Featured

Today, I’m reviewing the rather fabulous The Maids of Biddenden by GD Harper as part of the #blogtour #histfic #12thCentury

Here’s the blurb:

‘There is no me; there is no you.

There is only us.’

The Maids of Biddenden is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1100 into a wealthy family from a small Kent village.

Joined at the hip, the sisters overcome fear and hostility to grow into gifted and much-loved women ­– one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants. Entangled in the struggles for power and influence of the great Kent nobles of the time, they achieve much in their lifetimes and leave behind a legacy in Biddenden that survives to this day.

This is the heart-warming and inspirational story of two remarkable women leading one joint life, challenging adversity to become the best they can be.

Review

The Maids of Biddenden is that rare beast which entirely absorbs the reader from page one. Helped by a flowing style of writing, and the immediate and impending danger that the twins find themselves in as six-year-olds, the reader is entirely absorbed in the story, and their fate, so much so that it’s difficult to put the book down. That said, it is not just the twins themselves that drive the story – the people they interact with, those with their best and worst interests at heart – are all believable and well written, and there are occasions when the reader will be left frustrated and angered that some seem to face little punishment for their actions. The story has a number of points of view, and I found that they all worked very well – offering a view of the twins as they think of themselves, and also as others perceived them.

The story is effectively split in two; the first 45% tells the story of the Maids as young children. This element of the story is filled with a deep sense of foreboding that drives the story onward and makes the reader fearful for the future of the Maids. The narrative then moves forward a few years, and we see them as young women, trying to make a name for themselves and use their talents for good. At this point, the immediate landscape that the Maids encounter broadens considerably, and we move away from the nunnery and the settlement of Biddenden, into the politics and events of the early twelfth century, that almost consume the lives of the Maids for the remainder of their years – they lived during the time of the tragedy of the White Ship.

The story doesn’t so much lose focus here, but because the impending danger has passed, the reader is instead absorbed in how the twins accomplish all that they do. There is a great deal of attention to detail here – both medical knowledge and music – and it’s fascinating to see how the Maids’ lives interact with known events from the period.

This is a delightful story. I was entirely engrossed and found myself snatching what time I could to carry on reading it – something that doesn’t happen all that often. I highly, highly recommend The Maids of Biddenden for fans of historical fiction, and also for those who don’t normally read the genre. The challenges that the twins face are well told, and the reaction their appearance sparks are conveyed well, although as the reader you will be offended by the prevailing belief that they are Godless and a monstrosity, and the fact that they were a ‘sight to see’ as opposed to always being appreciated for who they were and what they could accomplish. The historical notes at the back of the novel are also fascinating.

A truly heart-warming story.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maids-Biddenden-heart-warming-inspirational-12th-century-ebook/dp/B09ZBKX9S4/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Maids-Biddenden-heart-warming-inspirational-12th-century-ebook/dp/B09ZBKX9S4/

Meet the author

I became a full-time author in 2016, publishing three novels under the pen name GD Harper. I have been both a Wishing Shelf Book Award finalist and Red Ribbon winner, been shortlisted for the Lightship Prize, longlisted for the UK Novel Writing Award and longlisted for the Page Turner Writer Award. The Maids of Biddenden was a finalist in this year’s Page Turner Book Award for unpublished manuscripts, longlisted for the Exeter Book Prize and the Flash 500 Novel Award, and shortlisted for the Impress Prize. 

Connect with GD Harper

Facebook: @gdharperauthor

Twitter: @harper_author

Website: www.gdharper.com

https://www.instagram.com/gdharperauthor/

Follow The Maids of Biddenden blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

Today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for A Harvest Murder by Frances Evesham #blogtour #cosycrime

Here’s the blurb:

One unexplained disappearance is strange, but two are sinister.

In Lower Hembrow, an idyllic village nestled beneath Ham Hill in Somerset, the villagers are preparing to enjoy the autumn traditions of the rural English countryside until Joe Trevillion, a curmudgeonly local farmer and the father of six children, vanishes.

When Adam Hennessy, the ex-detective proprietor of The Plough, the village’s popular Inn, investigates, he finds ominous undercurrents beneath apparently harmless rumour and gossip.

Meanwhile, a vicious campaign of vindictiveness forces Adam and his three amateur sleuth friends to dig deep into the secret lives of their neighbours to expose the source of a cruel vendetta and prevent another death.

As they uncover the disturbing truth, the friends learn they must also lay their own past lives to rest before they can hope to make their dreams for the future come true.

Purchase Link  – https://amzn.to/3tNDDDd

Review

A Harvest Murder is the first Ham Hill Murder Mystery I’ve read, but it was easy to get to know the four main characters and I’m sure other readers will be able to jump right in if they want to. Mind – there are a few references to the earlier books, so if you do, it might spoil your enjoyment of books 1 and 2 in the series.

I found the characters and the twin mysteries to be intriguing. The residents of Lower Hembrow are a typically mixed bunch of nosy do-gooders and those trying to keep their secrets just that, secret. Much of the action takes place in the local pub, listening to gossip from the locals, and if it’s not at the pub, then it’s at the local hotel, either on Cider Night or Guy Fawkes Night. The book feels very autumnal.

An enjoyable, cosy read that makes you think of toffee apples, and pumpkins. This won’t be the only book in the series that I read.

Meet the author

Frances Evesham is the bestselling author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea murder mysteries set in her home county of Somerset, and the Ham-Hill cosy crime series set in South Somerset.

Connect with Frances

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/frances.evesham.writer/

Twitter https://twitter.com/francesevesham

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/francesevesham/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/FrancesEveshamNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/frances-evesham

Featured

Today, I’m welcoming Vicky Adin and her book, Gwenna, The Welsh Confectioner to the blog #blogtour #histfic

Here’s the blurb:

Against overwhelming odds, can she save her legacy?


Gwenna’s life is about to change. Her father is dead and the family business on the brink of collapse. Thwarted by society, the plucky sweet maker refuses to accept defeat.

Amid the bustling vibrancy of Auckland’s Karangahape Road, she promised her father she would fulfil his dreams and save her legacy. But thanks to her overbearing stepbrother that legacy is at risk. Gwenna must find hidden strengths and fight for her rights if she is to keep her promise. 

She falls in love with the cheeky and charming Johnno, but just when things are beginning to look up, disaster strikes. Throughout the twists and turns of love and tragedy, Gwenna is irrepressible. She refuses to relinquish her goal and lets nothing and no one stand in her way. Blind to anything that could distract her, Gwenna overlooks the most important person in her life, putting her dreams, her family, and her chance at happiness in jeopardy. 

Trigger Warnings:

Domestic violence, death.

Buy Links:

Available on Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon UKAmazon US: Amazon CAAmazon AU:

Universal series links:

Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner

Brigid The Girl from County Clare

The Costumier’s Gift: 

Meet the Author

Vicky Adin is a family historian in love with the past. Like the characters in her stories, she too, is an immigrant to New Zealand, arriving a century after her first protagonists and ready to start a new life. 

Born in Wales, she grew up in Cornwall until aged 12. Her family emigrated to New Zealand, a country she would call home. Vicky draws on her affinity for these places in her writing. Fast forward a few years, and she marries a fourth-generation Kiwi bloke with Irish, Scottish and English ancestors and her passion for genealogy flourishes.

The further she dug into the past the more she wanted to record the lives of the people who were the foundations of her new country. Not just her ancestors but all those who braved the oceans and became pioneers in a raw new land. Her research into life as it was for those immigrants in the mid-late 1800s and early 1900s gave her enough material to write about the land left behind and the birth of a new nation for many years. 

Vicky holds a MA(Hons) in English, is a lover of art, antiques, gardens, good food and red wine. She and her husband travel throughout New Zealand in their caravan and travel the world when they can. She hopes that younger generations also enjoy learning about the past through her stories as much as she had in writing them. 

Connect with Vicky

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

LinkedInInstagramPinterest

BookBubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow the tour for Gwenna, The Welsh Confectioner with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

Today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the #blogtour for #SisterAgatha:The World’s Oldest Serial Killer by Domhnall O’Donoghue

Here’s the blurb:

Sister Agatha: The World’s Oldest Serial Killer

Sister Agatha is 118 years of age, whose vim and vigour would put the most robust athletes to shame. However, during a routine check-up, her doctor claims that she has just a week to live – inconvenient, seeing as the beloved sister once made an improbable vow: to be the oldest person in the world. At last count, she was the fifth. 

Never one to admit defeat, Sister Agatha concocts a bold Plan B. Using her final days, she intends on travelling the world to meet the only four people whose birthday cakes boast more candles than hers. 

And then, one by one, she will kill them. 

My Review

Sister Agatha is a wonderful comedy. Sister Agatha herself is a fabulous creation, as are the people she meets and interacts with.

I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions and intersections throughout the story, and Sister Agatha gets to meet a varied cast of characters, and they too have their own stories told throughout the narrative. The whole premise is really quite clever, and thoroughly enjoyable.

If you’re looking for a gentle comedy, dark in places, then this is definitely for you.

Purchase Links 

UK- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sister-Agatha-Worlds-Oldest-Serial-ebook/dp/B09X21ZNY2/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Sister-Agatha-Worlds-Oldest-Serial-ebook/dp/B09X21ZNY2/

Meet the author

Hailing from Navan in the royal county of Meath, Domhnall is a graduate of the Bachelor in Acting Studies Programme, Trinity College Dublin, later completing a Master’s in Screenwriting at Dún Laoghaire IADT.

He now works as an actor and a journalist, dividing his time between Galway, where he films TG4’s award-winning series, Ros na Rún, Dublin and Venice, where he and his Italian lover continuously promise their well-worn livers that they will refrain from quaffing so much Prosecco. (Unfortunately, it seems some vows, just like nearby Rome, were not built in a day.)

Wine-drinking aside, for more than four years, Domhnall has also enjoyed the responsibility of being Assistant Editor at Irish Tatler Man, a title whose various awards includes Consumer Magazine of the Year. Thanks to this role, he interviewed a host of high-profile names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Chris Pine, Kevin Spacey, David Gandy, and Jacques Villeneuve.

Domhnall has written for the majority of Ireland’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and RTE. He also writes a monthly column in Woman’s Way, the country’s biggest-selling weekly magazine.

His first novel, Sister Agatha: the World’s Oldest Serial Killer, was released in 2016 to critical acclaim (Tirgearr Publishing). His second and third books, Colin and the Concubine and Crazy for You were published by Mercier Press, Ireland’s oldest publishing house. 

Connect with Domhnall

FB – Domhnall O’Donoghue (facebook.com)

T – https://twitter.com/Domhnall1982

IG – https://instagram.com/domhnall82

Featured

Today, I’m excited to be taking part in the blog blitz for Fantasy Short Stories by Suzanne Rogerson #blogtour #fantasy

Fantasy Short Stories

A collection of stories featuring favourite characters from Visions of Zarua and ‘Silent Sea Chronicles’, plus a glimpse into the new series, ‘Starlight Prophecy’.

The Guardian

With an assassin picking off wizards one-by-one, Kalesh visits Cassima, a former student, hoping to persuade her to re-join the Royal Wizards and use their protection to keep her family safe.

Kalesh’s newest charge, Paddren, has strange visions which link to a past event known only to a select few. The knowledge hidden in Paddren’s visions is invaluable so Kalesh must guard the boy at any cost.

Can Kalesh keep his students off the assassin’s radar long enough for his order to stop the killer?

Garrick the Protector

Fifteen-year-old Garrick is helping at his uncle’s farm when his cousin’s illegal use of magic threatens the family’s safety.

Mara is in immediate danger from the Assembly who deem all magic as a threat. The only safe place for her is the Turrak Mountains where exiled mystics have found sanctuary alongside the island’s Sentinel.

Can Garrick get Mara to safety before the Assembly catch up with them?

War Wounds

Conscripted to fight off raiders, Calder finds the months of bloody battle unleash a sixth sense buried inside him.

Finally released from duty, he travels home and encounters a mysterious woman who insists his life is destined to serve a higher purpose. Calder rejects her claims, wanting only to return to a simple existence with his wife.

But can Calder pick up his old life when the powers within him have been stirred? And why does he feel such misgivings about his return?

All three stories give readers a tantalising glimpse into the fantasy worlds created by Suzanne Rogerson.

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/fantasySS

My Review

I’ve really enjoyed this short story collection by Suzanne Rogerson.

All of the snippets of stories are well written, and certainly very intriguing. I will certainly be checking out the full stories on Amazon.

