, barre class fiend, tennis player, and card-carrying member of the Chickasaw Nation.

She grew up in sunny San Diego and attended The College of William & Mary, where she majored in accounting as most aspiring writers do. Throughout a career that started in public accounting and then moved to private equity, then investment banking, and ultimately to the head of FP&A for a publicly-traded software company, Michelle continued to write. And write and write. Her first novel {A Paris Apartment}was released on April 22, 2014, her second scheduled for Spring 2016.

Michelle currently resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.

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A catacomb cache of antiquity and art:

As we first cross the threshold of a locked away apartment in a section of Paris which begets instant recognisation, we step properly inside April’s shoes — seeing everything her eyes drink in and with a deep appreciation for finding items of art once thought to either be lost or nonexistent altogether. As I lamented on my ruminations on behalf of Lost in Thought, I have always been a bit piqued in apt fascination for the history of antiques and the items from estates cast back into the world via emporiums and boutiques where everyone can find something they fancy to collect or gather for their own homes. There is a particular keen attraction to having a sense of a living legacy of a singular life attached to the item, as a vehicle of immortality in the sense that someone’s essence was entwined with the piece. Touch is a sense most convicting for our sensory perceptions – it allows us a tangible connection to what cannot be seen but rather felt and thereby internalised on a deeper level of awareness. There was a true catacomb cache of antiquity and art held within the walls of the apartment time and history were kept unawares in knowing about; and within that cache held a curiosity of a person not easily understood nor quenched once her life was brought out into the open.

My Review of A Paris Apartment:

As soon as April mentioned being in need of ‘catching a redeye’ my mind flickered backwards into my own past whereupon I stranded myself in the Pacific Northwest simply due to a mild curiosity over controlled rock climbing walls & a certain outdoors expedition store called REI. I daresay I was always an adventurous lass, but to forfeit my return flight and had to opt instead for the redeye — wells, there are times where I question my own sanity! My reverie continued whilst observing her ‘techniques’ to pinch out every spare inch of her suitcase for ‘necessities’ she’d need on her holiday; the memories of my own ingenuity of achieving the same impossible task left me inside of a smirk!

April’s fragmented life is in a reckless disarray filt with disillusion and an honest sense of being caught in flux; betwixt the present and the future whilst unresolved about the past. Her life is a fitting juxtaposition to the apartment by which she is hired to sort and recover what has been left behind to be found. Her emotional health is a frayed rope of nerves, and whilst she finds herself drawn into the legacy of Boldini and of Madame Florian, it nearly felt as though she were searching for a resounding clarity that would give credence and enlightenment to her own life.

The time shift sequences giving us a jolt of Madame de Florian’s life as she transcribed it down into her diaries was a rare and exquisite treat. Yet one of the surprising twists of everyday life for me in the modern area of the story, is when it was disclosed that dog walkers do not pick up after their animals have taken care of business. It is a well-known fact that no one can walk their dogs (or in some rare cases their cats) without the courtesy of removing what is left behind for someone not to unexpectedly walk through it. I had no idea that Paris has a problem similar to Venice as far as a stench of foulness emitting out of a situation that is containable. It gives a new dimension of awareness I had not yet stumbled across and had me left wondering how you can truly appreciate walking the streets if there are more little ‘surprises’ to be found along the sidewalks? I agree with April on this note on how indifferent it would be to have the joy of being in the city replaced by a bit of furrowed discontempt of such an everyday difference of living.

I felt the energy of the first half of the novel started to muddle towards the middle bits, as April’s suspicious nature towards her husband’s past infidelity was starting to grow a bit old as the old ‘dialogue’ continued to play out. I think it would have been best if she had been more honest with herself that she had already taken an exit out of her marriage. Although, truth to life, perhaps she was not yet aware of what she wanted and thereby had this disconnection growing larger between her and her husband simply due to distance and lack of direction to take next. Even Madame de Florian took a bit of a backseat, and the joy of the art discovered in the apartment ended up being bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape. The further I read into the story, the more crude the humour ended up becoming or rather the more crude the direct references were to the story’s internal threads. I was a bit aghast to find this happening, as foresaid the beginning had such a sprite of energy and sophistication, and watching everything start to derail before my eyes was not something I enjoyed. If I were to be honest, it felt as though there were two halves of a whole and they were not equally connected.

