Tagged: m.j. rose

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

the-secret-language-of-stones-by-m-j-rose

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family.

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. It was supposed to be for a tour but I didn’t get it done in time.]

I’ve only read two other books by M.J. Rose but what always strikes me about her books is that she has such a beautiful writing style. It’s descriptive and yet fascinating. She can describe things like stones in minute detail and yet you never find yourself skipping over the descriptions to get to the action. She really just has a beautiful writing style that grabs your attention and holds it for the whole book. It’s what makes finishing the book so disappointing. It’s not that M.J. Rose’s endings are terrible or anything like that, but rather it’s that I hate coming back to the real world after such beautiful writing.

With that said, what I like about this book is that while Opaline is Sandrine’s daughter and thus the daughter of a woman who practices dark magic (and allowed the spirit of her ancestor to possess her in the first book) but she despises dark magic. She feels magic call to her from the stones but resists praticing magic for fear of turning out like her mother or, worse yet, La Lune herself. And yet she’s having trouble controlling her natural powers and they almost get out of hand and destroy her before Opaline realizes she has to embrace her heritage in order to save herself. She clearly struggles with ethical dilemmas and fears the call of the dead from the stones but in the end, Opaline really does want to do what’s right.

M.J. Rose handles both characters and descriptions well but what struck me about this second book in the series is the politics. More so than in The Witch of Painted Sorrows, the political situation is ever-present. She really captures the feel of World War I, the fact that life was both normal and not normal. Normal business went on as much as it could but the war touched everyone: jewellers made mourning jewellery instead of fancier necklaces and tiaras, certain foods were hard to find and almost an entire generation of young men was wiped out. And of course, things weren’t just bad in France. As Opaline finds out when she creates a necklace for the dowager empress of the Romanov family, even innocent children aren’t safe from the war and its effects.

I liked both The Witch of Painted Sorrows and The Secret Language of Stones. While the stories of Sandrine and Opaline are different, they do have some similarities that connect the two books together in a satisfying way. Although I’ll have to say goodbye to Opaline, I can’t wait for the next book, The Library of Light and Shadow, which is coming out in July 2017. The Daughters of La Lune series is fantastic and I can’t wait to spend more time in M.J. Rose’s beautiful, enchanting world.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Spotlight: The Secret Language of Stones by M. J. Rose

The Secret Language of Stones by M. J. Rose

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 320 Pages
Series: The Daughters of La Lune, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
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As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

A spellbinding ghost story that communicates the power of love and redemption through Rose’s extraordinary, magical lens.” (Alyson Richman, internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife)

 

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About the Author

M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.

Connect with M.J. Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 12
Review at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight at The Mad Reviewer
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, July 13
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 14
Spotlight at Teddy Rose Book Reviews

Friday, July 15
Review at A Dream within a Dream

Monday, July 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 19
Review at First Impressions Reviews

Wednesday, July 20
Review at Laura’s Interests

Thursday, July 21
Review at Read Love Blog

Friday, July 22
Review at Nerd in New York
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Monday, July 25
Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 26
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, July 27
Interview at First Impressions Reviews

Thursday, July 28
Review at Creating Herstory

Friday, July 29
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Monday, August 1
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, August 2
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, August 3
Review at Diana’s Book Reviews

Thursday, August 4
Interview at Diana’s Book Reviews

Friday, August 5
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, August 9
Review at Worth Getting in Bed For

Wednesday, August 10
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, August 11
Review at Girls Just Reading

Friday, August 12
Review at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, August 15
Review at Fangirls Ahead!

Tuesday, August 16
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review at The True Book Addict

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M. J. Rose

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M. J. Rose(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Possession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M. J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.

Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love, and witchery.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

A while back in May 2014 I was on the blog tour for M. J. Rose’s book The Collector of Dying Breaths and I absolutely loved it.  The characters were fantastic, the writing was so beautiful it was hard to describe and the plot twisted and turned so much that I just had to keep reading.  Needless to say I had high expectations for this stand-alone novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

My high expectations were absolutely exceeded and this book is one of the rare cases where the cover is just as good as the actual content.  It gives away the atmosphere of the novel just wonderfully: beautiful but haunting.  It’s so rare that an author can keep that atmosphere up throughout the novel even if it’s only in the background during some scenes but M. J. Rose certainly managed to do that.  Throughout Sandrine’s journey we experience her hopes, her joys and her sorrows as her life in Paris goes from fairly regular to extraordinary.  I’m not generally a fan of Gothic novels in part because few authors can keep up the haunted atmosphere but Rose definitely did.  Through her beautifully descriptive writing I experienced everything from the bustling streets of Paris to the hidden corners of an ancient and seemingly cursed house.  I know I keep using the word beautiful to describe her writing, but there really is no other word that does it justice.  She’s able to evoke complex emotions in the simplest of phrases, to appeal to all your senses at once, particularly smell.  I can honestly say that I’ve never had an author describe things so vividly before.