If you enjoy fantasy with a touch of magic, and some really intriguing storylines, I would highly recommend this collection of short stories. These are certainly ‘my sort’ of fantasy stories, so if you’ve read my Dragon of Unison stories, you’ll know what that means, and if you haven’t, then I’m going to say that these stories hint at books and trilogies filled with magic, and not too much graphic violence, and with a cast of strong characters, both male and female. I recommend you check out these short stories to see what you’re going to get. I’m really pleased that I did:)

Meet Suzanne

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her husband, two children and a crazy cocker spaniel.

Her writing journey began at the age of twelve when she completed her first novel. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave Suzanne the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Now an author of four novels including the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and her debut, Visions of Zarua, Suzanne hopes the dreaded ‘W’ word will never rear its ugly head again!

She loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

Suzanne collects books, is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles and old ruins whilst being immersed in the past. She likes to combine her love of nature and photography on family walks, but most of all she loves to escape with a great film, binge watch TV shows, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

Connect with Suzanne

Twitter

Goodreads

BookBub

Amazon

Facebook

Instagram

Newsletter

Featured

Son of Mercia is a #BookBub deal in the US, and on special offer on Kobo in the US/Canada

Happy weekend everyone:)

I’m just sharing with you two exciting special offers for Son of Mercia ‘over the pond.’

Son of Mercia is currently a BookBub deal in the US and riding high in the Amazon Kindle charts.

amzn.to/3IDkAAP

And if that’s not enough, Son of Mercia is also running on promotion on Kobo in the US and Canada.

https://kobo.com/us/en/ebook/son-of-mercia…

https://kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/son-of-mercia…

Featured

Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from G M Baker’s new book, The Wistful and the Good #histfic #blogtour

The Wistful and the Good

Excerpt

Granny Hunith, was an elderly woman. Edith had been her last child and she was well past her sixtieth year, though no one seemed to remember when she was born, and if she knew herself, she was not telling. Hunith and Kendra had disputed for several years over which of them was the elder, for it was some distinction to be the oldest woman in the village. Kendra’s impending death would secure Hunith her supremacy, an event she looked on with a mixture of triumph and regret. 

She was sitting on a bench outside her hut, a spindle busy in her hands while she watched several small children—offspring of Elswyth’s Welisc cousins—playing in the dirt at her feet. She was dressed in rough-spun brown like a slave, though underneath she wore fine-spun linen, so as not to itch from the wool. She had the face of an aging well-tanned cherub, framed with long grey hair that her various daughters and granddaughters, noble and slave alike, kept immaculately combed for her. 

The children leapt up and ran to attach themselves to Elswyth’s skirts when they saw her coming, begging for the nuts or apples that Elswyth usually had with her when she came to visit Granny. But today she had forgotten to bring anything, so she kissed each of them on the cheek and sent them away. 

“Hello, Granny,” she said as they approached. She and Leif were hand in hand, though neither had consciously offered a hand to the other. 

“So you’ve brought your swain to see me at last, Elsy,” Hunith said. 

“No, Granny, this is Leif.”

“Help me up, young man,” Hunith said. 

Leif offered her his hand and she pulled herself to her feet. She did not let go of his hand, however, but held him with one hand while she inspected him with the other, testing the muscle in his arm and forcing open his mouth so she could inspect his teeth. She lifted the corner of his bandage and made him bend over so that she could smell the wound.

“It’s fresh, Granny,” Elswyth said. “It wouldn’t smell yet. I bound it with honey so it would not fester.”

Hunith nodded. “Well, he’s fit,” she said, when she had completed her inspection. “Very tall. Tall men are good in battle, but it can be hard work birthing their babies. Big babies could get stuck inside a wee thing like you.”

“I’m not having his babies, Granny.”

“Waiting till the wedding, then? You are taking her on faith, young man? Don’t worry, we’re a fertile lot, and we birth easy.”

“I’m not marrying him, Granny. I’m marrying Drefan. Don’t you remember? This is Leif, the captain of the Norsk ship on the beach.”

“Norsk? You still remember the old gods, young man?”

“We honor Odin, Thor, and Ran.”

“And what of the Christ, then?”

“I will give no offence to your Christ, in his own country.”

“Good lad. Will you be taking Elsy back to Norway, when you marry?”

“I am not marrying your granddaughter, Lady.”

“Lady? You’re not in the hall now, young man. I’m not an Anglish lady, and I won’t hear it said. You heed me?”

“Yes…”

“You should call me Granny, since you are marrying Elsy.”

“He’s not marrying me, Granny. I’m marrying Drefan. You would have met him several times already, if only you would come to the hall when he visits.”

“I’ll not go to the hall, and Drefan of Bamburgh will not come down to the slave huts to visit me. But this young jarl of yours, he comes to see me when you ask him to. He regards the whole of you, not the half. He will make you a good husband.”

“But I’m not marrying him, Granny. Stop being dense. I know you’re not really.”

“She has a temper, this one,” Hunith said, still holding on to Leif’s hand. “But she has a good heart. Do not beat her. She will disobey you sometimes, but she will be sorry for it. She has a good heart, and beating would only turn her sour.”

“I would never beat her,” Leif said.

“You will be a good husband. She will be a good wife. She can’t sew, but she will entertain your guests and take good care of your children.”

“Granny…”

“You may tell your mother I approve the match,” Hunith said, dropping Leif’s hand and taking both of Elswyth’s hands in her own. Then she pulled Elswyth close and whispered. “Come to me before your wedding night. I have a salve that will make things easy for you, and herbs to put in his food, and a charm for under the pillow.”

“I’m sorry, Leif,” Elswyth said. “Sometimes she’s lucid as a bishop and sometimes she’s just dotty. This must be a dotty day. Let’s go and see if the monk has finished his prayers.

Elswyth kissed her grandmother goodbye. Leif bowed to her and thanked her for receiving him. They turned and walked back toward the hall, her hand falling into his again, without either of them noticing. 

Hunith sat back on her bench, picked up her spindle, and watched them go, a contented smile on her face. She could always tell when the weather was changing, long before other people noticed the sun come out or the clouds roll in.

Here’s the blurb:

The mighty are undone by pride, the bold by folly, and the good by wistfulness. 

Elswyth’s mother was a slave, but her father is a thegn, and Drefan, the man she is to marry, is an ealdorman’s son. But though Elswyth is content with the match, and waits only for Drefan to notice that she has come to womanhood, still she finds herself gazing seaward, full of wistful longing.

From the sea come Norse traders, bringing wealth, friendship, and tales of distant lands. But in this year of grace 793 the sea has brought a great Viking raid that has devastated the rich monastery of Lindisfarne. Norse are suddenly not welcome in Northumbria, and when Elswyth spots a Norse ship approaching the beach in her village of Twyford, her father fears a Viking raid.

But the ship brings trouble of a different kind. Leif has visited Twyford many times as a boy, accompanying his father on his voyages. But now he returns in command of his father’s ship and desperate to raise his father’s ransom by selling a cargo of Christian holy books. Elswyth is fascinated by the books and the pictures they contain of warm and distant lands. 

But when Drefan arrives, investigating reports of the sighting of a Norse ship, Elswyth must try to keep the peace between Drefan and Leif, and tame the wistfulness of her restless heart.  

Buy Links:

Universal Link: 

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Apple Books

Laterpress

Meet the author

G. M. Baker has been a newspaper reporter, managing editor, freelance writer, magazine contributor, PhD candidate, seminarian, teacher, desktop publisher, programmer, technical writer, department manager, communications director, non-fiction author, speaker, consultant, and grandfather. He has published stories in The Atlantic AdvocateFantasy BookNew England’s Coastal JournalOur FamilyStorytellerSolander, and Dappled Things. There was nothing much left to do but become a novelist. 

Connect with the author

Website: Twitter: FacebookLinkedIn

Amazon Author PageGoodreads:  Substack Newsletter: 

Follow The Wistful and the Good by G M Baker blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

Today, I’m excited to share a fab post by Tony Riches about his new book, Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer #BlogTour

Inspiration to write Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer.

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

This journey began when I was researching for an historical novel about Henry Tudor, who like me was born in the town of Pembroke, Wales. I eventually uncovered enough original material to write three books, with Henry being born in the first, coming of age in the second and becoming King of England in the third. 

The result was my best-selling Tudor Trilogy, and I decided to continue the stories of the Tudors in a continuous line. I also made a conscious decision to tell the stories through those surrounding King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, so we see different facets of these complex rulers through the eyes of others.

For my Elizabethan series I chose three very different favourites of the queen, who each saw different sides of her personality. Sir Francis Drake showered her with gold and jewels, stolen from the Spanish, in return for the status he longed for. The Earl of Essex was like the errant son she never had, but Raleigh became her protector, Captain of the Guard, and lived to see the last days of the Tudor dynasty.

Many of the things I thought I knew about Walter Raleigh proved to be wrong. Raleigh is credited with introducing the potato and tobacco to Britain, but I’ve seen no evidence for either, or for the popular tale of a servant throwing water over him when he mistook the smoke from Raleigh’s pipe for a fire!

Sir_Walter_Raleigh_being_doused

I followed Raleigh across the Irish Sea to the sleepy harbour at Youghal, where he had a house and became Mayor, as well as to the bustling city of Cork, where he served in the English Army of occupation. I also visited Raleigh’s house at Sherborne in Dorset, which still has many original features.

Sherborne Castle

My research uncovered a comprehensive collection of original letters and poetry written by Raleigh. As well as helping me understand his motivation, and the timeline of complex events, they also gave me a sense of his ‘voice’, and how he spoke to the queen and others of her court.

I relied on the comprehensive records of the Elizabethan Court, which set out events in fascinating detail.  I was also lucky to read ‘A Woman of Noble Wit’, a new novel by Rosemary Griggs, about Raleigh’s mother. This led me to explore Walter Raleigh’s relationship with his father, as well as his mother, an aspect of him largely ignored by historical biographers.

My hope is that Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer will help readers see beyond the myths and half-truths, and have a better understanding of the man who has been called the last true Elizabethan.

Thank you so much for sharing. Your research sounds fabulous, and I too am reading A Woman of Noble Wit. Good luck with the new release.

Here’s the blurb:

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.

Buy Links:

Available on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

Meet the author

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular ‘Stories of the Tudors’ podcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

Connect with Tony:

BlogWebsitePodcastTwitter

FacebookInstagramAmazon Author Page

Follow the blog tour for Raleigh: Tudor Adventurer by Tony Riches with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

I’m delighted to share my review for The Hostage of Rome by Robert M Kidd #blogtour

The Hostage of Rome is the third book in The Histories of Sphax, but it is the first book in the series that I’ve read. While I’m sure that I’ve missed out by jumping straight into book 3, I didn’t find starting the book difficult – not at all. Sphax is an easy and engaging character to meet, as are those who surround him. And, now I have books 1 and 2 to enjoy as well. I have no problem reading any series out of order:)

From the very first word, the action is pretty much non-stop, and the writing style is engaging and easy going.

I’m not often a visitor to BC era Rome – many of the Roman novels I’ve read have been set during the early centuries of the AD era – but I’m so glad I made the jump back in time.

The Hostage of Rome is an enjoyable and entertaining read, and I’m so pleased I decided to read it.

Here’s the blurb:

217 BC. Rome has been savaged, beaten and is in retreat. Yet, in that winter of winters, her garrisons cling on behind the walls of Placentia and Cremona, thanks to her sea-born supplies. If he could be freed, a hostage of Rome may yet hold the key to launching a fleet of pirates that could sweep Rome from the seas. For that hostage is none other than Corinna’s son Cleon, rival heir to the throne of Illyria, held in Brundisium, four hundred miles south of the Rubicon. 

But Hannibal is set on a greater prize! Macedon is the great power in Greece, feared even by Rome. Its young king, Philip, is being compared with his illustrious ancestor, Alexander the Great. An alliance with Macedon would surely sound the death knell for Rome.          

Given Hannibal’s blessing, Sphax, Idwal and Corinna face an epic journey against impossible odds. Navigating the length of the Padus, past legionary garrisons and hostile Gauls, they must then risk the perils of the storm-torn Adria in the depths of the winter. If the gods favour them and they reach the lands of the pirate queen, only then will their real trials begin. 

Purchase Links

UK US

Meet the author

When Cato the Censor demanded that ‘Carthage must be destroyed,’ Rome did just that. In 146 BC, after a three year siege, Carthage was raised to the ground, its surviving citizens sold into slavery and the fields where this once magnificent city had stood, ploughed by oxen. Carthage was erased from history.

