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Posts Tagged ‘m.j. rose’

the-secret-language-of-stones

Source: Review copy from Atria
Rating: ★★★★★

In our war-torn world, no one believed in enchantments. They thought witches and spells and conjurers were the stuff of fairy tales. The only mystery anyone still believed in were ghosts.

(from The Secret Language of Stones)

Quick summary: M.J. Rose’s latest novel, The Secret Language of Stones, is set in Paris during World War I and is told through the point of view of Opaline Duplessi, a young jewelry maker who spends much of her time crafting talismans for women who lost loved ones in battle. Weighed down by guilt over the death of a friend, Opaline fled the life her parents planned for her in America to use her gifts to help these women in their grief. She can receive messages from beyond through the energy emanating from gemstones, which is haunting enough by itself, but then Jean Luc, a dead soldier whose mother has turned to Opaline’s magic for comfort, speaks to her directly. As she struggles to come to terms with her powers and her feelings for Jean Luc, her gift and her connection to the Orloffs, who own the shop where she works, take her to England — and to the exiled dowager empress anxious to learn the fate of the Romanovs.

Why I wanted to read it: I’ve been a huge fan of Rose’s for several years, and I certainly couldn’t pass up the chance to read a novel about World War I and the occult. How intriguing! Also, even though this is the second book in The Daughters of La Lune series, it’s a standalone novel; now I need to go back and read The Witch of Painted Sorrows, which is the story of Opaline’s mother.

What I liked: I was held captive by this novel from the very first sentence: “Every morning the pavement in front of our shop in the Palais Royal is washed clean by the tears of the mothers of dead soldiers, widowed wives, and heartsick lovers.” Right away it becomes obvious that Rose is truly a painter of words. Rose’s vivid descriptions bring Opaline, and Paris, to life. I was fascinated by the historical aspects of the novel, particularly how the massive losses during the war prompted grieving women to seek out people like Opaline and how an old ban on fortune telling was enforced because these women were being preyed upon by charlatans. Rose skillfully weaves together Opaline’s powers with the history of the war and the Bolshevik Revolution and even a ghostly love story.

What I disliked: Nothing! It was a beautifully written page-turner from start to finish, and one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

Final thoughts: The Secret Language of Stones is M.J. Rose at her best. There are so many layers to this story, and the characters and descriptions are so well done that I wasn’t ready for it to end. The historical and supernatural elements are so well combined that I never once doubted them as I read. Rose is a fantastic storyteller, and The Secret Language of Stones is a definite on my Best of 2016 list.

Thanks to France Book Tours for having me on the tour for The Secret Language of Stones. To learn more about the book, follow the tour, and enter the giveaway, click the banner below.

the-secret-language-of-stones-banner

Disclosure: I received The Secret Language of Stones from Atria for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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seduction

Source: Review copy from Atria
Rating: ★★★★☆

To live in the moment of desire is to be yourself in the most pure and painful way possible, because beneath every touch is the knowledge of how fleeting the pleasure is.  How elusive the passion.  How impossible it is to contain it for long.

(from Seduction)

Seduction is the latest novel in M.J. Rose’s series about reincarnation, revisiting the main character from The Book of Lost Fragrances (which I loved).  As with all the other books in the series, it can be read on its own.  Rose weaves together the past and the present in this haunting, atmospheric tale.  She brings back mythologist Jac L’Etoile, who is still coming to terms with the hallucinations she’s had since childhood, refusing to believe they could be glimpses of her past lives, and mourning the end of a love affair when she is contacted by Theo Gaspard about checking out what could be Celtic ruins on the Isle of Jersey.

Jac hasn’t seen Theo since they were teenagers receiving therapy at a clinic in Switzerland, but she remembers the intense bond they shared, how they understood each other in a way that no one ever had.  Malachai Samuels of the Phoenix Foundation, Jac’s therapist and friend who has devoted his entire life to the study of reincarnation and the search for elusive memory tools, warns her against going, but she’s not going to pass up a chance to explore the ruins and find proof of the existence of the Druids.  However, Theo also wants Jac’s help in finding a journal written by novelist Victor Hugo in 1855 that supposedly is hidden in one of the island’s many caves and details his conversations with the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

The novel shifts back and forth between Jac’s adventures in the caves and ruins of Jersey and the scent triggers that bring her back in time and Victor Hugo’s first-person account of the numerous séances in which he participated in the hopes of communicating with his beloved daughter who drowned 10 years before.  Hugo’s story involves a perfumer with ties to the Gaspard family and a spirit that tempts him with the impossible.