The cheeky humour and the intricacies of Michelle Gable’s writing style:

Gable has an intrinsic method of revealing the well-established stigmas attached to Americans whilst on holiday in France as much as she has a clairvoyant way of using cheeky humour to establish the short tolerance Americans feel in return. The French have always had a certain level of discontempt for Americans, as even I have found this to be threaded through conversations during intermittent connections I’ve had with them, yet what always struck me the most off-character about the whole absurdity of this tension between the countries is how genuine Americans love France and everything most decidedly French! And, for those of us who are of French descent directly, it is a curious stone to overturn. I honestly believe this is due to a disconnection between us: a break down in communication or at the very least an understanding of our different personalities and perceptions of how we live our lives.

Gable allows her American and French characters to respond and react within the perimeters of this well-established awareness between the two cultural divides, yet she always attempts to step out of the stigma and re-align a sense of forward progression.

Fly in the Ointment:

I am not sure why I felt I was awaiting the shoe to drop but call it reader intuition as I had a stirring sense of knowledge the strongest of words would start to trickle out into the enriched descriptive narrative like water snaking out of a busted drain. And, rather unsatisfying to me, of course by page 45 we had to see reveal the one word I despise amongst all others flaunted on display. I truly have yet to find a reason for such inclusions, but on this particular novel’s behalf what felt even more flat is the layers of depth Gable gave to her descriptions. She breathes words which are not regularly found in Contemporary nor Historical Contemporary Fiction, and somehow the additions of vulgarity felt as though she were depreciating the level of sophistication she started the novel off with at the beginning. In the same sense where April felt vexed when a causal touch or disrespect for the pieces in the apartment were being unceremoniously contaminated by carelessness. These strong words can be blinked out of today’s fiction for my own sake of sanity, as when I find wicked quality on behalf of the story-teller I am walking a line betwixt wanting to recommend the work for the level of literary quality vs shirking away from realising the recommendation is on a work that is inclusive of language I cannot fathom needing being included. I am as indecisive of knowing how best to augment my final thoughts as I had been after concluding “I Shall Be Near to You”. I wish I could say the saving grace within this particular tome of narrative voice is that the vulgarity was as intermittent as a wayward fly at a baseball game, however, they were bent on making such striking appearances as to remind me why I do not appreciate the surge in love bugs during Autumn! The annoyance level is always on extreme high as try as you might you cannot outwit a love bug deluge.

On a separate note, I felt the French words writ straight into the dialogue sequences would have felt more second nature to the reader if there were (translated English words) running counterpoint to the French. I positively love when language is used as a vocal representation of setting and of a time of era, yet when all I have is a language opposite of the one I natively speak, all I can do at best is give a smile of a nod to the words themselves without a proper sense of what is actually being said. As a for instance, if one wanted to say “Autumn is such a proper renewal of spirited joy after a languishing of Summer.” Why not write it like this: (or a variant therein)

"L'automne est un tel renouvellement correct de joie vive après une langueur de l'été."  (Autumn is such a proper renewal of spirited joy after a languishing of Summer.)  she expressed in full measure of unexpected happiness.

I used an online French / English Translation app and thereby am not responsible if the French to English has acceptable loss of error. I simply wanted to convey how frustrated I felt whilst caught up in the French expressions without an English translation in-text. This is not a quote from the novel either – I crafted the entire exchange on the fly so to speak.

I also noted that whenever we were re-visiting Madame de Florian’s life through her diary of letters, the language of English she used was American rather than British, and that was a unique observation for me. I realise most works of American novels in historical fiction do not encompass British English in preference of historical accuracy but I am always struck at a loss to understand why they do not? She wouldn’t be using the spelling of ‘endeavor’ for instance as she would have writ it as ‘endeavour’. It is almost as though the historical points of view are translated yet the language bits are not; a bit of a wench in the wheel to me.

I would have given a celebratory nod of realism had the modern bits [focused on April] had solidified her speaking vernacular of American English with French in-text translations of English; fused counter-current with Madame de Florian’s diaries writ in British English with overlays of French (with in-text translations as well).