That’s why I’m a novelist on a mission! I want to set the historical record straight. Our entire history of Hannibal’s wars with Rome is nothing short of propaganda, written by Greeks and Romans for their Roman clients. It intrigues me that Hannibal took two Greek scholars and historians with him on campaign, yet their histories of Rome’s deadliest war have never seen the light of day. 

My hero, Sphax the Numidian, tells a different story!

When I’m not waging war with my pen, I like to indulge my passion for travel and hill walking, and like my hero, I too love horses. I live in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

https://robertmkidd.com/

https://twitter.com/RobertMKidd1

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064169594911

Giveaway to Win Book 6 in The Histories of Sphax series to be dedicated to the winner, & a signed dedicated copy too (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494502/?

Follow The Hostage of Rome tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

It’s release day for Wolf of Mercia, book 2 in the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles

I’m really excited for this one. I truly hope you, as my readers, will love this second book in young Icel’s story. My beta readers assure me it’s very good, and in fact, one of them was up until 3am reading the end:)

Here’s the blurb:

As a lone wolf inside a Wessex stronghold, Icel must ensure his own and Mercia’s triumph.

Icel is becoming a warrior of Mercia, but King Ecgberht of Wessex still holds the Mercian settlement of Londonia and its valuable mint.

King Wiglaf of Mercia is determined that the last bulwark be reclaimed from his sworn enemy to complete his rehabilitation as Mercia’s rightful ruler.

In the heart of the shield wall, Icel suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the battle and thrust into the retreating enemy stronghold where he must take on the pretence of a Wessex warrior to survive and exact a cunning plan to bring down the Wessex force cowering behind the ancient walls.

His allegiances are tested and the temptation to make new allies is overwhelming but Icel must succeed if he’s ever to see Tamworth again and bring about King Wiglaf’s victory, or will he be forced to join the enemy?

books2read.com/Wolf-of-Mercia

Wolf of Mercia will be on blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources for the next week. Do check out the stops on the blog, which I’ll add as it goes along.

Www.davidsbookblurg.co.uk
https://www.thepursuitofbookiness.co.uk/
https://ruinsandreading.blogspot.com/
bookishjottings.wordpress.com
www.reviewsfeed.net
https://overtherainbowbookblog.co.uk/
https://www.instagram.com/imreadingmybook/
https://medium.com/@authorbeccamcculloch
https://www.instagram.com/eamons/
https://thestrawberrypost.wordpress.com/
http://www.nikipreston.com/

And, don’t forget to sign up for my Boldwood Books newsletter to keep up to date with special offers and new release information, and also to enter competitions – there will a release day competition to win some signed copies of book 2.

https://bit.ly/MJPorterNews

And, if that isn’t enough, book 3, Warrior of Mercia, is available for preorder now.

Featured

Happy release day and review for The Amir by Elizabeth R Andersen (The Two Daggers book 3) #histfic #NewRelease

Here’s the blurb:

Acre has fallen.

In the frantic days after the Mamluk army brutally sacked their city, Sidika and Emre find themselves in Egypt at the house of an ambitious amir to Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil. Emre, reinstated to his position in the Mamluk army, plays a dangerous game, pitting the sultan’s amirs against each other in a bid to increase his influence in the royal court. Sidika, captured as a slave, can only think of Henri and escape. But when Emre comes up with a risky plan to help her flee Cairo, how far is she willing to go for her freedom?

Henri, now living in Francia among hostile relatives, dreams of finding Sidika and ransoming her, but he cannot avoid a nobleman’s duties: arranged marriage awaits him. As he attempts to settle into his new life, a group of outcasts arrives in Maron, causing an uproar. By protecting them, Henri does what he knows is right, but the consequences could be deadly.

Love, lust, revenge, and loss push Henri, Sidika, and Emre toward adulthood in the third book in The Two Daggers series, following them through social and political turbulence at the sunset of the Levantine crusades.

My Review

The Amir by Elizabeth R Andersen, is a thoroughly engrossing read. I’m not a stranger to what happened during The Crusades, but in The Amir, the author has chosen three main characters who can provide interconnected and unique perspective on what it must have been like for those affected by the fall of Acre.

I found the reimagining of Egypt to be thoroughly engrossing, and I read it at a time when I was also reading a Roman era novel set in Egypt, and when Death on the Nile was released at the cinema, and so I really could imagine the heat and the sand, and the crocodiles!

Poor Henri, travelling to a land he’s never visited, really does seem incapable of doing anything right, and with a collection of relatives who wish him harm, I really felt for him, even while he frustrated me. Both Henri and Sidika, while one is a nobleman, and one a slave, are truly trapped by the events that have befallen them in their lives.

It is Sidika and her experiences that really thrilled during the novel. She is an incredibly strong character, and I can’t wait to read more of her story in book 4.

An engrossing story, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I wish Elizabeth R Andersen every success with the release of her new book. You can check out her blog tour post for the series here from earlier in the year.

Buy Link:

Meet the author

Elizabeth R. Andersen’s debut novel, The Scribe, launched in July of 2021. Although she spent many years of her life as a journalist, independent fashion designer, and overworked tech employee, there have always been two consistent loves in her life: writing and history. She finally decided to do something about this and put them both together. 

Elizabeth lives in the Seattle area with her long-suffering husband and young son. On the weekends she usually hikes in the stunning Cascade mountains to hide from people and dream up new plotlines and characters. Elizabeth is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Connect with Elizabeth

WebsiteTwitterFacebook:  Instagram

PinterestBookBubAmazon Author Page

Goodreads

Featured

Today, I’m delighted to showcase Mercedes Rochelle’s new book, The Accursed King #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

What happens when a king loses his prowess? The day Henry IV could finally declare he had vanquished his enemies, he threw it all away with an infamous deed. No English king had executed an archbishop before. And divine judgment was quick to follow. Many thought he was struck with leprosy—God’s greatest punishment for sinners. From that point on, Henry’s health was cursed and he fought doggedly on as his body continued to betray him—reducing this once great warrior to an invalid. Fortunately for England, his heir was ready and eager to take over. But Henry wasn’t willing to relinquish what he had worked so hard to preserve. No one was going to take away his royal prerogative—not even Prince Hal. But Henry didn’t count on Hal’s dauntless nature, which threatened to tear the royal family apart. 

Buy Links:

This book is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription

Series Links:

A King Under Siege (Book 1)

The King’s Retribution (Book 2)

The Usurper King (Book 3)

The Accursed King (Book 4)

Amazon UKAmazon US:   Amazon CA:   Amazon AU

Meet the author

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

Connect with Mercedes

Website: Twitter: Facebook

BookBub: Amazon Author Page: Goodreads

Follow The Accursed King blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

It’s my turn on the #Argo by Mark Knowles blog tour #BladesofBronze

Here’s the blurb

An action-led reimagining of the famous Greek myth, Jason and the Golden Fleece, brilliantly told by classicist Mark Knowles.

He has come to take what is yours…

Iolkos, Thessaly. 1230 BC. King Pelias has grown paranoid, tormented by his murderous past and a prophecy of the man who will one day destroy him.

When a stranger arrives to compete in the Games of Poseidon, Pelias is horried, for this young man should never have grown to manhood. He is Jason, Pelias’ nephew, who survived his uncle’s assassins as a child. Now Jason wants his revenge – and the kingdom.

But Pelias is cunning as well as powerful. He gives his foe an impossible challenge: to claim the throne, Jason must first steal the fabled Golden Fleece of Colchis.

Jason assembles a band of Greece’s finest warriors. They are the Argonauts, named for their trusty ship. But even with these mighty allies, Jason will have to overcome the brutal challenges hurled his way. His mission and many lives depend on his wits – and his sword.

PRAISE FOR ARGO AND MARK KNOWLES:

‘Mark Knowles has taken the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and stripped it down to its bare bones… What is left is a deeply researched historical epic, so brilliantly brought to life I could taste the salt air on my tongue… Epic battles, well- rounded characters sailing through a brilliantly described world’ Adam Lofthouse, author of The Centurion’s Son

‘What a spectacular triumph! Knowles has taken a reassuringly familiar legend and elevated it into a new, realistic and engrossing story’ Sam Taw

‘[Knowles] has teamed his love of learning classics and childhood love of sword-and- sandals epics to accomplish something remarkable’ Boarding Schools’ Association

Review

The legends of Greece don’t often cross my mind when I’m thinking of stories to read, but I read a wonderful retelling of the legend of Troy last year, and so I was really intrigued to be invited to read Argo by Mark Knowles. And I’m so pleased I did.

Argo is a rich retelling of the journey to retrieve the Golden Fleece, populated with a cast of characters with names even I recognised. Some of them leap from the page more clearly than others, as is to be expected with such a large cast, and the ship, Argo itself, is one of the clearest, for even someone such as me to imagine. Reading the author’s bio, it’s easy to see why the ship is such an important part of the story.

I was swept away by the tale, and intrigued to know how it would all end. I should probably have known, but I didn’t.

The story is rich in detail, the journey told in great detail, as are the stops along the way, and the people the Argonauts interact with. It certainly builds in tension so that the last quarter of the book went by in a flash. This truly is a wonderful reimagining of the legends of Jason, the Argonauts and of course, Argo.

I’m lucky to have been given an advanced copy of the sequel Jason, and I’m powering my way through the book now, which, luckily, starts exactly where Argo stops, and I was so pleased I had book 2 straight to hand. Do check back for me review.

Curious? Here’s a link for Argo.

https://amzn.to/3Ltsqx8

Just to reassure everyone, there is a fab map!

Meet the author

Mark Knowles took degrees in Classics and Management Studies at Downing College, Cambridge. After a decade working as a frontline officer and supervisor within the Metropolitan Police Service, he became Head of Classics at a school in Harrogate. He is a particular fan of experimental archaeology and rowed on the reconstructed ancient Athenian trireme Olympias during its last sea trials in Greece in 1994.

If you missed the introduction to Jason from Mark Knowles on Monday, here it is again.

Introduction to Jason by Mark Knowles

Getting Argo home in the process of writing JASON was great fun. In fact, once I’d got the route straight in my head, it gave me the most joy I’ll probably ever have in writing a story. It presented an opportunity to weave together as many strands of myth as I could without – I hope – stretching credibility. And what more could an unashamed Classics geek want? JASON features an all-star ancient Greek cast: Circe, Talos, the Sirens, King Minos, Ariadne, the Minotaur, and the Oracle, ranging over a vast landscape from as far north as the Danube to Crete in the south. 

‘Sprouting wings and flying home would have been a more useful suggestion!’ So says Idas, a thorn in Jason’s side, as options are discussed to outwit the ships blockading the Black Sea straits. His comments are apposite when looking at the wackier ancient suggestions for the return leg of Jason’s voyage. In one surviving version of the myth, we see Argo traversing the Sahara; in another, sailing to Greece via Scandinavia. Needless to say, all these routes (but one) are physically impossible. But what an opportunity for a writer to stretch the imagination!

I even discovered a lost island when researching the route. An old map of the Anatolian coastline based on a Roman geographer’s work showed an island just off the Thracian coast (modern day Bulgaria), which some natural disaster or other seems to have swallowed in the Middle Ages. As soon as I saw it, I had to have it for Circe’s mysterious island of Aea. This sums up the spirit in which JASON was written. I hope, in joining this epic voyage, you make some discoveries of your own.

Preorder Jason here.

https://amzn.to/3PvpuTV

Featured

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Lindsey S Fera to the blog with her new book, Muskets and Minuets

Today, I’m pleased to share an excerpt from Lindsey S Fera’s latest book, Muskets and Minuets.

Excerpt

They danced the reel, and Abigail with George. For the second, Annalisa paired with Quinnapin, and for the third, Ezra Kimball. 

When the cotillion ended, Annalisa scanned the set for Jack. 

He stood across from Jane.

Forlorn, she turned away. Perhaps she would not dance with him after all. Jane, at seventeen, had been formally educated in Salem, been out for the past two years, and was now ripe for courting. It was no surprise Jack favored her. 

And thank God it isn’t Oliver. 

But Annalisa could hardly shake the bitter sting of disappointment, and an opportunity lost. 

She slipped away from the set of dancers and wandered toward the common’s edge. Near a large boulder—the Common Rock, as it was known in town—Annalisa sprawled upon the cool, damp grass and lifted her face to the sky. The heavens glittered with a million tiny stars, and the yellow glow of lightning bugs hovered over the field in a thousand flickering lights. The brisk evening air, full of dew and lilac, set her with peaceful ease. 