Seduction is a captivating, fast-paced novel that is sensual and mysterious, beautiful and tragic, with luscious descriptions of the scents of ancient woods and the sea.  I was surprised by the complexity of the plot, fascinated by the tortured characters, enamored of the scenery, and even chilled by the evil that Hugo must battle.  Readers don’t have to believe in reincarnation to buy into the plot, nor do they have to worry about romance overshadowing a story about haunted souls struggling to find peace in their lives.  Rose is a gifted storyteller who perfectly blends the fact and the fiction to create an unputdownable novel that had me wanting to drop everything to travel to Jersey and see it for myself.

seduction tour

historical fiction reading challenge

Book 15 for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Disclosure: I received Seduction from Atria for review.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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He struggled to separate out the notes he recognized from the ones he didn’t, searching for the ingredients that gave the blend its promise of hope, of long nights and voluptuous dreams, of invitation and embrace.  Of an everlasting covenant ripe with possibility.  Of lost souls reunited.

Tears sprang to the perfumer’s eyes as he inhaled again.  This was the kind of scent he’d always imagined capturing.  He was smelling liquid emotion.  Giles L’Etoile was smelling love. 

(from The Book of Lost Fragrances, page 6 in the advanced reading copy; finished version may be different)

The Book of Lost Fragrances is the fourth book in M.J. Rose‘s series about reincarnation, preceded by The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, and The Hypnotist.  These books can be read on their own, as each has a different story, but they are connected in some way to one character who factors into each.  I enjoyed the first two books in the series, but The Book of Lost Fragrances blows them both away.  Rose has a way of drawing you in from the first page, tantalizing you with a glimpse of history and the promise of a multi-layered story with characters whose past and present lives are fascinating.

It’s hard to sum up The Book of Lost Fragrances, as there are numerous twists and turns, and the way Rose ties the characters and plot threads together around a memory tool is amazing.  The book centers on Jac L’Etoile, who comes from a long line of Parisian perfumers.  Her father has lost his mind to dementia, and Jac and her younger brother, Robbie, are left with a failing business.  Jac insists that they must sell off two of their signature perfumes in order to stay afloat, but Robbie has his heart set on finding a book of perfume recipes from ancient Egypt during Cleopatra’s reign — a book of lost fragrances that was said to have been taken from a tomb by one of the L’Etoile ancestors in 1799, a book that could give the House of L’Etoile a much needed boost.

Jac doesn’t believe the book exists, and she doesn’t believe the shards of ancient pottery found by her brother contain a fragrance that triggers past-life memories.  It seems that Jac is the only one who doesn’t see the importance of the pottery shards, but she is forced to rethink her beliefs when she realizes that people are willing to kill in order to get their hands on what might be an actual memory tool.

In The Book of Lost Fragrances, Rose takes readers on a journey through present-day Paris and the catacombs under the city, ancient Egypt, Paris during the French Revolution, China, and Tibet.  It’s obvious that Rose has done a lot of research about perfumes, reincarnation, and the connection between scent and memory.  I never stopped to consider the different layers of a fragrance before reading this book, and like one of the characters, I realized how easy it can be to go through life without paying much attention to the scents we encounter on a daily basis.  I was drawn to the parts of the story that took place in the past and how they were connected to the events in the present through scent.

Rose’s characters are flawed and conflicted, especially Jac, who is forced to confront her biggest fears, her inner demons, and a former lover she fought so long and hard to forget in order to keep her brother alive and ensure the pottery doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.  Rose’s descriptions of the scents that assault Jac at every turn put readers in the scene, opening their minds to the significance of the sense of smell.  I almost felt like I was sitting at the perfumer’s organ with Jac, staring in awe at the bottles of fragrance and fascinated with the idea of being able to mix the different florals and woods together to create a unique scent with the power to bind people together for eternity.  Rose includes a little something for everyone in The Book of Lost Fragrances — history, romance, action, and suspense.  She is a skilled storyteller, and I enjoyed going along for the ride.

Book 13 for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Book of Lost Fragrances from Atria for review purposes. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I am thrilled to welcome M.J. Rose back to Diary of an Eccentric.  I had the chance to interview her back in 2008, when the second book in her series about reincarnation, The Memorist, was released.  The latest book in the series, The Book of Lost Fragrances, centers on fragrances, the art of making perfume, and how scents can trigger memories.  I will be reviewing the book tomorrow, but let me just say that it’s a book that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Today, M.J. Rose is here to talk about a lost fragrance, and if you think the description of this perfume is enticing, you definitely want to check out The Book of Lost Fragrances.  I’ll admit to sniffing my fragrance collection after finishing the book and trying to pick apart the layers of scent.

