July 22, 2016

Review & Giveaway! - The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

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Nestled deep within Paris’s historic Palais Royal, safe inside La Fantasie Russie’s once-bustling workshop, young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi spends her days making trench watches for soldiers at the front and mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. Opaline has a rare gift, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones enable her to receive messages from beyond. 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 of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

“Spellbinding.” —Alyson Richman, author of The Lost Wife


Much like the previous book, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, I immediately fell in love with both M.J. Rose's writing and the main character.  I like the angle of the stones that Rose chose to be Opaline's connection to the occult.  I thought this was a great second book for the series.

I really liked Opaline right from the start.  I found it easier to connect with Sandrine in the first book and that is probably due to her interest in art, which is also an interest and hobby of mine. Opaline connects through stones and works as a jeweler, which is very interesting, but it's not something I do so I think that was part of it. I also think part of it was that Sandrine was full of passion and rebellion and curiosity right from the start all the way through and Opaline is full of anxiety and reluctance and a desire to be normal and has to be coaxed and convinced into dealing with the La Lune gift.

I love that in a random passage on the way to a Russian Orthodox Church Opaline casually drops she went to Picasso's wedding there a few weeks ago with her parents like it was no big deal. I guess back then Picasso was just another artist like her mother, but I love that it was just part of her world to do something like that.

I liked the added backdrop of World War I Paris, as well as the Romanov dynasty coming to an end and how that effected her Russian mentor. It was a little more heavy-handed in the historical aspects than her previous book in this series, but what was included was very interesting.

I did want more of the magical realism aspect to be incorporated into the story, though. I know the historical aspect came up more mainly because a) Opaline is reluctant and resistant to her gifts so she is not seeking out the magical realm, and b) it is set during WWI and her job involves making mourning jewelry. However, I really wish it had more magical realism in the story.

I loved that more information on Sandrine's motives were revealed. I do wish that Sandrine (Opaline's mother) and the great-grandmother had been a little more of a part of the story. I never really connected to Anna, the jeweler's wife and Opaline's tutor in the occult.

I sometimes had trouble picturing in my head exactly what the intricate mourning jewelry Opaline created looked like. I would have loved to see a couple pieces drawn out and incorporated between paragraphs or even added in the back of the book. 

The Secret Language of Stones is a bit heavier of a story than The Witch because of the war going on and the nature of Opaline's job making mourning jewelry for the mothers of soldiers killed in battle. The mourning jewelry using a lock of the soldier's hair with the precious stones is what triggers Opaline's gift of hearing the soldiers speaking to her from the other side. 

One thing that kind of bugged me was that in a scene in which Opaline visits and looks at a painting in the Louvre by French master Fragonard entitled The Bolt, Rose basically copied the insight into the painting from the Louvre website or maybe she copied an art critic. It's basically verbatim from the site. Even in university my art history professor could explain the erotic symbolism using different ideas and words.  Doesn't Opaline have any original thoughts on the painting that is supposed to be rapidly expanding her world into that of erotic and sensual thought?  Doesn't M.J. Rose as an author have a talent for wording things differently? Not as an impressive scene as it was meant to beIt took me completely out of the story.

Overall, even though I enjoyed the first book in the series more, I enjoyed this one, as well, and I do recommend it to you! Other than the things I mentioned above, there is no fault to find in the book. M.J. Rose has really been honing her craft and the writing is beautiful. You can read The Secret Language of Stones without reading the first book, but reading The Witch of Painted Sorrows will help you understand both Opaline and the history of La Lune and the Daughters of La Lune better.  



"What does it take to make a grain of sand become a pearl? They say the sand is an irritant. Maybe love starts that way, too. You're alone in yourself and then meet someone who upsets your balance, who you can't quite explain away or put in a comfortable place. Someone who shakes your very soul. Who has ideas that jar you and make you think. Who does more than understand you, who understands what you need."

"If I were there with you now in the gallery, I would touch your neck behind your ear, with my lips, and whisper to you to just look at the painting. Not to turn to me. And while you studied the Watteau, my lips would travel down your neck until you'd need to put your hand out to steady yourself."

"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."

 "Under the marvelous Palais courtyard and fountains and gardens lay a mysterious world (the carrieres) where no light penetrated and the only sounds were made by rats, falling rocks, or men stealing through secret spaces. At least that was all most people heard. For me, other sounds, terrible sounds, haunted me."



You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.

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Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway open to US residents only: 9 participants will each win a print copy of this book.



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mj-roseM.J. Rose
grew up in New York City
exploring the labyrinthine galleries
of the Metropolitan Museum
and the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park
—and reading her mother’s favorite books
before she was allowed.
She is the author of more than a dozen novels,
the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers,
and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com.
She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Please visit her website, her blog: Museum of Mysteries
Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases, free book downloads,
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Buy the book:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  | Indiebound | Books A Million

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