The Lhasa Trilogy
Written by Gary D. Conrad
Published on February 12, 2012 by Rainbow Books
On a frigid night at Tibet’s Drepung Monastery, Lama Tenzin Tashi is awakened by a fervent knocking on his door. Quickly he realizes these raps are dreaded harbinger, one which will launch him on a quest to satisfy a vow, a blasphemous promise he wishes he had never made. But at this point, the lama has no other choice. The journey must be undertaken, no matter the cost.
Thus begins an odyssey that spans not only his life, but also the life of a man born near a small town of Davidson, Oklahoma. Who could comprehend how inexplicably intertwined their pathways would become as they pushed aside the veil that concealed the hidden secrets of death?
The Lhasa Trilogy is an intriguing tale of incarnation, karma and redemption; while at its heart is universal spirituality. Even though this book is a work of fiction, I found it incredibly thought-provoking and enlightening. I have always been intrigued by Buddhism and this book gives a nice glimpse into that way of life.
The story is broken up into three interlinked books. First, Matthew Walker Johnston has been dealt an absolutely horrid life. He faces so many tragedies and is not able to overcome them. His inability to overcome the sorrow in his life leads him to make horrid life-decisions that damage his soul and/or karma. His journey for redemption is at the center of this story. Matthew is very self-aware of how badly he led his life. However, he set in motion a way for him and his incarnation to redeem them.
Lama Tenzin Tashi is a wonderful character who also has flaws that must be overcome in order to reach total enlightenment. Throughout his journey to search for Matthew’s next incarnation, he questions his motives. However, it is this journey that helps him to release his imperfections and find nirvana. I enjoyed his flashback of his early life. His reflections gave the reader a real glimpse into the Chinese treatment of Tibet. It was and is a horrible time for Tibet. Through Tenzin’s eyes, you are able to feel all of the atrocities that Tibetans face on a daily basis.
The last piece to this puzzle is Wade Joshua Adams. It is his responsibility to accept what is before him and take his life to another level. Wade is everything Matthew should have been. Together they have a chance for redemption and to make the world a much better place. Wade, Todd, and Sonali, also, give the reader knowledge that the people you love never leave you. Your journey is not complete unless you your loved ones surround you.
The Lhasa Trilogy is a very spiritually-laden book that should not be overlooked. My main take-away is that there really isn’t religion, only spiritual well-being. But there is a God and it is never too late for forgiveness and redemption.
The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)
Written by Deborah Harkness
Published on July 15, 2014 by Viking Press
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.
The Book of Life is a marvelous conclusion to the All Souls Trilogy. Deborah Harkness gave the reader a book that resolves storylines plus a wisp of hope that the story isn’t over. I loved every page and I was so sad to see it end. Once again, Ms. Harkness weaves a magical tale of love; however, with The Book of Life, she shows us what it means to be a family.
Throughout The Book of Life, the definition of family and loyalty is put to the test. Diana and Matthew redefine family by calling witches, vampires and daemons all family. I loved how that family had evolved so dramatically since A Discovery of Witches. There was so much distrust and hatred. Now there is love, loyalty and acceptance. Race purity is an ignorance and ancient concept. The sense of family conquered that basic racism.
Diana and Matthew reached their full character potential. Diana became an incredibly strong woman, witch, wife and mother. In A Discovery of Witches, she completely denied who she was and who she could be. By the end, she fully embraces herself and becomes the anchor of her family. Matthew, also, reached his full potential on a different level. He was so cold and detached; now he opens up to Diana and his family. He recognizes his faults and will willingly accept help. He is no longer just Diana’s protector. They are full partners in life and love.
The Book of Life is, by far, my favorite book of the year. I’m hoping, that one day, Deborah Harkness revisits and tells more amazing stories of Diana and Matthew. I’m so not ready to say good-bye. By the way The Book of Life ended, I feel there is possibility that Diana and Matthew will not fade away.
The Bone Church
Written by Victoria Dougherty
Published on April 15, 2014 by Pier’s Court Press
In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.
But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.
Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.
The Bone Church is a very poignant story of survival and love lost during and after World War II. Felix and Magdalena’s story seems heartbreaking at every turn. I wish I got say that love conquers all; everything but the Nazis and the Soviets.