Please give a warm welcome to M.J. Rose:

M.J. Rose: I’ve been fascinated with lost fragrances since long before I started writing The Book of Lost Fragrances … since I found a bottle of perfume on my great grandmother’s dresser that had belonged to her mother in Russia. Here is one of those lost fragrances that stirs the senses and the imagination … (researched and described with the help of the perfume writer Dimitrios Dimitriadis)

GUERLAIN – COQUE D’OR

An exceptionally beautiful leather chypre created in 1937 by Jacques Guerlain. Soft florals tumble over a buttery leather accord which evoke thoughts of paper-thin hand-made gloves of extraordinary quality. Built over a classic Guerlain chypre base of sandalwood, amber and oakmoss … this perfume is pre-WWII finery at its best. A scent to be worn with cashmere, pearls and soft furs, but sadly one that has been out of production for the last 60 years.

About M.J. Rose:

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her next novel THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES (Atria/S&S) will be published in March 2012.  Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio.  Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com.  The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype.  She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook.

About The Book of Lost Fragrances:

A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra–and lost for 2,000 years.

Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances–and of her mother’s suicide–she moved to America. Now, fourteen years later she and her brother have inherited the company along with it’s financial problems. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing–leaving a dead body in his wake–Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac becomes haunted by the legend the House of L’Etoile has been espousing since 1799. Is there a scent that can unlock the mystery of reincarnation – or is it just another dream infused perfume?

The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.

Disclosure: I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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The Memorist, book two in M.J. Rose’s reincarnation suspense series, is just as gripping (if not more) than the first, The Reincarnationist (which I reviewed here). Once again, a memory tool is at stake, and someone is willing to kill to lay claim to it. Meer Logan, a woman who has been plagued since childhood with memories of haunting music and a gaming box from the 1800s, is the key to locating it.

In The Memorist, the memory tool is an ancient bone flute hidden by Beethoven after he deciphered the carvings on the instrument and discovered the dangers of the memory song. Anyone who hears the song will remember the horrors of their previous life.

Woven in with the story of Meer, her father, and Malachai Samuels of the Phoenix Foundation (a familiar face from The Reincarnationist) looking for the memory flute are several subplots involving a number of intriguing characters: a hard-nosed CEO of a security firm who would bribe terrorists to ensure complete security at a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic; an oboe player in the Vienna Philharmonic and a friend of Meer’s father who is desperate to find out why his young son has withdrawn and spends his days in a psychiatric facility (a hospital where the Nazis conducted horrific experiments during WWII) reciting a prayer for the dead in Hebrew, a language he has never spoken; and a prominent Israeli journalist who lost his entire family to a terrorist bomb and plans to retaliate. Rose also takes readers back to the past, specifically to Vienna in the 1800s when Beethoven was deciphering the memory song and to India in 2120 B.C.E. when the ancient bone flute was made.

Not only does The Memorist keep you reading when you should be doing things like sleeping or cooking your family dinner (I even read this while walking to work from the bus stop, though not when crossing the street!), but it also gets you thinking about the power of memory and what happens to one’s soul when they die. In the book, memories can be painful and debilitating, but they also can be instrumental in preventing disaster or even heal wounds in the present time. You can bet I’m anxiously awaiting the third book in the series!

Read an excerpt of The Memorist here.

M.J. Rose was kind enough to answer my questions about The Memorist and her writing.

What inspired you to write about reincarnation?

When I was three years old, I told my great grandfather things about his childhood in Russia that there was simply no way I could have known. He became convinced I was a reincarnation of someone in his past. And over time, after more incidents, my mother–a very sane and logical woman–also came to believe it. Reincarnation was an idea I grew up with that my mom and I talked about and researched together. For years, I wanted to write a novel about someone like my mother–who was sane and logical–who started out skeptical but came to believe in reincarnation. But I was afraid if I did people would think I was a “woo woo weirdo.”

I tried to start the first book in this series ten years ago after my mother died, but I was too close to the subject and missed her too much to be able to explore it objectively. Every once in awhile the idea would start to pester me again, but I still stayed away from it. Then a few years ago on the exact anniversary of my mom’s death, my niece, who was a toddler at the time, said some very curious things to me about my mother and I–things she really couldn’t have known–and the pestering became an obsession. That’s when I sat down and started in earnest to write The Reincarnationist–which was published in Sept 2007, is out now in paperback, and is the first book in the series. But they don’t have to be read in order.

How long did it take to write The Memorist? How many more books do you have planned that deal with reincarnation?

It took about 18 months and I have one more in the works but there might be more after that. . . I haven’t decided yet.

