Susan Spann – The Ninja’s Daughter [Blog Tour]

susanspann-theninjasdaughterAutumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace–but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

The Ninja’s Daughter is the fourth book in the Shinobi Mystery series and it is a reunion with the regular cast and some of my favourite background characters, such as Ana, Gato, Ginjiro, and Suke. I really enjoyed the previous two books I’ve read in this series, Blade of the Samurai and Flask of the Drunken Master, and I was looking forward to discover what would happen next for Hiro and his charge Father Mateo. What I found in The Ninja’s Daughter was both an interesting murder mystery and a great development of the overarching story.  Read More …

Zen Cho – The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo & The Terracotta Bride

zencho-perilouslifeofjadeyeoFor writer Jade Yeo, the Roaring Twenties are coming in with more of a purr — until she pillories London’s best-known author in a scathing review. Sebastian Hardie is tall, dark and handsome, and more intrigued than annoyed. But if Jade succumbs to temptation, she risks losing her hard-won freedom — and her best chance for love. 

Zen Cho’s novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo isn’t actually an SFF story. In fact, it is a romance told through diary entries. And it is delightful! Set in 1920s London, our main character is a young  Malaysian woman who went to university in Britain and now is trying to make it as a writer. One of her gigs is writing reviews, so that immediately created a connection obviously, but Jade is wonderful in lots of ways. She’s funny, snarky, independent and prepared to defend her independence fiercely.  Read More …

Author Query – Anna Mazzola

annamazzola-theunseeingYesterday I reviewed Anna Mazzola’s amazing debut novel The Unseeing. It’s a powerful story about one of the most notorious cases of early Victorian England. I absolutely adored the book and I was really pleased to be able to ask Anna some questions about it. I hope you enjoy Anna’s answers as much as I did and that you check out The Unseeing. If you’d like to hear an interview with Anna — including a bonus question from yours truly — check out her appearance on the Tea and Jeopardy podcast.

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Let’s start with the basics. Who is Anna Mazzola? 

I’m a debut author, a very small one. My first novel, The Unseeing, came out in July. I also write short stories, look after small children and act as a criminal justice solicitor to people of all sizes.  Read More …

Anna Mazzola – The Unseeing

annamazzola-theunseeingIt is 1837 and the city streets teem with life, atmosphere and the stench of London. Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, has been sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding.

Edmund Fleetwood, an idealistic lawyer, is appointed to investigate Sarah’s petition for mercy and consider whether justice has been done. Struggling with his own demons, he is determined to seek out the truth, yet Sarah refuses to help him. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone with a child would willingly go to their own death?

Criminal injustice is a hot topic these days—from Serial and the various podcasts it inspired, to Making a Murderer, to the stories we see in the news about wrongful convictions or inexplicably light sentencing. But it is certainly not a modern phenomenon and it is one such case that forms the bones for the story told in The Unseeing. Anna Mazzola’s powerful debut novel is set in the year that Queen Victoria ascended the throne and looks at the conviction of a woman for a crime she might not have committed in one of the most infamous cases of the early nineteenth century.  Read More …

Excerpt: William Sutton – Lawless and the Flowers of Sin

Mid Lawless_Flowers of SinLast week I had William Sutton over on the blog for an Author Query about his latest novel Lawless and the Flowers of Sin, among other things, and today I get to share an excerpt from the book with you. I received a review copy earlier in the week, so look out for a review in the near future!