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 Read an Excerpt of the Novel:
{Provided by Issuu.com}

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Virtual Road Map for “A Paris Apartment” Blog Tour:

A Paris Apartment Blog Tour via France Book Tours

A special notation at the end of my post is dedicated to the writers like Ms. Gable & Ms. Alexander (of Dare to Kiss who supports a PTSD charity), who give proceeds of their novels to charity, in this particular instance Ms. Gable has a rotation of charitable organisations she is contributing towards each month there are net proceeds from A Paris Apartment. I found the list on her website and have linked the charities for easy reference to click-through & discover more about each of them.

MAY: The Chloe Nichols Foundation
JUNE: Wounded Warrior Project
JULY: Monarch School (San Diego)
AUGUST: Help4HD International
SEPTEMBER: Safe Horizon

I have been supporting the Wounded Warrior Project in small ways and one day hope to strengthen my support to make a larger impact, as I find it a difficult pill to swallow that we are not taking care of our returning servicemen & women. The crisis of our Veterans is knitted close to my heart and it is an on-going mission of mine to help find ways to improve their lives; not only through this charity but the outreach Hire Heroes USA as well. I have been supporting the troops through Soldiers’ Angels since 2011. I was hoping to find an organisation and/or charity that would help the homeless stand stronger and put their lives together through positive hope and obtainable goals; seeking a footprint towards a stronger future. I am blessed to have found the Monarch School on this list as I think this is a concept that needs to be taken nationwide. Likewise, through the 8 years I devouted to watching Law & Order in my twenties, I became especially keen on the charity of Mariska Hargitay : The Joyful Heart Foundation. As much as watching the mission behind No More flourish and take root. Women have always been rock solid innovators, and every step of the way the more we all choose to reach out to those in need of assistance, empathy, hope, and a bit of joy — we endeavour our own spirits to be lifted up in universal love.
Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBe sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

France Book Tours

 on my Bookish Events page!

Please take note of the Related Articles as they were hand selected due to being of cross-reference importance in relation to this book review. This applies to each post on my blog where you see Related Articles underneath the post. Be sure to take a moment to acknowledge the further readings which are offered.

I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, kindly know that I appreciate each thought you want to share with me and all the posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary! Short or long, I appreciate the time you spent to leave behind a note of your visit! Return again soon! 
{SOURCES: Cover art of “A Paris Apartment”, book synopsis, author photograph of Michelle Gable, author biography, and the tour host badge were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. The Excerpt of “A Paris Apartment’ on Issuu 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 more about this novel and the author who penned it. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. France Book Tours badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

The Complete Works of Giovanni Boldini – (giovanniboldini.org)

Madame de Florian’s Abandoned Apartment – (anothermag.com)

House Tour the Secret Paris Apartment of Madame De Florian – (blog.decoratorsnotebook.co.uk)

Suspended in Time – (blogofthecourtier.com)

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “A Paris Apartment”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

Comments on Twitter:

The best blessing for me tonight as I read A Paris Apartment is the beautiful happenstance conversation I had with a British Historical fiction author, Ms. McGrath who is a close personal friend to two lovely story-tellers I have not only featured on Jorie Loves A Story but cannot stop talking about their stories to anyone who fancies the same types of narratives as I do! I am referring to Ms. Liz Harris (A Bargain Struck & The Road Back) and Ms. Jenny Barden (The Lost Duchess). Our conversation is inside my feeds on Twitter as I stopped copying them over as they became our own convo independent of Ms. Gable’s novel. I was wicked happy in another regard – now that I have my landing page set up, I can start commenting once more on the English Historical Fiction Author’s Blog as oft as I can the Heroes, Heroines, & History Blog! Champion! All is never quite as lost as we first fear!
I truly believe in what I tweeted just shy of 2am:

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Posted Sunday, 5 October, 2014 by jorielov in 21st Century, Adulterous Affair, Antiques, Art History, Artwork Provenance, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Clever Turns of Phrase, Courtesan & Cocottes, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Disillusionment in Marriage, Fly in the Ointment, France, France Book Tours, French Literature, Geographically Specific, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Madame de Florian, Passionate Researcher, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Shelf Awareness, Spontaneous Convos Inspired by Book, Time Shift, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

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