Tagged: world war i

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.

Amazon Barnes and Noble Goodreads

Book Blast: Lies Told in Silence by M. K. Tod

02_Lies Told in Silence CoverPublication Date: June 29, 2014
Tod Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

Add to GR Button

In 1914 Paris half the city expects war while the other half scoffs at the possibility.

With knowledge gained from his role at the War Department, Henri Noisette fears that Germany may soon attack Paris. He therefore sends his wife, mother and two younger children to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. By late 1914, instead of a safe haven, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front.

As war unfolds, Henri’s daughter, Helene, grows up quickly and in 1917 falls in love with Edward Jamieson, a young Canadian soldier.

The novel examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice and the unexpected consequence of lies.

Praise for Lies Told in Silence

‘Dramatically depicts the horror and heartbreak of war, while also celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.’ – SHARON KAY PENMAN author of A King?s Ransom

‘An intricate, well-researched novel of life forever changed by WWI yet still sweet with the tender innocence of the age.’ – DONNA RUSSO MORIN author of The King’s Agent

‘M.K. Tod is a powerful new voice in the historical fiction genre.’ – AMY BRUNO Historical fiction blogger at Passages to the Past

‘An absorbing and rewarding historical read .. depicting the ruinous impact of war on human lives across the generations.’ – MARGARET EVANS PORTER author of The Proposal

‘A compelling read right up to its taut page-turning ending.’ – RICHARD LEE founder of the Historical Novel Society

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author03_M.K. Tod

M.K. Tod has enjoyed a passion for historical novels that began in her early teenage years immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. During her twenties, armed with Mathematics and Computer Science degrees, she embarked on a career in technology and consulting continuing to read historical fiction in the tiny snippets of time available to working women with children to raise.

In 2004, she moved to Hong Kong with her husband and no job. To keep busy Mary decided to research her grandfather’s part in the Great War. What began as an effort to understand her grandparents’ lives blossomed into a full time occupation as a writer. Her debut novel is UNRAVELLED: Two wars, Two affairs. One Marriage. LIES TOLD IN SILENCE, her second novel, is set in WWI France and tells the story of Helene Noisette who featured in Unravelled. Mary has an active blog – www.awriterofhistory.com – which discusses all aspects of historical fiction and includes author and reader interviews. Additionally, she is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Mary lives in Toronto where she is happily married with two adult children.

Connect with M.K. Tod on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Lies Told in Silence Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 28
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

Tuesday, July 29
Review at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Book Babe
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at Mel’s Shelves

Wednesday, July 30
Review at Bookish
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 31
Book Blast at Royalty Free Fiction

Friday, August 1
Book Blast at Back Porchervations
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Saturday, August 2
Book Blast at Mythical Books

Monday, August 4
Review & Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Tuesday, August 5
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Thursday, August 7
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Book Blast at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, August 8
Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court

Monday, August 11
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Book Blast at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Book Blast at The Bookworm

Wednesday, August 13
Review at The Writing Desk

Thursday, August 14
Book Blast at Words and Peace
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, August 15
Review at Lost in Books
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer

Sunday, August 17
Book Blast at Brooke Blogs

Monday, August 18
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Review at Historical Fiction Notebook

Giveaway

To win a copy of M.K. Tod’s Lies Told In Silence please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally!

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 19th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 photo 0739464c-670b-4fd2-87af-2b2ad8119519.png

The Curse of Malenfer Manor by Iain McChesney

The Curse of Malenfer Manor by Iain McChesney(Cover picture courtesy of Bewitching Book Tours.)

Those in line to the Malenfer estate are succumbing to terrible ends – is a supernatural legacy at work, or something entirely more human?

Young Irish mercenary Dermot Ward retreats to Paris at the close of World War I where he drinks to forget his experiences, especially the death of his comrade, Arthur Malenfer. But Arthur has not forgotten Dermot. Dead but not departed, Arthur has unfinished business and needs the help of the living.