There is so much passion in the book; passion for ways of life, country and spirituality. Felix really embodies all of that throughout the book. I love his spirituality and his ability to connect at different levels of perception. He receives at help from so many sources; real and mystic. He never gives up and his ability to survive does him credit in so many ways.
Of all of the characters portrayed in The Bone Church, Srut really stood out to me. He has such a strong sense of what is right and wrong; according to Srut. He is loyal to the people he trusts which are few. He will go to great length and sacrifice to save “his” people. He is a wonderful character and should be appreciated.
The Bone Church is a character in of itself. The author gave the reader some vivid images of what this church was. I loved how everything comes full circle at The Bone Church. Everything is resolved at the Bone Church.
The Bone Church is a wonderful book about a horrible time in the world’s history. But at its heart is survival and loyalty. It will stay with me for a long time.
Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere. Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.
For more information, please visit Victoria Dougherty’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
The Bone Church Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, June 17
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, June 18
Excerpt at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Thursday, June 19
Guest Post at I’d So Rather Be Reading
Monday, June 23
Review at Based on a True Story
Tuesday, June 24
Review at Bibliotica
Friday, June 27
Review at Back Porchervations
Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, July 2
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, July 3
Review at leeanna.me
Monday, July 7
Review at Library Educated
Thursday, July 10
Excerpt & Spotlight at Books and Benches
Monday, July 14
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 15
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Thursday, July 17
Guest Post at Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, July 18
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Monday, July 21
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, July 22
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, July 23
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Tuesday, July 29
Review at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, July 30
Review at Luxury Reading
Thursday, July 31
Review at From the TBR Pile
Murder by Misrule
Written by Anne Castle
Published on June 8, 2014 by Capital Crime
Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn. He recruits his unwanted protégé Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon’s powerful Uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man’s legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss – and in danger – until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.
Murder by Misrule is a highly entertaining story about murder, the law and politics; where none of which mix well together. This book is definitely a page-turner with very colorful characters. The storyline keeps you thinking to the very end.
I found Francis Bacon to be a tad tedious. His ongoing “ill health” made him very trying at times. However, his legal mind made him a terrific detective. I really enjoy when historical figures are made into fictional detectives and Ms. Castle had Bacon into a very intelligent detective. However, it is a good thing that Ms. Castle included Thomas Clarady in the story. He really brings life to it.
Thomas Clarady is quite a character. He is full life, love and gusto; plus underneath it all, he has a strong mind. I think Bacon and Clarady will make a good partnership for later books in the series. They are two sides of the same coin. Tom can effectively maneuver and persuade to get what he wants. If Bacon lacks finesse, Clarady definitely makes up for it. I look forward to more interaction between the two in later books.
The supporting characters were also very amusing. Ben and Trumpet have interesting storylines and I would very much like to see them more developed and involved with Bacon and Clarady. They all make for a very interesting quartet.
Overall, Murder By Misrule is a very engaging mystery and sets up this new series nicely. I’m really looking forward to the second installment.
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Anna Castle has been a waitress, software engineer, documentary linguist, college professor, and digital archivist. Historical fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas, and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Wednesday, June 4
Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Thursday, June 5
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den
Saturday, June 7
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Sunday, June 8
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, June 9
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, June 10
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy
Thursday, June 12
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Friday, June 13
Book Blast at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Wednesday, June 18
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Saturday, June 21
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Tuesday, June 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, June 25
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing
Friday, June 27
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Monday, June 30
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Starting Fresh
Wednesday, July 2
Review at Kincavel Korner
Friday, July 4
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
What was our planet like in years past? How has our civilization affected Earth and its ecology? This second edition begins by discussing these questions, and then generates a scenario for the restoration of Earth. It introduces new and innovative ideas on how we could use the Solar System and its resources for terrestrial benefit.
Harvesting Space for a Greener Earth is a fascinating book that poses some very interesting ideas on how to save our natural resources and continue to live on our planet. As an environmental attorney, I have worked in this field for almost 19 years and there are no easy answers on how to conserve our natural resources. By moving our energy production to space is an interesting idea but I’m not sure if it’s a viable one.
As this book stated, our planet is totally dependent on fossil fuels. We need to find a way to move away from that energy source; especially coal. If we could somehow harness the resources on the moon and somehow get them back to Earth, that would be an ideal situation. The authors pointed out that the moon is already dead. Pollution and mining activities will do it any more harm, unlike how it affects our planet.