Annalisa reached into her pocket and removed Jack’s linen handkerchief. Holding it to her nose, she sniffed his amber perfume and closed her eyes. She imagined his hands upon her as they twirled beneath the night sky. 

“Miss Annalisa, there you are.” Jack’s voice interrupted her fantasy. 

Startled, she peered up at him. 

“They’ve done the last dance already. I apologize. I’m afraid we’ll have to dance next year.” 

Flowers of Edinburgh played one final time in the distance. Amidst the fireflies and sparkling skies, all she noticed were his eyes, glassy from too much ale. She replaced the handkerchief into her pocket. 

“Sir, that is foul news indeed.” She sat up. “I’ve never seen so many lightning bugs.” 

Jack peered about. “I’ve not seen anything like it myself. Topsfield is agreeable.” 

“’Tis home.” She sighed, ready to lift from the ground. “I suppose I should find my parents.” 

Jack assumed a recumbent position beside her on the grass. “Just a moment more—to atone for missing our dance.” He held his hat to his chest and looked into her eyes. “Nights like these are rare.” 

“You’re right, Mr. Perkins.” 

“Call me Jack.” He paused and licked his bottom lip. “Annalisa.”

The impropriety of hearing him utter only her Christian name stole her breath. Giddy, she lay back, and together they watched the stars. 

“Adams keeps me too busy. I rarely have the chance to star-gaze in Boston.”

“George and I used to lie out in the western field for hours, watching for shooting stars. Quinn tells us to beware the Puk-wudjies in the woods late at night. I hardly believe in ghost stories, but I’m curious of his tales.” 

“Good old Quinn. Wampanoag lore is fascinating, though. After he told me about Puk-wudjies I thought I saw one in Cambridge. Turns out it had been the ale I’d been drinking!” Jack laughed. “I wish I had someone like George growing up. Your brother loves you very much. He spoke of you countless times when he stayed with us.” He paused. “I felt as though I already knew you before we met.” 

“I felt the same about you. George wrote of you in nearly every one of his letters.” She ground her teeth, hating herself for having harbored ill feelings toward him. “You must be a good man if he had only good things to say.” 

From the corner of her eye, she caught him staring. She turned and smiled.

“I’ve never known a lady so willing to lie in the grass like this.”

“I’m no ordinary lady.” 

Jack’s cheeks dimpled. “I can see that.” 

This is most inconvenientEvery girl in town holds a dalliance for Jack, including Jane

She bit her lip, wishing she weren’t on that long list herself, especially when her own sister fancied him.  

“Annalisa.” Jane’s voice struck like lightning. “Papa and Mamma are waiting.” 

Jack sprung up and held out his hand to her. Annalisa grasped it and scrambled to her feet. 

“Mr. Perkins.” Jane gave a brief curtsy. 

Jack offered her his arm. “Miss Howlett, ’tis always a pleasure.” 

Annalisa trailed behind them until they met with George, his eyes glassy and frown upturned. He dashed to her side and wrapped an arm over her. 

“’Tis getting cool, Little One.” George’s breath smelled of stale cider. 

She eased against him and relaxed her shoulders. “Tomorrow, let me show you how well I’ve been shooting. You owe me a lesson with Bixby.” 

Her brother guffawed and stumbled as they walked. “I like the sound of that.” 

In front of her, Jane held Jack’s arm. They beamed at one another, impervious to Annalisa and George behind them. 

Annalisa squeezed George’s hand. “I’ve still much to learn.”

And much to forget. 

She pulled Jack’s handkerchief from her pocket, crumpled it into a ball, and dropped it onto the common.  

Here’s the blurb:

Love. Politics. War.

Amidst mounting tensions between the British crown and the American colonists of Boston, Annalisa Howlett struggles with her identity and purpose as a woman. Rather than concern herself with proper womanly duties, like learning to dance a minuet or chasing after the eligible and charming Jack Perkins, Annalisa prefers the company of her brother, George, and her beloved musket, Bixby. She intends to join the rebellion, but as complications in her personal life intensify, and the colonies inch closer to war with England, everything Annalisa thought about her world and womanhood are transformed forever.

Join Annalisa on her journey to discover what it truly means to be a woman in the 18th century, all set against the backdrop of some of the most pivotal moments in American history.

Trigger Warnings:

Violence and battle scenes, sexual assault, mild sexual content, and profanity. 

Buy Links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Meet the author 

A born and bred New Englander, Lindsey hails from the North Shore of Boston. A member of the Topsfield Historical Society and the Historical Novel Society, she forged her love for writing with her intrigue for colonial America by writing her debut novel, Muskets and Minuets. When she’s not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she’s nursing patients back to health in the ICU.

Connect with Lindsey

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

InstagramAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the Muskets and Minuets blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Featured

Today, I’m delighted to be spotlighting Lord of Worth by Philippa Jane Keyworth #blogtour #competition

Here’s the blurb:

London 1776: Lord Worth is busying himself restoring his family fortunes and burying any feelings he still harbours for the woman who rejected his proposal.

The fact that the lady in question—Lady Rebecca Fairing—happens to be his sister’s best friend, his niece’s godmother, and present at every Societal gathering of consequence is… unfortunate. 

Meanwhile Rebecca fears she made the wrong decision in rejecting James Worth, but when he assures her he won’t be renewing his proposal, she is forced to accept her choice. It doesn’t take long for the eligible Lord Worth to attract other suitors, among them Lady Sophia, daughter to Society’s most notorious gossip, Lady Goring.

Rebecca knows she must step aside and allow James to find happiness, but when she senses all is not as it seems in the Goring family, she can’t help but intervene.

As James and Rebecca work together to unearth Societal secrets, deal with scheming matriarchs, and face villainous highwaymen, they find themselves more in each other’s company than ever before. 

Will they continue to bury their feelings for one another, or will they finally realise what it means to love?

About the Ladies of Worth series

The Ladies of Worth series is a historical romance series of novels set in 18th century. From the gaming hells of London to Bath’s fashionable Pump Room, the Ladies of Worth series opens up a world of romance, wit and scandal to its readers. With formidable heroines and honourable heroes who match each other wit for wit you’ll find yourself falling in love with the Ladies of Worth.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lord-Worth-Ladies-Book-ebook/dp/B09WXNRNC4/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Lord-Worth-Ladies-Book-ebook/dp/B09WXNRNC4/

Meet the author

Philippa Jane Keyworth, also known as P. J. Keyworth, writes historical romance and fantasy novels you’ll want to escape into.

She loves strong heroines, challenging heroes and backdrops that read like you’re watching a movie. She creates complex, believable characters you want to get to know and worlds that are as dramatic as they are beautiful.

Keyworth’s historical romance novels include Regency and Georgian romances that trace the steps of indomitable heroes and heroines through historic British streets. From London’s glittering ballrooms to its dark gaming hells, characters experience the hopes and joys of love while avoiding a coil or too! Travel with them through London, Bath, Cornwall and beyond and you’ll find yourself falling in love.

Keyworth’s fantasy series The She Trilogy unveils a world of nomadic warrior tribes and peaceful forest-dwelling folk. Explore the hills, deserts and cities of Emrilion and the history that is woven through them. With so many different races in the same kingdom it’s become a melting pot of drama and intrigue where the ultimate struggle between good and evil will bring it all to the brink of destruction.

Connect with the author

https://www.instagram.com/pjkeyworth/

https://twitter.com/pjkeyworth

https://www.facebook.com/PhilippaJaneKeyworthBooks

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Lord of Worth (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494498/?

Follow the Lord of Worth by Philippa Jane Keyworth blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

Today, I’m delighted to welcome A M Linden and her new book, The Oath, to the blog with a post about what inspired her to write the book #BlogTour

Welcome to the blog. I’m hoping you’re share what inspired you to write the book with my readers.

The initial inspiration for The Oath—and the books that were to follow it—was an image that came to me when I was mulling over the idea of writing a tongue-in-cheek medieval murder mystery as a way to balance the formal writing I did for work. More accurately, I had just dismissed this as a charming but unrealistic notion since to write any sort of fiction you need to have characters and a plot, and I had neither. Then, out of the blue, I pictured a Druid priest and a Christian nun having a conversation in a dirt-walled chamber. 

Since that odd experience, I’ve had occasion to say that writing the five volumes of The Druid Chronicles was what I did to find out who those two people were, what they were talking about, and what happened to them afterwards. There was, of course, more to it than that since I’d seen images of modern Druids celebrating the summer solstice at Stone Henge, knew a little about the Roman destruction of the Druidic center on the island of Anglesey, and took it for granted that later vilification of polytheistic worshippers by the Christian church was at the basis of our current stereotypes of sorcerers and witches. In any case, I was intrigued by the thought of a Druid and a nun having a clandestine meeting, and went on to scribble the first draft of a story that took them out of that underground cell into a world that seemed to grow around them, replete with complicated characters, unexpected plot twists, and moral quandaries. 

Looking back now, I realize that I owe much of their story to other sources of inspiration as well, including the Native American creation stories my mother read to me at bedtime, the works of JRR Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin that captivated me as a teenager, and the impact that the African proverb, “Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter” had on me the first time I heard it. While I can’t say what part of this eclectic mix inspired which aspect of The Druid Chronicles, I know I could not have come up with it just out of the blue.

Thank you so much for sharing. Good luck with the books.

Here’s the blurb:

When the last of members of a secretive Druid cult are forced to abandon their hidden sanctuary, they send the youngest of their remaining priests in search of Annwr, their chief priestess’s sister, who was abducted by a Saxon war band fifteen years ago. With only a rudimentary grasp of English and the ambiguous guidance of an oracle’s prophecy, Caelym manages to find Annwr living in a hut on the grounds of a Christian convent.

Annwr has spent her years of captivity caring for the timid Aleswina, an orphaned Saxon princess who was consigned to the cloistered convent by her cousin, King Gilberth, after he assumed her father’s throne. Just as Caelym and Annwr are about leave together, Aleswina learns that Gilberth, a tyrant known for his cruelty and vicious temper, means to take her out of the convent and marry her. Terrified, she flees with the two Druids—beginning a heart-pounding adventure that unfolds in ways none of them could have anticipated.

Praise:

“Linden’s well-researched tale eloquently brings to life a lesser-known period of transition in Britain. . . . The author has created a strong foundation for her series with well-developed characters whom readers can embrace. . . . [a] layered, gripping historical fiction.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“The story rolls along at a lively pace, rich with details of the times and a wide cast of characters. [The] plotting, shifting points of view of the three engaging protagonists, and evocative writing style make The Oath a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.”

—Historical Novel Review

“Linden uses a fairy tale-like style almost as though this story has been passed down orally over the centuries.”

—Booklist Review

Trigger Warnings:

Sexual assault, child abuse

Buy Links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and NobleWaterstonesKoboApple Books

Meet the author

Ann Margaret Linden was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up on the east coast of the United States before returning to the Pacific Northwest as a young adult. She has undergraduate degrees in anthropology and in nursing and a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner. After working in a variety of acute care and community health settings, she took a position in a program for children with special health care needs where her responsibilities included writing clinical reports, parent educational materials, provider newsletters, grant submissions and other program related materials. The Druid Chronicles began as a somewhat whimsical decision to write something for fun and ended up becoming a lengthy journey that involved Linden taking adult education creative writing courses, researching early British history, and traveling to England, Scotland, and Wales. Retired from nursing, she lives with her husband and their cat and dog in the northwest corner of Washington State.

Connect with the author

Website

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Follow The Oath blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

Today, I’m excited to be taking part in the cover reveal for Mark Knowles’ Jason, book 2 in the Blades of Bronze series

Introduction to Jason by Mark Knowles

Getting Argo home in the process of writing JASON was great fun. In fact, once I’d got the route straight in my head, it gave me the most joy I’ll probably ever have in writing a story. It presented an opportunity to weave together as many strands of myth as I could without – I hope – stretching credibility. And what more could an unashamed Classics geek want? JASON features an all-star ancient Greek cast: Circe, Talos, the Sirens, King Minos, Ariadne, the Minotaur, and the Oracle, ranging over a vast landscape from as far north as the Danube to Crete in the south. 

‘Sprouting wings and flying home would have been a more useful suggestion!’ So says Idas, a thorn in Jason’s side, as options are discussed to outwit the ships blockading the Black Sea straits. His comments are apposite when looking at the wackier ancient suggestions for the return leg of Jason’s voyage. In one surviving version of the myth, we see Argo traversing the Sahara; in another, sailing to Greece via Scandinavia. Needless to say, all these routes (but one) are physically impossible. But what an opportunity for a writer to stretch the imagination!

