Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Trial On Mount Koya - Author Guest Post

 I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo head up to Mount Koya, only to find themselves embroiled in yet another mystery, this time in a Shingon Buddhist temple atop one of Japan’s most sacred peaks.

November, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple at the summit of Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple’s priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife–the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests–including Father Mateo–become unwilling members of the killer’s grisly council of the dead.
Author Guest Post:   Solving The “Female Problem” On Koyasan

When I set out to write a mystery set on one of Japan’s most sacred peaks in 1565, I faced an unusual problem: how to incorporate female characters into a novel set in a place no woman was allowed to tread.

Like many of Japan’s most sacred mountains, Koyasan did not allow women onto the peak until relatively recently—specifically, at end of the 19thcentury. Before that, women could come to the edge of the koya—the summit valley from which the mountain takes its name—but could not actually enter the sacred precincts or the temples atop the mountain. Instead, women had to stay in one of the seven nyonindo, or women’s halls, that surrounded the peak.

As a writer, I want my novels to include as diverse a cast of characters as possible. As a writer of historical fiction, I also need to ensure my characters could have existed in 16thcentury Japan. (I do write fiction, but I’m committed to accuracy in the historical details.)

Which placed me squarely on the horns of a dilemma: how to get women into a novel, and a place, where women were taboo?

The outline for the novel included no female characters at all. Since women were not allowed on Koya’s summit, I didn’t plot them into the book. But then, about halfway through writing the first draft of the novel, I realized the story didn’t work without female characters. The book—like the world—required both men and women to balance properly.

I needed to get women into the story, and the temple. But how?

The answer—literally—struck like a bolt of lightning.

The Buddhist commitment to the sanctity of life would have prevented even ardent priests from refusing shelter to women who would otherwise perish in a storm. If something destroyed the nyonindo, in weather that made it impossible for the stranded women to leave the mountain, the priests at the closest temple mightagree to offer the women shelter until the storm subsided. The women would be cloistered, and kept away from the priests, of course, but they would still be on the temple grounds and accessible to my detectives (and my plot).

I rewrote the outline, and the book, with lightning striking the nyonindo and burning the women’s hall to the ground. The fugitive women fled to the nearest temple—where Hiro and Father Mateo persuade the priests to let the women stay. With a killer loose in the temple, it isn’t much safer than the blizzard raging across the mountaintop (in fact, for several unfortunate souls, it might have been better to risk the storm) but it did accomplish my central mission: finding a plausible, realistic way to include female characters at a time and place most women were not allowed.

As I expected, the plot and the novel as a whole were much better with both men and women represented—in art, as in life, more viewpoints always make a story stronger.

Check out the other reviews of Trial on Mount Koya on the TLC Book Tours

Susan Spann is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year and the author of five previous novels in the Hiro Hattori / Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, Flask of the Drunken Master, The Ninja’s Daughter, and Betrayal at Iga. She has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. When not writing, she enjoys hiking, photography, and traveling in Japan.

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Best Beach Ever

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): Hoping for smooth sailing the ladies of Ten Beach Road confront choppy seas....

Forced to rent out or lose their beloved Bella Flora after the loss of their renovation-turned-reality-TV show Do Over, Maddie, Nikki, Avery, Kyra, and Bitsy move into cottages at the Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club believing the worst is over. Only to discover just how uncertain their futures really are. 
Maddie struggles with the challenges of dating a rock star whose career has come roaring back to life while Nikki faces the daunting realities of mothering twins at 47. Avery buries herself in a tiny home build in an attempt to dodge commitment issues, and Kyra battles to protect her son from the Hollywood world she once dreamed of joining. And Bitsy is about to find out whether the rewards of seeking revenge will outweigh the risks. 
Luckily, when the going gets tough, the ladies of Ten Beach Road know that their friendship - tried and tested - can chase away the darkest clouds and let the sun shine in.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: Best Beach Ever is the 6th book in the Ten Beach Road Series.  I love how the story for each person, Maddie, Nikki, Kyra, Avery and Bitsy, continue on.  However, you don't have to have read the others in the series to have an understanding of the book.  

Some of my favorite parts: Bitsy gets her revenge and closure.  While she isn't my favorite character, I am so happy with her happy ending.  Kyra finally standing up to Daniel.  I have been wishing for her to become strong and stand up for herself! Thank goodness, because I just wanted to shake some sense into her!  Nikki is struggling to be a "good mother to her twins and a good wife," while feeling like something is missing from her life.  I know several people (including myself) that can related to Nikki.  In the end, she figures it all out with the help of her friends and husband.  Avery was pushing Chase away, and that too is finally resolved.  Maddie was struggling to fit with her rocker's world and she too manages to work through it by finally being honest with Will.

I think Best Beach Ever, wrapped up everyones story....but maybe there will be a 7th book.  Best Beach Ever was another great read by Wendy Wax and perfect for summer.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  Yes.  I need to go back to the beginning and read the first three books in the series, since I started with Book 4, Sunshine Beach and read One Good Thing last summer.

Wendy Wax, a former broadcaster, is the author of numerous novels, including Sunshine BeachA Week at the LakeWhile We Were Watching Downton AbbeyThe House on Mermaid PointOcean Beach, and Ten Beach Road. The mother of two grown sons, she lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her husband and is doing her best to adjust to the quiet of her recently emptied nest.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

You Lucky Dog

~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): What do you do when you’re attending your own funeral but can’t tell the love of your life that you’re there, perfectly alive? Your wife doesn’t recognize you because you look slightly different. Well, more than slightly. You’re now a dog.  You Lucky Dog is the unlikely love story of Jake and Emma, a young couple thrown into a very unusual situation.

Jake and Emma appear to have everything going for them. A young married couple, they live with their dog in the leafy suburbs of Los Angeles. But after a horrible accident changes the course of their lives forever, Jake finds himself alive but living outside his body, and in the body of his dog.
What follows is a hilarious and heartwarming tale of misplaced identity. You Lucky Dogexplores the mysteries of life and death, and the enduring power of love, in a heartwarming story for animal lovers and all lovers.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: You don't have to be a dog lover to enjoy You Lucky Dog.  What a refreshing story with an unusual take on a husband's death!  You Lucky Dog was a very easy, quick and loaded with lots of laughs kind of read.  

Right from the beginning I was drawn in to the story.  I really liked the scenes where Emma and Jake would eat or she was on a date.  Perfect book to read any time of the year!

Would I Read Other Books by the Author:  I would read other book by Debra.  It was an easy and good read!

Debra Finerman is an American writer living part-time in Paris. The author of two published historical novels set in France, her latest book You Lucky Dog is a humorous contemporary romance. Shadow War, her second book, is a WWII novel inspired by plaques seen on walls throughout Paris dedicated to the brave Resistance Fighters shot by Nazi patrols. Her first novel, Mademoiselle Victorine, published by Random House Three Rivers Press, has been translated into six languages worldwide. Debra is a former journalist for Capital Style, The Hollywood Reporter monthly magazine, Beverly Hills Today and Beverly Hills Magazine.