Upon his arrival at Malenfer Manor, Dermot finds himself embroiled in a mystery of murder, succession, and ambition. Dermot falls in love with the youngest Malenfer, the beautiful fey Simonne, but in his way are Simonne’s mismatched fiancé, her own connections to the spirit world, Dermot’s guilt over the circumstances of Arthur’s death… and the curse.

[Full disclosure: I received an invitation to read this book through NetGalley from the publisher and accepted the free eARC in exchange for an honest review.]

There are so many things to love about The Curse of Malenfer Manor but the main thing I loved was the writing itself.  Iain McChesney has such an authentic style that I truly felt like I was reading a novel from that time period.  There are no noticeable anachronisms and I suppose you could call the vocabulary ‘advanced’, but that all comes together to create that authentic, post-war atmosphere.  This writing style especially stands out when we actually get to Malenfer manor, a manor that seems stuck in the days of lords and tenants.  It creates an eerie atmosphere that completely suits the subject matter of the novel.

My second favourite thing was the characters.  How could I not fall in love with Dermot?  He carries his guilt over Arthur’s death with him, has a hard time accepting that Arthur came back to him as a ghost, falls in love with the beautiful Simonne and all the while is trying to discover the mystery behind the Malenfer curse.  He has a lot of internal conflict to go along with the external conflict and that’s what made him such a memorable character for me.  Arthur himself was quite the character as well and it’s a testament to Iain McChesney’s writing ability that although he was such a great character, he never outshone Dermot, the main character.

The plot starts out slowly enough, but when Arthur’s ghost shows up and we learn of his backstory with Dermot things really start to get interesting.  And when the two friends arrive at Malenfer manor, it took all my will power to put my Kindle down and go to sleep.  The Curse of Malenfer Manor is something you’ll want to read in one sitting in one sitting, believe me.  The plot keeps twisting and turning and by the end you’re not sure if the curse really exists or if it’s something more man-made.  Iain McChesney is truly a master of suspense.

Even if you don’t like traditional mystery stories, I’d have to recommend The Curse of Malenfer Manor.  If you do like historical fiction, romance and/or supernatural elements in your novels, you should read this book.  Give it a try; you won’t regret it.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Goodreads

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

(Cover picture courtesy of And the plot thickens…)

Alek is a prince without a throne.  On the run from his own people he has only a fighting machine and a small band of men.

Deryn is a girl disguised as a guy in the British Air Service.  She must fight for her cause—and protect her secret—at all costs.

Alek and Deryn are thrown together aboard the mighty airship Leviathan.  Though fighting side by side, their worlds are far apart.  British fabricated beasts versus German steam-powered war machines.  They are enemies with everything to lose, yet somehow destined to be together.

Although it’s surprising considering how much I read, this was my first-ever encounter with steampunk.  I like alternate history and I like speculative fiction (which is what steampunk is generally a combination of), but I’m not really sure I like steampunk.  Perhaps it’s simply because I didn’t pick up the right book, but at the time I’m writing this, my feelings about the sub-genre are mixed.

As with all of his novels, Scott Westerfeld has wonderful world-building.  The strange animal-machines of the Darwinists offer a very stark contrast to the iron and steel of the Clankers.  He also took time to develop slang for the world, which is confusing at first but adds a lot more realism to this alternate 1914 Europe once you get used to it.  Of course the wonderful illustrations by Keith Thompson deserve a lot of credit for bringing Scott Westerfeld’s bizarre world to life.

The plot speeds along, taking readers on a whirlwind journey.  It’s rather disorienting at first, but readers are able to quickly get up to speed.  This is the kind of book you can’t stop once you start, no matter how hard you try.

The only thing that fell flat for me was the characters.  Some like Deryn, a natural tomboy pretending to be an actual boy, should have caught my attention, but she didn’t.  Much like Alek, she is a decent enough character, but is not particularly memorable for me.  This should not be possible because both main characters are three dimensional and have fascinating backstories, but for whatever reason, they just didn’t click for me.  I would still recommend Leviathan, however, because this lack of connection is probably just me.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

Amazon     Barnes and Noble