I even discovered a lost island when researching the route. An old map of the Anatolian coastline based on a Roman geographer’s work showed an island just off the Thracian coast (modern day Bulgaria), which some natural disaster or other seems to have swallowed in the Middle Ages. As soon as I saw it, I had to have it for Circe’s mysterious island of Aea. This sums up the spirit in which JASON was written. I hope, in joining this epic voyage, you make some discoveries of your own.

Jason can be preordered using this link https://amzn.to/3PvpuTV

Mark Knowles

Check back on Friday for my review of Argo and Jason:)

Featured

Today, I’m trying something a little different. Check out my review for Fallout by Edie Baylis, a bit of Gangland Fiction #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

Secrets. Lies. Revenge.


With the odds stacked against her, Samantha Reynold is determined to prove she’s tough enough to be the boss. But when a secret from the past threatens to ruin Sam’s reputation, she suddenly feels very alone in this dark new world. There’s only one man she can turn to – rival club owner, Sebastian Stoker.

Seb knows first-hand how secrets and lies can tear a family apart. He wants to protect Sam at all costs, but siding with her could threaten his own position as head of the Stoker family and risk accusations of betrayal.

With loyalties divided and two families at war – the fallout could be deadly.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3pYMsrB

Review

Fallout is my first gangland crime novel. It’s not my usual read – or is it?

Set in Birmingham, in 1995, it’s quite strange to read about a place I once lived quite close to. Mentions of the shops made me chuckle, and I recognised many of the place names, if not all of them.

I thrust myself straight into the book, not realising that it’s the second part of a two part book set (I know, I do this all the time.) That said, I did eventually work out many of the interactions – if I missed a few things, it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story. And, I did enjoy it. It’s not my usual read – and it is really quite gritty. There is no one in this book that is particularly pleasant – there’s a lot of backstabbing and the plot winds tighter and tighter as it continues. You just know it’s all going to get very nasty in the end. And it does, but not quite as nasty as I feared:)

So, yes, not my usual read, but a story of backstabbing and double-crossing is very similar to the sort of story I like to write, and so the setting might have been different but the plot was like. Overall, I enjoyed my first foray into a touch of gangland, and I will certainly be reading the follow-up.

Meet Edie Baylis

Edie Baylis is a successful self-published author of dark gritty thrillers with violent background settings. She lives in Worcestershire, has a history of owning daft cars and several motorbikes and is licensed to run a pub. She has signed a five-book deal with Boldwood.

Connect with Edie

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/downfallseries

Twitter https://twitter.com/ediebaylis

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ediebaylis/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/EdieBaylisnewsletter

Follow the Fallout by Edie Baylis new release blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

Happy release day to Gordon Doherty and his new book, The Dark Earth in the Empires of Bronze series

Today sees the release of Gordon Doherty’s brand new book, The Dark Earth in the Empires of Bronze series. I am currently reading this and loving it.

Here’s the blurb:

The time will come, as all times must, when the world will shake, and fall to dust…

1237 BC: It is an age of panic. The great empires are in disarray – ravaged by endless drought, shaken by ferocious earthquakes and starved of precious tin. Some say the Gods have abandoned mankind.
When Tudha ascends the Hittite throne, the burden of stabilising the realm falls upon his shoulders. Despite his valiant endeavours, things continue to disintegrate; allies become foes, lethal plots arise, and enemy battle horns echo across Hittite lands.

Yet this is nothing compared to the colossal, insidious shadow emerging from the west. Crawling unseen towards Tudha’s collapsing Hittite world comes a force unlike any ever witnessed; an immeasurable swarm of outlanders, driven by the cruel whip of nature, spreading fire and destruction: the Sea Peoples.

Every age must end. The measure of a man is how he chooses to face it.

The Dark Earth is released today, 26th May 2022, and is available from here.

Meet the author

Gordon Doherty is the author of the Legionary and Strategos series, and wrote the Assassin’s Creed tie-in novel Odyssey. He is based in Scotland.

Follow Gordon

Twitter: @GordonDoherty

Instagram: @gordon.doherty

Website: https://www.gordondoherty.co.uk/

Featured

Today, I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Nancy Jardine’s new book, Before Beltane #BlogTour

Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from Nancy Jardine’s fabulous new book, Before Beltane. Enjoy.

Before Beltane

Nara-Summoned to Swatrega

Nara pulled back the heavy leather cover that kept draughts from entering the roundhouse and ducked under it.

The first thing she noticed was the pall of aromatic smoke that lingered and danced high up in the roofbeams, and the heavy burning smell that permeated the dwelling. Swatrega and the priestess diviner had been casting prophecies.

At the far end of the large room, Swatrega sat alone in silence. The eyes of the High Priestess were closed, though Nara guessed the woman was not asleep. She stood awaiting the invitation to go further into the room. It came eventually, by which time Nara was feeling extremely unsettled, wondering what she could have done to merit the censure she now feared was coming to her.

“Come and sit by me, Princess Nara of Tarras.”

Swatrega’s tone was not angry. This disturbed Nara even more. The use of the term ‘princess’ was yet another reminder of her tribal status, and not a good sign at all.

Nara made her way to the end of the fireside, to a low-burning fire that gave out just enough heat to warm the priestess, who sat on the stool that had specially carved sides and was created for the one who led the order. Swatrega was enwrapped in a thick blanket of close-woven wool of a mud-brown colour, the material similar to the acolyte cloaks.

Only after Nara was settled on the short wooden bench beside her did Swatrega begin to speak again.

“You have been here for many seasons and, for my part, you have always given the impression that you would eventually rise to become one of our best priestesses.” Swatrega broke off, a gruff laugh coming unexpectedly.

Nara was dazed by the words, a sudden thrill overtaking her natural caution. Was she now to be given her final priestess rites? The elation she was feeling she quickly suppressed from sight – it was not a worthy trait under the eyes of the goddess.

She also knew it was not her place to answer…though it was her place to listen,

Swatrega broke eye contact, her focus on the doorway at the far end of the room. “In time, I had even envisaged that you might take my place, here at this priestess home.”

Once more Nara had to wait, confusion now reigning. The word ‘had’ that Swatrega used did not seem to indicate that she would remain at the nemeton. Did that mean she would leave and go to another priestess settlement? Nara’s head whirled. For some reason, conversations about other priestess villages had been rare, although a visiting priestess was not a completely unheard-of occurrence.

Talk with the High Priestess about her future had never transpired before. Many times Nara had wanted to ask why her final vows of the priestesshood had been delayed, and further delayed, yet it was never a conversation that she could start. When the goddess willed it, it would happen. She felt her eyes glisten as she focused on the hearth stones.

Was it about to happen now?

Nara listened to the huge sigh that came before Swatrega’s attention returned to her.

“Know now, Princess Nara of Tarras, that time will never ever come. You will never be a High Priestess at any sacred place. The goddess has spoken. She has prophesied a new pathway for you.”

“A new pathway?” Nara could not control the wobble in her voice that bordered on a squeal, and could only repeat Swatrega’s words. “What does that mean? I do not understand.”

“The goddess has newly spoken today. You must leave the Islet of the Priestesses. You have only a few things to claim as your own. You will collect them and leave now.”

“Leave? What have I done?” Nara was horrified. Dread cold replaced the heated excitement that she had been trying to suppress. “Why does the goddess not favour me? Why does she send me away?”

“Your future is freshly foretold, Nara of Tarras. You are no longer an acolyte of the priestesshood. You must take your place once again at your father’s side in his stronghold…as a woman of the people.”

Nara fell to her knees beside the High Priestess and grasped Swatrega’s thin and bony fingers, tears stinging and dripping from her chin. “I still do not understand your words. My father has never had any need of me at Tarras. He hates the very sight of me. Why must I return there?” Relentless tears continued to stream down Nara’s cheeks. “I have been a priestess in all except name for many seasons now, bar the final rites. Why cannot I continue? Even as I am now, still uninitiated?”

Soft pats at her cheeks only barely registered.

Swatrega’s tones softened, though the High Priestess did not properly claim her gaze. “The goddess Dôn has spoken – and as her servants – we must obey, Princess Nara. Your path is no longer as a priestess.”

Nara was distraught.

“But how can I now be a princess of the tribe at my father’s side? What shall I do?”

“The goddess Dôn has foretold that you will be the mother of a son who will become one of the greatest leaders the northern territories has ever known. In this time of great threat from the legions of the Roman Empire, the tribes of the north will desperately need strong men and women to defend our way of life.”

Nara could only gape, open mouthed. What Swatrega was saying was incomprehensible.

“Our forthcoming Beltane Festival will be a crucial time for you along your prophesied journey. Before then you must find a worthy warrior to sire your son. It cannot be just any man, but will be the one whose destiny is linked to yours. Pray to the goddess Dôn because she will always guide you.”

“A mother?” Nara was dumbfounded.

Swatrega’s expression lost its momentary softness. “You must leave immediately and prepare for your new future.”

Here’s the blurb:

Two lives. Two stories. One future.

AD 71 Northern Britannia

At the Islet of the Priestesses, acolyte Nara greets each new day eager to heal the people at Tarras Hillfort. Weapon training is a guilty pleasure, but she is devastated when she is unexpectedly denied the final rites of an initiated priestess. A shocking new future beckons for Princess Nara of the Selgovae…

In the aftermath of civil war across Brigantia, Lorcan of Garrigill’s promotion of King Venutius is fraught with danger. Potential invasion by Roman legions from the south makes an unstable situation even worse. When Lorcan meets the Druid Maran, the future foretold for him is as enthralling as it is horrifying…

Meet Nara and Lorcan before their tumultuous meeting of each other in The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of the acclaimed Celtic Fervour Series.

Buy Links:

Available on #KindleUnlimited

Universal link: getbook.at/BBherenow

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Meet the Author

Nancy Jardine lives in the spectacular ‘Castle Country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her main writing focus has, to date, been historical and time travel fiction set in Roman Britain, though she’s also published contemporary mystery novels with genealogy plots. If not writing, researching (an unending obsession), reading or gardening, her young grandchildren will probably be entertaining her, or she’ll be binge-watching historical films and series made for TV. 

She loves signing/ selling her novels at local events and gives author presentations locally across Aberdeenshire. These are generally about her novels or with a focus on Ancient Roman Scotland, presented to groups large and small. Zoom sessions have been an entertaining alternative to presenting face-to-face events during, and since, the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions.

Current memberships are with the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland, Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with the author co-operative Ocelot Press.

Connect with Nancy

WebsiteBlogTwitter

FacebookLinkedInPinterest

BookBubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow the Before Beltane blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

Today, I’m delighted to host a fascinating guest post from Brodie Curtis about his new book, Angels and Bandits #BlogTour

Today, I’m delighted to share a fab post from Brodie Curtis about the inspiration behind his new book, Angels and Bandits.

ANGELS and BANDITS is my second historical novel, set around The Battle of Britain. What inspired ANGELS and BANDITS? Well, I can say the book is a follow-on to THE FOUR BELLS, my debut novel which portrays events during the Great War. Protagonist Eddy Beane is the answer to a loose thread from my first book, and we follow Eddy’s story all the way to those heady days when Britain stood alone in 1940.

But my inspiration for ANGELS and BANDITS goes beyond a sequel and is rooted in deep respect and admiration for the Royal Air Force’s defence of unrelenting German Luftwaffe bombing attacks in August and September of 1940. For those of us who have never experienced war in our day to day lives, and hopefully never will, just imagine London in late summer 1940. Sirens wailed, ack-ack guns boomed and in between Londoners heard the droning engines of bombers somewhere high overhead. Explosions, death and destruction became part of daily life. 

Contemporary images of mostly boyish countenances of RAF fighter pilots present the young men, who were inexperienced in life but tasked with the weighty life-saving responsibility of protecting civilians. It was up to them to confront and repel the German Luftwaffe and all of its daunting scale, efficiency and weaponry. It is the story of those young men and how they dug deep within themselves to accomplish the task that inspired me. 

For me, I was stirred beyond words reading Churchill’s war-time speeches and famous line: “Never, in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few.” Walking by The Battle of Britain sculpture on Victoria Embankment in London, opposite the London Eye, was terrifically inspiring. 

Battle of Britain Monument

Watching YouTube clips of the Spitfire in action took my breath away. And I must admit that watching scenes from Michael Caine’s movie  The Battle of Britain, for the umpteenth time, still gives me chills. 