I really like the idea of removing the significant pollution sources off our planet. However, the expense of the removal and the capture of those resources would be incredibly expensive. Furthermore, I know we are not ready from a technical standpoint. There needs to be extensive research and development to create an infrastructure that can be located off-planet. We are just not there yet. Also, the money involved would astronomical.
Overall, I found this book very thought-provoking and interesting. There are a lot of good ideas that would benefit our planet and move away from our dependency of fossil fuels which continue to pollute our world. We need a move balanced energy plan that benefits all living creatures on Earth. Do you think that’s possible? I just don’t know.
Today, I’m not going to talk about books. Instead, I’m going to review the Erin Condren Life Planner that I received this week. First of all, it is amazing! Second, I can include my entire life in this planner and be organized. Lately, it seems that people use electronic calendars to organize their life. However, I need something more visual and tangible. As you may know, I love books and paper. This Life Planner is exactly what I needed.
There are many options to choose from. I picked the Classic Planner in the multi-colored taffy stripes design. Each planner is personalized and I had my name printed on it. You can have anything that you want on your cover. I love that it is personalized to fit your style and life.
Here is what the Life Planner includes:
- Interchangeable, laminated , heavy duty cover
- Inspirational quotes throughout
- Laminated tabs
- Two-page monthly spreads
- Goals and to-do lists for every week and month
- Weekly spreads divided into morning, day and night
- Meal/exercise/lists etc section for highlighted daily notes and activities
- Clear, snap-in page holder/ruler
- Over 25 lined and designer blank note pages
- Double-sided folder
- 240 colorful stickers to highlight birthdays, special events and reminders
- Bound-in zip lock pocket with 12 gift labels
I love that the covers are interchangeable. I plan to get a new cover for each season; that way my calendar look doesn’t get old. I really appreciate the weekly spread with the morning, day and nights sections. It makes it so easy to schedule your appointments and journal your activities. The stickers really make your calendar pop. I color code my stickers to show which part of my life to schedule.
As most working moms are, I’m a multitasker. I’m juggling several balls in the air at once. However, I need to keep track of every ball. Here is what I have to keep track of:
- Family/Home (Red)
- Work (Blue)
- Barefoot Books (Orange)
- Kinx’s Book Nook (Purple)
- Birthdays (Pink)
- Bills (green)
All of my previous calendars looked extremely messy and events would get lost. Now nothing gets lost. I can keep track of my kids’ activities and when to pose my book reviews without missing a single step.
I did order some extras as well. I got the pens, coil clips, sticky notes and the keep it together bands. I really the coil clips. For instance, I put a clip on my daughters’ dental reminder card and clipped it right into my Life Planner. It makes things look so clean and junky. Plus it’s right there where I won’t forget. You can use the coil clips for invitations, appointment card, etc. It’s a great addition to the Planner.
As you can tell, I love my new Erin Condren Life Planner. If decided that you would like one as well, use this LINK and you will received $10 off your new Life Planner.
On discovering this, most people ask me why. (It is a reasonable question.) The early eighteenth century is comparatively neglected by historical novelists, which is one answer to the question. I am drawn to neglected things.
I fell in love with the period in part because of the people I met there. They were familiar to me. Take John Grano, for instance. A talented musician who played trumpet in Handel’s orchestra, Grano was also terrible with money. A “live for today, pay for it tomorrow” sort of fellow. Inevitably, he ended up in debt. In 1728 he was thrown into the Marshalsea debtors’ prison and languished there for over a year.
Grano would have fallen out of history unremembered—but he happened to write a diary of his time in the Marshalsea, and it survived.
A page of John Grano’s diary, edited by John Ginger.
Grano is not a great stylist or thinker. His spelling is interesting. (Eighteenth-century spelling is rather fluid.) He’s not a very good judge of character either—he makes friends with all the wrong people, has endless squabbles with his cell mates, and fails to realize that the jail’s keeper, William Acton, could be dangerous and cruel. (Acton was later tried for murder.)
But Grano is endearing precisely because he is flawed. He drinks too much and suffers terrible hangovers. He worries about his friends and gets sulky when they neglect him. He sends somewhat passive-aggressive begging notes to his hardworking sister. He becomes gloomy, then rallies himself. He finds solace in music and the company of ladies.
He is human, in other words, and beyond the obvious differences of time and place, very familiar.