How do you prepare before sitting down to write the actual novel? How much research do you do beforehand?

I’ve been researching the subject for years and have read over 50 books on reincarnation. . .but before writing each book, I have to do another 3-6 months of research on that particular book.

Do you have a particular writing routine? How much time do you spend writing every day?

The 3 months before I start a new novel, I don’t write a word. While I’m doing all that research I also work on my main character’s scrapbook. The very process of collecting her preferred poems, swatches of her favorite colors, and petals from the flowers she grows gives me time to find her.

I collect the ticket stubs for a performance of the Metropolitan Opera that she went to, a postcard from her mother’s first trip to Europe, a piece of the red and white string on the pastry box from her grandmother’s apartment; it’s all in the scrapbook.

And only when I’ve found all the knickknacks of her life and I’ve done a fair amount of procrastinating do I even think about sitting down to write.

And then I try to write at least five days a week–from four to six hours a day–usually from noon to six with two breaks in there to walk the dog and go get coffee.

What are you reading now?

Deepak Chopra’s Buddha.

Who are your favorite authors?

To many to name but some are: Paul Auster, Anne Rice, Robert Goddard, Michael Connelly, Ruth Rendell, Sophie Kinsella, Alice Hoffman, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Steve Berry, Jeffery Deaver. . .and I’ve been influenced by John O’Hara, Ayn Rand, Daphne DuMaurier, and John Gardner.

Are you working on another novel? Could you give us a hint as to what it’s about?

Yes, I am. It’s another book in this series and takes place in NYC and a bit in ancient Greece and ancient Persia.

Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists like myself?

Two things: Remember–writing may be an art, but selling your writing is a business. So love the process of writing because that is all about it that really matters. Whether you sell one book or 500,000 you have to love what you do everyday. Very few writers make a living writing fiction. We do it out of a passion for storytelling and the written word–if you are in it for the money, do something else.

Thanks, M.J.! I’m looking forward to the next book, and I wish you much success!

I have two sets of M.J. Rose’s books up for grabs, which means TWO lucky winners will each receive a paperback copy of The Reincarnationist AND a hardcover copy of The Memorist!! To enter, just leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think about reincarnation. Make sure you leave an email address or blog URL if you want your entry to count. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents, and the deadline is Nov. 30, 2008. Good luck!

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Visit the other blogs participating in The Memorist tour. A list of tour stops can be found here. Once again, I’d like to thank TLC Book Tours for this wonderful experience!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of The Memorist from MIRA for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2008 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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The Reincarnationist is the first in a series of books by M.J. Rose about reincarnation. I read it several months ago, but I held off reviewing it when I signed up to host a stop on M.J. Rose’s blog tour for the second book in the series, The Memorist so I could review both books together. (Read my review of The Memorist and interview with M.J. Rose tomorrow!)

The Reincarnationist begins with photojournalist Josh Ryder experiencing memories of someone else’s life in fourth-century Rome after he was injured in a terrorist bombing. Uncertain why he is having visions from 1,600 years ago, he seeks the help of the Phoenix Foundation, an organization that aims to help children plagued by memories of past lives. Josh’s quest to learn the meaning of these memories leads him to Gabriella Chase, an archaeologist who helped uncover a tomb where a pagan nun known as a Vestal Virgin was buried alive. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story involves the hunt for memory stones, which are ancient jewels thought to bring the person who possesses them visions of all his/her past lives. The stones are very valuable; several people are after them in the book, and some would kill to have their powers.

M.J. Rose’s fast-paced writing style draws you in from the first page, and she manages to weave a complex tale involving numerous characters in different periods of time without making it difficult to follow. Rose is brilliant at giving the right amount of information at the right time, which is perfect for someone like me who likes to be kept in suspense until the very end. While I personally do not believe in reincarnation, the storyline seems plausible, and Rose never forces a particular belief system on the reader.

I thought all of the characters were interesting and well developed, and each of their stories was intriguing. I particularly loved the story about Sabina, the Vestal Virgin in the tomb, and her forbidden affair with Julius, the pagan priest. Their story could have been a book on its own!

I’ve heard people compare The Reincarnationist to The Da Vinci Code, which I read quite awhile ago. I can see why such comparisons are made, specifically in the hunt for ancient relics that could change what people believe and put many lives in danger. Personally, though, I think The Reincarnationist is a better read, as Rose did a great job making me feel connected to the characters and pulling me right into the story. This wasn’t a good book for me to read on the train/bus because I was so engrossed that I almost missed my stop on more than one occasion!

Read an excerpt of The Reincarnationist here.

Disclosure:  I borrowed The Reincarnationist from my local library. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2008 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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