Captivating and Magical, ‘The Phantom Tree’ Delivers An Alternate Look at Tudor History [REVIEW]

The Phantom Tree

Two women bound by a pact, two enemies separated by centuries. Lose yourself in the pages of Nicola Cornick’s The Phantom Tree. (Illustration courtesy Graydon House)

When a long-lost Tudor portrait suddenly surfaces in the midst of a modern-day English festival, one woman’s carefully constructed life is turned on its ear. The face in the painting is as familiar as her own. But can it be? Did the woman in the portrait live? And if so, what secrets does she hold? Find out in Nicola Cornick’s engrossing new novel, The Phantom Tree. 
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Martha Conway’s ‘The Underground River’ [EXCERPT]

Loading food on the Ohio

Cruising in a steamboat along the Ohio River, an actress and her cousin travel the border between the free North and the slave-holding South. (Photo by suemon123, Flickr)

 

Having lived along the banks of the Ohio River for more than a decade, I frequently heard stories about the Underground Railroad and how it ran through the area in the midst of the Civil War. Visitors to Cincinnati can learn much about this history by visiting the Harriet Beecher Stowe House (she’s the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center downtown (a visit here will change your life!). But until you can make the trek to one of these venues, you can lose yourself in the pages of an incredible new book by Martha Conway, The Underground River. To whet your appetite, here’s an exclusive excerpt from chapter one. Enjoy! —Jathan Read more of this post

Susan Spann Finds Her Muse High Atop Mount Koyasan [GUEST POST]

Konpon Daito Pagoda

Structures like the impressive two-storied Konpon Daito Pagoda elicit quiet contemplation and meditation from even the most experienced traveler. (Photo by Susan Spann)

Most of the time, the plot of each new novel drives my research, but in the case of Trial on Mount Koya, a sacred mountain turned that process upside-down. Each Hiro Hattori novel features a crime in a different setting, and a victim from a different social class or niche, allowing me to keep the series fresh and interesting. Read more of this post

Japan’s Sacred Peak Offers Quiet, Contemplation, and Murder in ‘Trial on Mount Koya’ [REVIEW]

Monk heading to Gobyo

A Buddhist temple may seem an unlikely place for a mystery, but Susan Spann’s ninja sleuth Hiro Hittori discovers death and treachery inside its walls in Trial on Mount Koya. (Photo by ccdoh1, Flickr)

A ninja and a priest walk into a Buddhist temple. Although it may sound like the beginning of a joke, it is actually the premise for the sixth installment of what is one of the most unusual and fascinating mystery series I’ve encountered in recent years. Penned by novelist Susan Spann, the latest Hiro Hattori novel, Trial on Mount Koya, reunites fans with her ninja sleuth and pays homage to one of the greatest mystery writers who ever lived, Dame Agatha Christie.
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‘The Lost Vintage’ Takes Readers On A Sensory Journey to the Past [REVIEW]

French vineyard

A trip to France teaches a young sommelier about much more than wine in Ann Mah’s The Lost Vintage. (Photo by Mark Fusco, Flickr)

Young love, delicious wine, family history, and the French countryside. It’s all here in Ann Mah’s sumptuous new novel, The Lost Vintage. Behind this book’s gorgeous cover you’ll meet a woman who journeys from San Francisco to France with the goal of building upon her knowledge of fine wine. What she learns instead are lessons even more powerful and life changing, ones which will enhance much more than her educated palate.
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