Sandrine is a wonderful main character.  At first she’s a lonely woman escaping a loveless marriage and the knowledge that her father’s death was the fault of her hated husband.  She’s lived a life of immense privilege but has never really known happiness until she comes to Paris to reconnect with her grandmother, a famous courtesan.  When she meets her grandmother’s architect Julien and discovers that her grandmother intends to turn the Maison de la Lune into a mere tourist attraction, things start to get weird.  First she discovers that she’s actually attracted to Julien and possibly even loves him, something she’s never experienced before in her entire life.  Second, her grandmother starts acting weird when she learns that Sandrine is spending her time at La Lune’s house and tries to nip her growing attraction to Julien in the bud.  Then, when Sandrine discovers the secret room in the maison, the tension starts to ratchet up in ever increasing notches.  Throughout the novel Sandrine really grows as a character but when she discovers the secret of La Lune she really comes into her own, bucking society’s expectations of her spectacularly and asserting her independence.  But there’s of course a more sinister reason behind Sandrine’s personality change that starts to spiral out of control as Sandrine spends more and more time in the secret room with La Lune’s paintings.

Simply put, The Witch of Painted Sorrows is a book you’ll never really be able to put down until you finish it.  Not only does M. J. Rose know how to keep up the Gothic novel atmosphere, she also knows how to slowly introduce tension and gradually increase it until you’re unable to put the book down.  You’ll think to yourself: “one more chapter, just one more” and then it’ll be three in the morning and you’re just finishing the book twenty chapters later.  It’s incredibly hard to put down not only because her pacing is good and the suspense is constant but because the plot twists and turns quite spectacularly.  Just when you think you know what’s going to happen in the end, Rose puts another twist in the plot.  By the last few chapters I was fairly certain what the ending was going to be but the rest of the book was fairly unpredictable and I have to give her credit for that.

Basically, this novel will suck you in and not let you go until you’ve finished.  You’ll be drawn in by the suspense and the beautiful writing but it’s the fantastic and dynamic characters that will keep you reading on into the early morning hours.  It’s hard not to fall in love with a novel like this, that’s for sure.  And that’s also why I can’t recommend this book highly enough: if the blurb has in any way intrigued you, go and buy the book on March 17 of this year.  You won’t regret it.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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The Collector of Dying Breaths by M. J. Rose

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M. J. Rose(Cover picture courtesy of BandelierGirlReadsEverything.)

In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.

But it’s René other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.

Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.

Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon.

[Full disclosure: I was provided a free ebook through NetGalley for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

If I had to describe The Collector of Dying Breaths in just one word it would have to be ‘beautiful.’  Yes, beautiful.

Beautiful is the word that comes to mind simply because M. J. Rose’s writing style is just that.  It’s descriptive, but not overly so.  It’s very heavily focused on appealing to the reader’s five senses.  Since this is a novel heavily centred around perfume of course she describes the scents in pretty much every scene, but she also doesn’t neglect the reader’s ears or sense of touch.  Very few writers can appeal to all five of the senses in a natural way but M. J. Rose stands out in this respect.

As with most books, the one element I liked most was the characters.  René le Florentine really spoke to me as a character and through the flashbacks I felt his triumphs and his greatest sorrows.  He really is a tragic character and although he tries to do the right thing, it seems like it always turns out badly for him.  I can’t tell you much more about poor René without having too many spoilers but I can tell you that by the end of the novel your heart will ache for him.

Jac is an interesting character as well.  Having lost her beloved brother and seeing an opportunity to complete his life’s work, she’s in a state of emotional confusion.  Added to that are her constant past life memories that are triggered by being around objects and locations with so much history.  I liked slowly learning her back-story and seeing how she coped with both her brother’s death and the return of her former lover.  She changes throughout the course of the novel and I was very happy with her decision in the end.

The plot is not fast-paced by most people’s standards but The Collector of Dying Breaths is interesting enough to keep you reading into the early morning hours.  The plot twists and turns as you try to learn what happened to the unfortunate René and whether Jac could complete her brother’s work or not.  These point of view shifts never really slow down the action in the story, though.  Instead, they add more tension as the past and present collide, culminating in a heart-pounding climax.

If you like history, romance or just books with well fleshed-out characters, you’re going to love The Collector of Dying Breaths.  I can’t speak to its historical accuracy as I know very little about the period, but I guarantee that you’ll feel like you’re right there along with René in the court of Catherine de Medici.

This is the 6th book in The Reincarnationist series by M. J. Rose but it can absolutely be read as a standalone novel, which is how I read it.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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