So who were “The Few”? That question, I suppose, is at the heart of ANGELS and BANDITS. My impression from a deep research dive is that “The Few” were men of many backgrounds. Some educated, some not; some wealthy, some far from it; Englishmen and Canadians and Aussies, Poles and Czechs, and many more. All united by the masterful leadership of Air Marshals Hugh Dowding and Keith Park, and others. 

How did “The Few” do it? The answer, in part, is that many of them flew the magnificent Spitfire, Britain’s elegant yet powerful fighter plane. 

Sptifire

The more I learn about Spits, the more I love them, and can’t wait for the day I look into the cockpit of one. My admiration for Spitfires surely comes through in many scenes in ANGELS and BANDITS.

I would draw a contrast with the inspiration for my debut novel, THE FOUR BELLS. That book was set in motion years ago, in a homey lounge, when I heard a gorgeously mournful acoustic version of John McCutcheon’s song about the transcendent Christmas Truce of 1914. It inspired me to research reports on the truce in contemporaneous writings and non-fiction, and to walk the fields of Flanders. Its funny how your characters take you along on their own journey. In the end, The Christmas Truce became just one important scene in THE FOUR BELLS.

Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration and good luck with the new book.

Here’s the blurb:

The Battle of Britain rages and two young RAF pilots from very different stations in life must somehow find common ground—and stay alive. 

On the eve of World War II, working-class Eddy Beane is a flight instructor in London. He successfully completes dangerous espionage missions for Air Commodore Keith Park and takes on society-girl June Stephenson as a student. Her ex-fiancé, Dudley Thane, is also a flyer, but upper-class and Cambridge-educated. When the German Luftwaffe attacks England in 1940, Eddy and Dudley end up serving in the same Spitfire squadron. Aerial combat is intense, and both men show their skills and courage, but can they set aside jealousy and class differences to become fighting brothers for the defence of Britain? 

Buy Links: 

Universal Link

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and NobleKoboApple Books

Meet the author

Raised in the Midwest, Brodie Curtis was educated as a lawyer and left the corporate world to embrace life in Colorado with his wife and two sons. 

Curtis is the author of THE FOUR BELLS, a novel of The Great War, which is the product of extensive historical research, including long walks through the fields of Flanders, where much of the book’s action is set. His second novel, ANGELS AND BANDITS, takes his protagonists into The Battle of Britain. Curtis is currently working on a novel set on a Mississippi Riverboat prior to the Civil War.

A lover of history, particularly American history and the World Wars, Curtis reviews historical fiction for the Historical Novels Review and more than 100 of his published reviews and short takes on historical novels can be found on his website

Social Media Links:

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

InstagramBookBubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow the Angels and Bandits blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

Today I’m really delighted to feature a guest post from Alistair Tosh about his new Roman era novel, Siege.

Maintaining order in Roman Britannia’s vast militarised zone

The original vision for my ‘Edge of Empire’ series of novels was to write stories that focussed on the lives and adventures of two protagonists from a single Roman auxiliary infantry unit. It was to be set in the north of the province of Britannia and in the wilder, unconquered lands beyond its boundaries. But as I buried myself in the research phase I was continually surprised by what I discovered. Ultimately I gained a greater understanding of the Roman way of doing things and quite fundamentally changed the approach to my stories.

For much of its first 300 years of use Hadrian’s Wall marked the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. In movies such as The Eagle or Centurion we see Roman foot soldiers astride its battlements looking north, spear and shield in hand. But the Wall was not the-be-all-and-end-all of the north’s defence. What is less understood, at least to me, is that the Wall was really a focal point for a much larger militarised zone that stretched from Lancaster in the south to forts like Blatobulgium and Trimontium well into what is now modern day southern Scotland (I’m ignoring the period of the Antonine wall for simplicity).

It seems evident that the lands both north and south of Hadrian’s Wall were at times restive, if not in down right conflict, with the Roman administration. Whilst auxiliary infantry troops had an important role in keeping the peace, their deployment became increasingly localised in nature, especially in the later centuries of the empire. It was the mounted troops that had the pivotal role in commanding the north.

When researching for my historical adventure novel ‘Siege’, that focuses on the lives of the men of a Germanic cohort, a real life regiment with a mixture of infantry and cavalry. I was surprised by the amount of detail we now have on the everyday life of a Roman cavalryman. In the story I have worked hard to be faithful to that knowledge and attempted to bring it to life for the present day reader.

Most forts in the militarised zone included a cavalry force within their garrisons.

It has been calculated that sustaining a cavalryman with his kit and horse cost 5 times that of an infantryman. Why would the Romans invest so much if they were not an important and  valuable asset? The answer surely must, at least in part, lie in both its symbolic and strategic roles.

Cavalry could move at a rapid pace and cover great distances quickly. They were highly mobile, making them effective on patrols and as scouts both north and south of the Wall. They made speedy messengers, giving warning of sudden threats and incursions. They also ensured food security, protecting local farmland and guarding supply trains to the Wall’s outlying forts. But, probably as importantly, they projected the image of power and renown of Rome and its imperial might. If you have ever seen the Household Cavalry in London or mounted police outside of a football (soccer) stadium you will get an idea of what a Roman turma must have looked like to an Iron Age population.

Outlying forts, north of the Wall, such as at Birrens and Netherby housed specialist, double strength, mixed infantry and cavalry cohorts (milliaria equitata) as well as specialist scouts (exploratores) enabling them to command a significant geographic area and suppress any uprising of local tribes. The effect on the populace must have been as much psychological as physical.

But who were these cavalrymen? Well they certainly weren’t drawn from the Roman aristocracy as they often were in the time of the Republic. No, the names of their units give a clear indication that the Romans recruited from all over the empire from the homelands of its conquered peoples. Germanic and celtic Gaulish units were prevalent, such as the I Nervana Germanorum and the cohors II Tungrorum that garrisoned the fort of Birrens at different times. But regiments from as far away as Spain and modern day Bulgaria and Croatia have also been identified. But as the needs of the empire changed over time individual units would mainly have recruited from the local populations. With sons moving into the family business by joining the cohorts of their fathers and grandfathers.

So what was life like for the cavalryman? Well each troop, known as a turma (typically 30 men), were housed in a single barrack block. Trios of men lived at the back of the building with their horses stabled at the front. There were surely few nights that troopers fell asleep without the sound of the snorts of their mounts accompanied by the smell of hay and dung. Each room had a hearth set against the stable-side wall for warmth and cooking. The decurion, who commanded the turma, lived in rooms at the end of the block along with his family.Troopers ate, slept and kept their weapons and tack in these small rooms. It is also thought that grooms and slaves may have slept in the roof space above.

Training for cavalrymen and their mounts was extensive and intense. If you have seen horses being drilled for modern day dressage you will get the idea, with each trained initially on a long rein to teach the horse basic skills as well as special steps. It is likely that horses were broken and prepared by specialists before being assigned to its rider. They learned to overcome their instinct to flee when startled and to cope in the noise and fervour of combat. The early instruction of the cavalryman would have focussed on the basic skills of controlling and riding the horse whilst holding a sword or spear in the right hand and the shield and rein in the left. From there they would have progressed to training to fight as a turma, with unit drills enabling large numbers of men to manoeuvre in battle. 

The average cavalryman was well armed and armoured. He typically wore chainmail armour that allows greater movement whilst on horseback. Their weapons consisted of the long cavalry sword often referred to as the spatha. They also had a fighting lance and two shorter throwing javelins. Their shields were a variety of shapes including square and oval, but were usually flat with a steel rim and a rounded metal boss to enable it to be used as a weapon.

It is not hard to imagine the damage the charge of even a small unit of auxiliary cavalry could inflict on the largely unprotected bodies of the tribal warriors of the north of Britain. 

Buy Links:

 www.amazon.com/dp/B09SLWHP8T

 www.amazon.co.UK/dp/B09SLWHP8T

Meet Alistair

Alistair lived in the Dumfriesshire countryside for most of his childhood. A region of Scotland filled with ancient place names such as Torthorwald and Caerlaverock. But it was his history teacher’s telling of the tale of Burnswark and the Roman siege of the Iron Age hillfort that fired his love of Roman and Dark Ages history. From there the kernel of the stories for the Edge of Empire series took root.

On leaving school he began a 35-year communications career, firstly with the Royal Navy, that included covert riverine and seaborne operations during the height of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, before moving into the corporate world. Military life is unique, and Alistair aims to reflect an authentic view of that experience and its language in his stories.  When not writing or spending time with family, Alistair, his wife Jenny and Hurley the cockerpoo love to walk in the hills of both the UK and Andalucia.

  

Thank you for such a fabulous guest post. Good luck with the new book.

Featured

Today, I’m delighted to share a guest post from Edward Londergan about his new book, Unlike Any Other #blogtour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Today, I’m welcoming Edward Londergan and his new novel, Unlike Any Other to the blog. Edward has written a fascinating post about the locations used in his novel, and how he researched them.

One of the most important aspects of research I undertook to write the book is identifying and understanding the physical locations where the story took place. One of the most important aspects of any historical fiction story is the location. Luckily for me, the three places where most of the story takes place are relatively close to my home. Knowing each of the locations well helps me make the reader be there and see it in their mind’s eye. It helps me craft the story better to make it more lifelike. I want the reader to be there. I firmly believe that if the writer can’t see it neither can the reader. 

The three main locations are all in Central Massachusetts—the small town of Hardwick, the City of Worcester, and the town of Brookfield. One of the great helps to me was the maps of Revolutionary War era Brookfield drawn by a local historian and cartographer. He put together a series of maps of Brookfield during Bathsheba’s time living there. He did quite a bit of research for the maps and I was lucky enough to learn of them from a mutual acquaintance. Unfortunately, he passed away before I began writing the book, so I could not ask the dozen questions I had for him. 

He took great care to get the location of each building of each farm, of the taverns and cemetery. Using his maps and my wonderful and sometimes intimidating imagination, I visualized the village and could walk through it from end to end as if I lived in that moment. 

Bathsheba grew up on her father’s estate in Hardwick. He was a wealthy man and owned large tracts of land. A large house sat on the top of a hill that could be seen for miles in every direction. To proclaim his undying allegiance to the British crown, he had a large boulder dragged to the middle of this field. A large hole two feet deep was drilled in it. A tall tree trunk was used as a flagpole from which flew a large Union Jack. Having such a flag on such a tall pole on top of a high hill rubbed many people in pre-Revolutionary War Massachusetts the wrong way. To be able to go to the estate site and gaze across the open fields, see the long stone walls he had built, stand on that boulder and look in the hole, and visualize the flag curling in the breeze made it all come alive for me. 

In Brookfield, I could drive and walk the roads where all the buildings once stood that Bathsheba would have known and perhaps visited. The roads of today follow, for the most part, the roads of that time. To go to the location of Bathsheba’s house, which is long since gone having been abandoned and falling down many years ago, and stand where the front steps remain, blocks of granite, a short distance from the well where her husband’s body was put after he was murdered. To walk up the dirt road and know that she once rode her horse on it, walked it as I did, or drove in their carriage along it makes it all real. The church they attended still stands. The town common is the same shape as it was then. Some of the houses surrounding it existed when Bathsheba lived there. She would have walked by these same places. 

In my stories, I want to put the reader there. If they realize they’re reading, I’ve failed as a writer. I want my readers to get lost in the story so that the pages seemingly turn themselves. I want the reader to be at the tavern, sit before at a table near the fire on a cold winter day, and see the mug of rum before them. 

Having grown up in Worcester, I’m familiar with the city. Knowing the locations of the jail, courthouse, meeting house, Bathsheba’s sister’s estate, and the burying ground all helped me imagine what it was like during those events. Interestingly, Bathsheba and her unborn child, killed when she was executed, were buried on her sister’s estate, which in 1905 was gifted to the City of Worcester and is now Green Hill Park. She and her baby lie somewhere within the park in an unmarked grave. 

Thank you so much for sharing your research with me. It sounds amazing. I do love a good map. Good luck with your new book.

Here’s the blurb:

The Story of An 18th Century Woman from A Prominent New England Family Who Went from A Life of Privilege to The Gallows

Bathsheba Spooner was the daughter of Timothy Ruggles, a general in the French and Indian War, president of the Stamp Act Congress, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and a leading loyalist in Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War; the epitome of upper class.

Like her father, Bathsheba was smart, strong-willed, and a staunch British loyalist. Forced to marry a man she did not love, Bathsheba withstood her husband’s abuse for years until a young Continental soldier entered her life. But when this well-heeled mother of three small children discovered she was pregnant with the soldier’s child, her thoughts quickly turned to murder.