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Molly, chief of the Oddbody Theatrical urchins, investigates the erotic publishers of Holywell Street.  Read More …

Author Query – William Sutton

Mid Lawless_Flowers of SinIn 2013 I read and reviewed William Sutton’s Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square, which I liked a lot. I was looking forward to the next book, Lawless and the Flowers of Sin, but unfortunately due to the publisher closing up shop, its publication was cancelled. So when Titan Books picked up the series I was quite pleased. I’m happy to say that Lawless and the Flowers of Sin is now finally officially out in the world and I look forward to reading what is next for Campbell Lawless. I took the occasion of its publication as an opportunity to ask William some questions about his characters, his research, and his writing.  Read More …

Hallie Rubenhold – The French Lesson

hallierubenhold-thefrenchlessonHenrietta Lightfoot, a young Englishwoman, trips on her silk gown as she runs for her life along the bloodstained streets of revolutionary Paris. She finds refuge in the opulent home of Grace Dalrymple Elliot, the city’s most celebrated courtesan. But heads are rolling, neighbours fear neighbours, and masters whisper before servants.

As the sound of the guillotine echoes outside, within the gilded salons of high society Henrietta becomes a pawn in a vicious power game.

Hallie Rubenhold’s The French Lesson is book two in The Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot. I’d intended to start here, but there seemed to be a conspiracy by the universe to make me read book one too. I really loved Mistress of My Fate and was happy that I could immediately dive into the next book. The French Lesson picks up where Mistress of My Fate ended, with Henrietta searching for Allenham, this time following him to Paris.  Read More …

Hallie Rubenhold – Mistress of My Fate

hallierubenhold-mistressofmyfateEngland, 1789. Under a cloud of scandal, Henrietta Lightfoot flees her home at Melmouth Park. She has little money and no worthwhile talents, for what use is a neat stitch and a pretty voice outside the drawing room? Without family support, her only hope of survival lies with the dashing but elusive Lord Allenham…

In a desperate quest to find him, Henrietta embarks on a journey through London’s debauched and glittering underworld. With the aid of new-found skills at the card table and on the stage, will Henrietta be able to turn her life around to become mistress of her fate?

Sometimes a book is pushed on you by the universe, whether you planned to read it or not. When I was approached about reviewing Hallie Rubenhold’s The French Lesson, I learned that this was the second book in a series, but that it stood alone very well. Thus I agreed and decided that I’d just jump in at book two and skip the first book, Mistress of My Fate, since I didn’t have that one. Somewhere, someone or something had other ideas, because no sooner had I said yes than I got an email from an online retailer offering Mistress of My Fate as part of a sale. I got the message: the universe wanted me to read this book. And with good reason, because apparently it knew I would love the book.  Read More …

Author Query – Kate Forsyth

Rebirth-of-RapunzelI first read Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens in 2013 and I fell in love with the story, its characters and Kate’s writing. Reading her next novel The Wild Girl only strengthened that love. Her previous book, The Beast’s Garden has only been published in Australia (get on that, UK publishers!) and as such I haven’t yet managed to get my hands on a copy, because it’s really expensive to order books from Australia. But I plan on getting my hands on it somehow in the future. All of this goes to say that I was really interested in reading Kate’s non-fiction collection, The Rebirth of Rapunzel, which I reviewed yesterday, and which left me with some questions to ask Kate. Luckily, she’d already agreed to be interviewed and you can find the results below. Can I just say I can’t wait for Beauty in Thorns? It sounds amazing! If you haven’t read Kate’s work before and you love fairytale retellings or historical fiction, I highly recommend checking out her writing.  Read More …

Kate Forsyth – The Rebirth of Rapunzel

Rebirth-of-RapunzelA unique collection presenting Kate Forsyth’s extensive academic research into the ‘Rapunzel’ fairy tale, alongside several other pieces related to fairy tales and folklore.

This book is not your usual reference work, but a complex and engaging exploration of the subject matter, written with Forsyth’s distinctive flair.

I’ve read and loved Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl, though I still need to get onto reading her last novel The Beast’s Garden, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. When The Rebirth of Rapunzel arrived in my inbox I was really excited, since it was the non-fiction component to Forsyth’s MFA of which Bitter Greens was the fiction part. I love learning about the development of stories throughout the ages and The Rebirth of Rapunzel delivered exactly that for the story of the maiden in the tower.  Read More …