There are some wonderful Georgian historians—scholars such as Lucy Worsley and Amanda Vickery. There are the contemporary novelists—Swift, Defoe, Fielding. There are the wise, clear-eyed, and witty paintings by Hogarth.
But nothing quite beats a primary source—and this period is rich with them. This was the age of pamphlets, broadsheets, ballads, and sermons. The birth of newspapers. Criminals waiting to be hanged wrote their memoirs. Courtiers wrote mischievous accounts of palace life. Travellers sent outraged letters about the debauched, drunken, foul-mouthed citizens of London.
And an impoverished musician wrote a diary to keep himself occupied in one of the worst places on earth.
In every one of these personal stories there is something strange and something familiar. There is an old saying: times change, and we change with them. But in our hearts, in the things that really matter—like love and betrayal, family and friendship—I don’t think we have changed at all.
And that, perhaps more than anything, is why I love discovering people like John Grano. And why I love writing historical fiction.
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Antonia Hodgson is the editor in chief of Little, Brown UK. She lives in London and can see the last fragments of the old city wall from her living room. The Devil in the Marshalsea is her first novel.
The Devil in the Marshalsea Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, June 10
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, June 11
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, June 12
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, June 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, June 20
Interview at Reading the Past
Monday, June 23
Guest Post at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, June 25
Review & Giveaway at Book Nerd
Monday, June 30
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, July 1
Review at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, July 3
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Monday, July 7
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 8
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, July 9
Spotlight at Layered Pages
A CONVERSATION WITH DEBORAH HARKNESS
Q: In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE? There’s quite a bit more lab work in this book!
A. There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science—past or present—is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some of those questions were answered alchemically. Today, they might be answered biochemically and genetically. In the future? Who knows. But Matthew is right in suggesting that there are really remarkably few scientific questions and we have been posing them for a very long time. Two of them are: who am I? why am I here?
Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to fact important moral issues?
A. Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations—all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires, and witches rather than confronting issues of race or sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about members of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.
Q: From the moment Matthew and a pregnant Diana arrive back at Sept-Tours and reinstate themselves back into a sprawling family of witches and vampires, it becomes clear that the meaning of family will be an important idea for THE BOOK OF LIFE. How does this unify the whole series? Did you draw on your own life?
A. Since time immemorial the family has been an important way for people to organize themselves in the world. In the past, the “traditional” family was a sprawling and blended unit that embraced immediate relatives, in-laws and their immediate families, servants, orphaned children, the children your partner might bring into a family from a previous relationship, and other dependents. Marriage was an equally flexible and elastic concept in many places and times. Given how old my vampires are, and the fact that witches are the keepers of tradition, I wanted to explore from the very first page of the series the truly traditional basis of family: unqualified love and mutual responsibility. That is certainly the meaning of family that my parents taught me.
Q: While there are entire genres devoted to stories of witches, vampires, and ghosts, the idea of a weaver – a witch who weaves original spells – feels very unique to THE BOOK OF LIFE. What resources helped you gain inspiration for Diana’s uniqueness?
A. Believe it or not, my inspiration for weaving came from a branch of mathematics called topology. I became intrigued by mathematical theories of mutability to go along with my alchemical theories of mutability and change. Topology is a mathematical study of shapes and spaces that theorizes how far something can be stretched or twisted without breaking. You could say it’s a mathematical theory of connectivity and continuity (two familiar themes to any reader of the All Souls Trilogy). I wondered if I could come up with a theory of magic that could be comfortably contained within mathematics, one in which magic could be seen to shape and twist reality without breaking it. I used fabric as a metaphor for this worldview with threads and colors shaping human perceptions. Weavers became the witches who were talented at seeing and manipulating the underlying fabric. In topology, mathematicians study knots—unbreakable knots with their ends fused together that can be twisted and shaped. Soon the mathematics and mechanics of Diana’s magic came into focus.
Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and Shadow of Night debuted at #1. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for the All Souls Trilogy? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?
A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who have a considerable number of quirks and challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in the world of the Bishops and de Clemonts. Sometimes when I meet readers they ask me how their friends are doing—meaning Diana, or Matthew, or Miriam. That’s an extraordinary experience for a writer.
Q: Diana and Matthew, once again, move around to quite a number of locations in THE BOOK OF LIFE, including New Haven, New Orleans, and a few of our favorite old haunts like Oxford, Madison, and Sept-Tours. What inspired you to place your characters in these locations? Have you visited them yourself?