Based on a true story, the events that follow Bathsheba’s life, her decisions, and her ultimate demise will show readers that Bathsheba Spooner was, in fact, Unlike Any Other . . .

Buy Links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and NobleWaterstonesKobo

Hudson BooksellersIndieboundBooks-A-Million

Meet the Author

Ed Londergan is the author of the award-winning books The Devils’ Elbow and The Long Journey Home. Having researched American history for many years, he is a frequent speaker with a focus on colonial Massachusetts. A graduate of Holy Cross, he lives in Warren, Massachusetts. 

Connect with the author

WebsiteTwitterFacebookLinkedIn

InstagramAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow the Unlike Any Other blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

Today, I’m delighted to host The Colour of Rubies by Toni Mount and share an extract from the new historical mystery

Extract

The Palace of Westminster


The Great Gate was impressive, its ancient stone ivy-clad, its turrets snow-capped and the Royal Standard flapping above in the fitful flurries of icy flakes. The guards in their bright liveries stamped their boots and blew on their hands, puffing out white clouds with every breath. Keeping watch in January was a duty none enjoyed. They recognised Jude and waved him through, ignoring Seb as a person of little consequence, unlikely to endanger King Edward in any way.

The Inner Gate into Green Yard was far less imposing but the solitary guard there demanded to know their business. Mayhap, he was in need of some activity or company to pass the time.

‘Who goes there?’ he demanded, barring the way with his halberd.

‘Walter, you bloody nincompoop, it’s me,’ Jude said. ‘You know me better than your own father – if you ever knew him at all.’

‘Bloody Foxley,’ the guard growled. ‘What brings you back on a Saturday afternoon? And who’s this?’ He nodded at Seb.

‘My brother. He’s a scribe like me and we’ve got work to do for Secretary Oliver – not that it’s any business of yours.’

‘Mind your mouth, Foxley. I can throw you in the lock-up anytime I like and you’ll freeze to death in there afore you can say your Paternoster. And why’s your brother here? He ain’t a King’s Clerk and if he’s half the bloody trouble you are, he’s not welcome.’

‘He has permission; a written warrant.’ Jude took a paper from his purse and offered it to the guard, fully aware that Walter was illiterate as a blind sheep. ‘You want to read it?’

The guard shook his head.

‘Just keep out of my sight, the pair of you. Any trouble and you’ll have my halberd shoved up your arse with a ribbon on it.’

Jude was sniggering as he led Seb to side door.

‘You upset him. Why did you taunt him so, not to mention the lies you told?’ Seb
asked, knocking a dark mess of slush and ashes off his boots against the stone step.

Jude didn’t bother, treading mucky footsteps along the passage within.

‘Forwhy Walter’s an ignorant pig. He knows I have the measure of him, the damned jackanapes, and lying is just the Westminster way – nobody tells the truth here. Besides, this clerkship job would be unutterably tedious if I didn’t have folk like him and Piers Creed to make mock of. Did I tell you about Creed the Farter?’

‘Aye, you did, more than once.’

‘This here is Secretary Oliver’s joyous house of entertainment,’ Jude announced, stopping at a closed door. ‘Scene of my life-wasting scribbling and associated tortures. Coldest place on earth, if I know anything, where we sit and feel our bollocks shrivel and fall off, if we’re not careful. You want to see inside, if it’s not locked? Creed is probably still working like an idiot.’

Jude tried the door, lifted the latch. It squealed open and, sure enough, there was Piers Creed, as Jude had half expected, bent over his desk, pen in hand. Despite the noise, the clerk didn’t look up.

‘Jesu’s sake, Piers, you farting, foolish fucker, can’t you think of anything better to do on our free afternoon? Go play bloody snowballs or something. Hey! Don’t ignore me. How can you sleep in here? It’s too damned cold.’

Jude kicked the clerk’s stool to rouse him from his nap. But Piers did not waken. He slid across his desk and toppled off the stool, the pen yet held fast in his fingers.

‘Wake up, you idiot.’

Jude grabbed his fellow before he should fall to the floor and hurt himself. He shook him but it did no good.

Seb lowered himself to the flagstones with care. He removed his gloves and touched the clerk’s cheek.

‘His skin be icy.’

‘So would any man’s be in this place. See? The brazier isn’t alight. Come on, Piers, rouse yourself, you idle…’

‘Shouting at him will have no effect, I fear.’ Seb put his fingers to the pulse pointunder the angle of the jaw. ”Tis a sorrowful thing, Jude, but your friend be dead. We must fetch a priest to him, straightway.’

Here’s the blurb:

Murder lurks at the heart of the royal court in the rabbit warren of the Palace of Westminster. The year is 1480. Treason is afoot amongst the squalid grandeur and opulent filth of this medieval world of contrasts. Even the Office of the King’s Secretary hides a dangerous secret.

Meeting with lords and lackeys, clerks, courtiers and the mighty King Edward himself, can Seb Foxley decipher the encoded messages and name the spy?

Will Seb be able to prevent the murder of the most important heir in England?

All will be revealed as we join Seb Foxley and his abrasive brother Jude in the latest intriguing adventure amid the sordid shadows of fifteenth-century London.

Praise for Toni Mount’s The Colour of Rubies

Tony Riches, author of The Tudor Trilogy “An evocative masterclass in storytelling.”  
Carol McGrath, author of the She-wolves trilogy “I was utterly transported – It’s superb”. “What a plot. What characters. Perfect pitch”.

“I loved the relationship between Seb and Jude”.

“The Colour of Rubies is a totally immersive experience as richly stitched as one of King Edward IV’s gorgeous tapestries. This cleverly plotted novel with its twists and turns will keep a reader page turning late into the night until the book’s final scenes. Sebastian and Jude are wonderfully realised personalities with similar emotions, concerns, fears and hopes we have have today. Their medieval London felt real and intriguing to me with unexpected dangers lurking in alleyways. I felt as if I was walking in Sebastian’s footsteps. With this thrilling novel Toni Mount has shown herself a master of medieval suspense. More please”.

Praise for Toni Mount’s Sebastian Foxley Medieval Murder Series

Tracy Borman, historian and broadcaster “An atmospheric and compelling thriller that takes the reader to the dark heart of medieval London.”

Matthew Lewis author of Richard III Loyalty Binds Me “Toni Mount continues to delight with the superbly crafted Seb Foxley mysteries. Impeccable research and sculpted characters combine with an engaging narrative to create another irresistible story. This series goes from strength to strength, and I’m already looking forward to the next instalment”

J.P. Reedman, author of the I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET series: “Sebastian Foxley is the Cadfael of the 15th century”.

“The Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery Series by Toni Mount is not only filled by dastardly murders and gripping intrigue but contains many well-researched historical facts from the Wars of the Roses era” 

Samantha Willcoxson, author & historian “Toni Mount is simply brilliant”.

“If you love CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake (and I do) you will love Toni’s Sebastian Foxley”.

“From learning how a 15th century scrivener created illuminated manuscripts to venturing within the dank tunnels beneath the Tower of London, Toni is an artist who completely immerses the reader in another time and place and always leaves one eager for the next book.”

Stephanie Churchill, author of historical fiction and epic fantasy “Leave it to Seb to unravel another international spiderweb of intrigue, betrayal, murder, and deceit. Our flawed, loveable hero has done it again. And at the end of it all, his future is looking brighter than ever. I cannot wait to find out what happens to him next!”

Sharon Bennet Connoly, author and medieval historian “A beautifully crafted mystery that brings the dark, dangerous streets of medieval London to life. Toni Mount is a magician with words, weaving a captivating story in wonderful prose. The Colour of Evil is, to put it simply, a pleasure to read.” 

Rosalie Gilbert, medieval historian and author “The author’s knowledge of medieval history shines through the narrative in the small details which enhance the story woven into it. The details about the inside workings of medieval trade practices lent themselves perfectly for a background to murder and deceit”.

“Recommended for lovers of historic fiction.”

Joanne R Larner author of Richard Liveth Yet trilogy: “I always look forward to a new ‘Colour of…’ book. I can’t wait to see what escapades Seb Foxley and his brother, Jude, get up to next. They, and all the characters, are endearing and colourful. The books are always well written, conjuring 15th century London into the reader’s mind and the plots are excellent!’

Mel Starr bestselling author of the Hugh de Singleton chronicles: “If I believed in reincarnation I would be willing to think that Toni Mount lived a previous life in 15th century London.  The scents, the sights, the tastes of the late Middle Ages are superbly rendered.”

Connect with the author, http://www.twitter.com/tonihistorian

The Colour of Rubies is available now.

Featured

Happy release day to Elena Collins whose The Witches Tree is released today. Here’s my review.

Here’s the blurb:

A tale as old as time. A spirit that has never rested.

Present day

As a love affair comes to an end, and with it her dreams for her future, artist Selena needs a retreat. The picture-postcard Sloe Cottage in the Somerset village of Ashcombe promises to be the perfect place to forget her problems, and Selena settles into her new home as spring arrives. But it isn’t long before Selena hears the past whispering to her. Sloe Cottage is keeping secrets which refuse to stay hidden.

1682

Grace Cotter longs for nothing more than a husband and family of her own. Content enough with her work on the farm, looking after her father, and learning the secrets of her grandmother Bett’s healing hands, nevertheless Grace still hopes for love. But these are dangerous times for dreamers, and rumours and gossip can be deadly. One mis-move and Grace’s fate looks set…

Separated by three hundred years, two women are drawn together by a home bathed in blood and magic. Grace Cotter’s spirit needs to rest, and only Selena can help her now. 

Review:

The Witch’s Tree is my second dual timeline novel in a week. It’s not my preferred take on historical fiction, but hey, I’m on holiday, so why not.

The Witch’s Tree is a story linked by a single space – a house – and the author offers two timelines, one modern-day and one set in the late seventeenth century. It was the late seventeenth-century story that fascinated me the most, and the feeling of impending doom made the story a little difficult to read in places. The contrasting stories of the two women further enforced the sense that problems were brewing for Grace in the seventeenth century,. As you might expect, I wanted more of the seventeenth-century story, and less of the modern-day one. I did appreciate that the modern-day story didn’t give away any of the details of the seventeenth-century story and that some of the aspects were misunderstood by the modern cast. I think that little bit of realism really helped with the contemporary storyline.

A captivating read, I think readers will enjoy meeting Grace and Selena.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy.

(Not one to ever think that books should come with trigger warnings, I confess, there was one aspect of the book that I found a little upsetting, so I’ll say here that readers should be aware of the appearance in the narrative of a cleft lip. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but just to let readers know it is there.)

The Witches Tree is released today, 17th May 2022, and is available in ebook, paperback, hardback, large print and audio.

Connect with the author on twitter.

Featured

I’m delighted to spotlight The Mesilla by Mary Armstrong on the blog today #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

At 14 years old, Jesus ‘Chuy’ Perez Contreras Verazzi Messi is too small and frail to work the land on the family farm near the Rio Bravo in Mexico. The local padre’s tutoring reveals Jesus’s unending curiosity and fertile mind. Noted Las Cruces, New Mexico attorney, and politician Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain, agrees to take his nephew under his wing. Jesus ‘reads law’ with his uncle and shares adventures and adversity with the Fountain family and other historic Mesilla and Tularosa Valley citizens. His coming-of-age story will take you into the wild southwest, a brewing range war, a territory struggling toward statehood, courtroom dramas, and the adventures and adversities of a boy’s quest for manhood. 

*A fictional memoir by Jesus about the ten years leading to the notorious and unsolved Fountain murders.

Buy Links:

Universal Links for the series:

When the Doves Coo (A Prequel to The Two Valleys Saga): 

The Mesilla (The Two Valleys Saga, Book 1)

The San Augustin (The Two Valleys Saga, Book 2)

The Mesilla Buy Links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and NobleCOAS Books

Meet the Author

Mary lives in the heart of one of the ‘Two Valleys’ in Las Cruces New Mexico, with her husband Norman ‘Skip’ Bailey, Jr. and their Cavachon child-dog, Java. In 2017 she wrote the one-act play, “It is Blood,” which was selected for a performance by the Las Cruces Community Theatre. Whereas the Two Valleys series is a prequel to the notorious and unsolved murders of Albert J. Fountain and his eight-year-old son, “It is Blood,” is a sequel to those events. 

After winning an award for her debut historic fiction novel “The Mesilla,” Mary has decided to focus on that genre — at least for the foreseeable future. Her writing is fast-moving, thought-provoking and with just enough wordsmithing to satisfy your artistic hankerings. While her writing has literary merit, she strives to capture the moment — the time and the place — and help you live in that moment.