A. As a writer, I really need to experience the places I write about in my books. I want to know what it smells like, how the air feels when it changes direction, the way the sunlight strikes the windowsill in the morning, the sound of birds and insects. Not every writer may require this, but I do. So I spent time not only in New Haven but undertaking research at the Beinecke Library so that I could understand the rhythms of Diana’s day there. I visited New Orleans several times to imagine my vampires into them. All of the locations I pick are steeped in history and stories about past inhabitants—perfect fuel for any writer’s creative fire.
Q: Did you know back when you wrote A Discovery of Witches how the story would conclude in THE BOOK OF LIFE? Did the direction change once you began the writing process?
A. I knew how the trilogy would end, but I didn’t know exactly how we would get there. The story was well thought out through the beginning of what became The Book of Life, but the chunk between that beginning and the ending (which is as I envisioned it) did change. In part that was because what I had sketched out was too ambitious and complicated—the perils of being not only a first-time trilogy writer but also a first time author. It was very important to me that I resolve and tie up all the threads already in the story so readers had a satisfying conclusion. Early in the writing of The Book of Life it became clear that this wasn’t going to give me much time to introduce new characters or plot twists. I now understand why so many trilogies have four, five, six—or more—books in them. Finishing the trilogy as a trilogy required a lot of determination and a very thick pair of blinders as I left behind characters and story lines that would take me too far from the central story of Diana, Matthew, and the Book of Life.
Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the secrets contained in the manuscript are at long last revealed in THE BOOK OF LIFE. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation. What was the story behind your discovery? And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?
A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.
Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?
A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.
Q: Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches have often been compared to young adult fantasy like Twilight, with the caveat that this series is for adults interested in history, science, and academics. Unlike Bella and Edward, Matthew and Diana are card-carrying members of academia who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?
A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.
Follow Alison Morton’s Book Blast for SUCCESSIO, the third book in her Roma Nova Series, from June 16-27 for a chance to win your own autographed copy and bookmark!
Roma Nova – the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century – is at peace. Carina Mitela, the heir of a leading family, but choosing the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, is not so sure.
She senses danger crawling towards her when she encounters a strangely self-possessed member of the unit hosting their exchange exercise in Britain. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad’s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she knows the threat is real.
Trying to resolve a young man’s indiscretion twenty-five years before turns into a nightmare that not only threatens to destroy all the Mitelae but also attacks the core of the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun at the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…
Praise for Successio
“If there is a world where fiction becomes more believable than reality, then Alison Morton’s ingenious thrillers must be the portal through which to travel. Following in Caesar’s footsteps, she came with INCEPTIO, saw with PERFIDITAS – and has well and truly conquered with SUCCESSIO!” – Helen Hollick, author and Managing Editor Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews
“Alison Morton has done it again. SUCCESSIO is the latest in her series of powerful tales of family betrayals and shifting allegiances in Roma Nova. Once again, I was gripped from start to finish.” – Sue Cook, writer and broadcaster
Watch the Book Trailer
Roma Nova Series
Book One: Inceptio
Book Two: Perfiditas
Book Three: Successio
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Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.
A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…
INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion® in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®. Alison is currently working on the fourth book.
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June 20: Historical Fiction Obsession
June 22: Just One More Chapter
June 27: CelticLady’s Reviews
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Written by Annie Proulx
Published in 2002 by Scribners
Folks in the Texas panhandle do not like hog farms. But Bob Dollar is determined to see his new job as hog site scout for Global Pork Rind through to the end. However, he is forced to face the idiosyncratic inhabitants of Woolybucket and to questions his own notions of loyalty and home.
That Old Ace in the Hole is a wonderful book about preserving a way of life and not fall victim to corporate takeover. It is a refreshing take on small town life and how its residents refuse to let go of their stories and home.
The book’s antagonist is the wretched corporate hog farm. Not many people in Woolybucket favor the hog farms coming into their community. That’s why when Bob Dollar arrives in town he is told by his superiors to make up a cover story and not admit he’s scouting for a hog farm. The secrecy of Bob’s mission really conveys the message that Global Pork Rind is up to no good and doesn’t care about the people and their community. Global Pork Rind doesn’t care if they destroy the land or town. It is the evil and vile corporation at its best.
For the rest of my review, head over to The Red Dirt Report.