Before releasing her debut novel, Mary dabbled in creative writing, including a weekly column in the Las Cruces Sun News. Since retiring from a diverse career in various planning and design fields, she has devoted herself more fully to her writing, being a good spouse, serving her dog Java, and slipping away to the golf course when left unchained to the desk. 

Connect with Mary

WebsiteTwitter

FacebookLinkedInInstagram

BookBubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow The Mesilla tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

Cragside – A 1930s murder mystery is on audiobook tour with Lovebookstours from 16th-24th May 2022

I’ll be uploading links on the days of the tour, and would like to thank all the hosts and Kelly Lacey for organising the tour.

Here’s the blurb:

From the author of The Erdington Mysteries, a classic 1930s murder mystery house party.

Lady Merryweather has had a shocking year. Apprehended for the murder of her husband the year before, and only recently released, she hopes a trip away from London will allow her to grieve. The isolated, but much loved, Cragside Estate in North Northumberland, home of her friends, Lord and Lady Bradbury, holds special memories for her.

But, no sooner has she arrived than the body of one of the guests is found on the estate, and suspicion immediately turns on her. Perhaps, there are no friendships to be found here, after all.

Released, due to a lack of evidence, Lady Ella returns to Cragside only to discover a second murder has taken place in her absence, and one she can’t possibly have committed.

Quickly realising that these new murders must be related to that of her beloved husband, Lady Merryweather sets out to solve the crime, once and for all. But there are many who don’t want her to succeed, and as the number of murder victims increases, the possibility that she might well be the next victim, can’t be ignored.

Journey to the 1930s Cragside Estate, to a period house-party where no one is truly safe, and the estate is just as deadly as the people.

You can purchase the audiobook via the following link.

And I’m adding the links for all the fab hosts below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Cdq9j3EI3wd/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdoEkntj2EX/


https://vicarioushome.com/cragside-m-j-porter-coloursofunison-lovebookstours-igbooktours/


https://www.instagram.com/p/CdjEbPQLZ5O/


https://www.booksbybindu.com/home/Cragside


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cdq9j3EI3wd/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cdpdef3oHQJ/


https://www.instagram.com/p/CdrAqmtv1o4/


https://www.instagram.com/p/CcbABRSLuPI/


https://www.instagram.com/p/CdtuzQeK4Rq/


https://www.instagram.com/p/CdwKHCipelm/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cdu7fFlte3n/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd5FhJNAiKO/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cdxqew6r9pS/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd6LgVosmaY/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd5vRIkgQHo/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd6VY8-r1uw/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd8MGnns587/


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd7z9YWgxFJ/


https://mirandasbookscape.wordpress.com/2022/05/24/cragside-a-1930s-murder-mystery-by-mj-porter-blog-tour-book-review/

Phew. I think I’ve caught everyone. Once more, thank you to all the reviewers to Love Books Tours, and of course, to my wonderful narrator Gill Mills, who completely smashed the narration for Cragside. Thank you.

Featured

Today, I’m taking part in The Storm Girl by Kathleen McGurl blog tour

Today, I’m taking part in The Storm Girl by Kathleen McGurl blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources.

Here’s the blurb:

The gripping new historical novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Girl from Bletchley Park and The Forgotten Secret.

A heartbreaking choice. A secret kept for centuries.

1784. When Esther Harris’s father hurts his back, she takes over his role helping smugglers hide contraband in the secret cellar in their pub. But when the free traders’ ships are trapped in the harbour, a battle between the smugglers and the revenue officers leads to murder and betrayal – and Esther is forced to choose between the love of her life and protecting her family…

Present day. Fresh from her divorce, Millie Galton moves into a former inn overlooking the harbour in Mudeford and plans to create her dream home. When a chance discovery behind an old fireplace reveals the house’s secret history as a haven for smugglers and the devastating story of its former residents, could the mystery of a disappearance from centuries ago finally be solved?

Sweeping historical fiction perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Kathryn Hughes and Tracy Rees.

My review

The Storm Girl is a dual timeline novel, and as a reader and writer of historical fiction, it was the historical storyline that captivated me far more than the modern-day tale of divorce and starting afresh.

Coming at this from a ‘newb’ point of view, I expected both storylines to have some connection, other than the most tenuous one, of them simply taking place in the same space although at different times. That wasn’t what happened, and I did encounter some problems, whereby the one storyline gave away events in the other – which was a little frustrating.

With all that said, I did enjoy this book. The historical storyline, while a little too wholesome for me, did capture my imagination and The Storm Girl is very much a competent and go-getting type of gal that a modern audience will thrill to discover.

Will I try a dual timeline novel again, that remains to be seen? I confess I would have been happy to have the story revolve only around the historical elements, and not worry about the modern-day setting at all, but I more than understand that a dual timeline narrative is extremely popular, and I’m sure fans of this genre will be captivated by this tale of a place in two different timelines, over two hundred years apart, and will, hopefully, consider learning more about their own local history as a result of reading the book.

A firm 4/5 from me – I did appreciate the historical notes at the back of the novel.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Storm-Girl-Sweeping-historical-fiction-ebook/dp/B09VYLVP58/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Girl-Sweeping-historical-fiction-ebook/dp/B09VYLVP58/

Meet the Author

Kathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe but home is Mudeford, where this novel is set.

Connect with Kathleen 

https://kathleenmcgurl.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KathleenMcGurl

https://twitter.com/KathMcGurl

Follow the tour for The Storm Girl with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

Book Review and happy release day for – A Taste for Killing by Sarah Hawkswood – historical mystery

Here’s the blurb:

January, 1145. Godfrey Bowyer, the best but least likeable bow maker in Worcester, dies an agonising death by poisoning. Although similarly struck down after the same meal, his wife Blanche survives. The number of people who could have administered the poison should mean a very short investigation for the Sheriff’s men, Hugh Bradecote and Serjeant Catchpoll, but perhaps someone was pulling the strings, and that widens the net considerably. Could it be the cast-out younger brother or perhaps Orderic the Bailiff, whose wife may have had to endure Godfrey’s attentions? Could it even be the wife herself?

With Bradecote eager to return to his manor and worried about his wife’s impending confinement, and Underserjeant Walkelin trying to get his mother to accept his choice of bride, there are distractions aplenty, though Serjeant Catchpoll will not let them get in the way of solving this case.

This is the 10th title in this series, however it can be read alone!

Review

A Taste for Killing is my third Bradecote and Catchpoll Investigations book, and it is always fabulous to return to twelfth-century Worcester.

In A Taste for Killing, Bradecote, Catchpoll and Walkelin must uncover the true culprit when Godfrey Bowyer dies from poisoning. There are, as always, no end of possible suspects, and because this book takes place in Worcester, we meet all sorts of characters, from the burgesses to the maids, and even an old woman, on her death bed, and with a fabulous memory for things that happened many years ago.

The investigation is as tricky as always. Some information points one way, other information, another. I do love the way the author puts the solution together, with all the false leads and people guilty of something, if not the murder. The three main characters, while having their own, separate lives, don’t overburden the story with their storylines, and yet still add to it. All of the characters feel real, and as though they could have truly existed.

My biggest complaint would be that I didn’t want to murderer to be who it was, but still, a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the series. I’ll be reading the 7 books I’ve not yet gotten to when I have the time:)

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my review copy.

Check out my previous reviews for the series; Blood Runs Thicker and Wolf at the Door.

A Taste for Killing is released today, 12th May 2022.

Featured

I’m delighted to be taking part in today’s blog blitz for The Write Balance by Bonni Goldberg, and there’s a fabulous competition to enter as well #BlogBlitz

Here’s the blurb:

The Write Balance: How to Embrace Percolation, Revision & Going Public

Bonni Goldberg’s The Write Balance introduces you to alternative perspectives and motivation for lasting creative fulfillment. This companion book to the beloved bestseller, Room toWrite is filled with encouragement, tools, examples and exercises.

Through years of teaching writing in workshops and in classrooms, Bonni has seen that the writers who are most passionate and grounded in their Writing Self embrace three aspects of the writing process: nurturing ideas, revising to best communicate those ideas, and completing the writing cycle by going public.

In this powerful guide, Bonni invites you to explore these creative stages which are essential to satisfying your Writing Self.

Use The Write Balance to:

  • Find Fulfillment as a Writer
  • Explore Creative Writing
  • Add to Your Writer’s Toolbox for Perspective
  • Overcome Writer’s Block
  • Teach Creative Writing
  • Inspire Your Writing Group
  • Give as Gifts to the Writers in Your Life

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/u/3n2XQ9

Review

Believe it or not, The Write Balance, is the first book I’ve read on the process of writing. I’m just not that sort of person who thinks, ‘I want to do something, so I’ll read and research it first before I try.’ For writing, I just started writing, and have made all the mistakes along the way:)

As such, The Write Balance, was a great read. I recognised many of the scenarios mentioned in the book, and quickly came to understand that Bonni Goldberg’s intent for much of the book, was to teach the body to accept that writing, revision etc was going to take place and to be receptive to it – essentially, making the process physical as opposed to just mental. And I can really see how this would work. All writers make pacts with themselves about their expectations and targets. It’s how we go about meeting these expectations and reaching our targets which is often the hardest element. We need to train ourselves to accept the processes, and there will be many different ways of doing this, and the author makes some very valid suggestions.

I defy any writer to not find themselves in one, or many of the scenarios, and I do believe that writers will find answers throughout the book, and if not answers, then certainly a means of finding a solution.

A genuinely interesting read, that fellow writers and would be writers will find an invaluable resource, even if they only dip in and out of it, when looking for solutions, the knowledge that everyone suffers similar issues and when seeking a cheerleader who wants you to succeed.

Meet the author


Bonni Goldberg is the author of The Write Balance: How to Embrace Percolation, Revision & Going Public, the companion book to the best-seller Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer’s Life. Bonni is an award-winning poet and writer. She is the creator of the 2 Minute Journals™ series. Both traditionally and indie published, her books include non-fiction for adults and fiction and non-fiction for young readers. Her essays and blog posts can be found in numerous print and online publications.

Bonni teaches creative writing at colleges and leads writing workshops internationally for all ages. She knows everyone is creative, and she supports people to discover and share their authentic, meaningful and imaginative experiences through words. Whether through her writings or through teaching, her methods and perspectives continue to empower thousands of adults, families, and children.


Bonni is also a Jewish educator. She speaks, writes, and leads workshops on Jewish topics such as Jewish identity, rituals and antisemitism at Jewish women’s events, JCCs, and conferences. 

Bonni Goldberg lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner in life, and some creative projects, artist Geo Kendall.

Connect with Bonnie

www.bonnigoldberg.com
www.facebook.com/bonnigoldbergbooks
www.twitter.com/bonnigoldberg
www.instagram.com/goldbergbonni

Giveaway to win one of these prizes 

30-minute coaching call (video or phone if US)

Q&A Zoom with their group (video)

Feedback on 3 double spaced pages of their work (via email)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7598c2160/?

Follow the one day blog blitz for The Write Balance with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

Today, I’m excited to share an excerpt from The Admiral’s Wife by M K Tod #blogtour

Today, I’m excited to share an excerpt from The Admiral’s Wife by M K Tod.

Excerpt

August 1912 – The next hour passed in a blur as Flannigan unrolled and rerolled various bolts of cloth. Her selections made and the account tallied, Isabel gathered her things. “It looks rather stormy,” she said.

“We’re sure to get a big blow today, Mrs. Taylor. You might want to get home as soon as you can.”

Outside the wind was stronger and the sky was thick and menacing. Waves churned the harbor. Sampans lining the shore pitched up and down. The air smelled of lightning. An explosion sounded, the blast echoing in her ears.

Suddenly, the mood of the Praya changed. Chinese workers hurried away; some abandoned the tools of their trade—rickshaws, brooms, wheelbarrows, long poles, rickety chairs and tables—while others pushed, pulled, or carried their belongings with them. Those who made their homes and living on the sampans swarmed the decks of their vessels grabbing this and that, hurrying nimbly along the gunnels, and scrambling up the ladders connecting them to long-fingered piers.

The wind grew stronger. Isabel’s hat blew off, rolling along the Praya like a runaway wheel. Without thinking, she chased after it. Hampered by the bulk of her purchases, she weaved this way and that. Every time she got close, the wind picked her hat up again. It’s gone, she finally admitted as the blue concoction sailed off over the water and rain pelted down—big, fat drops that smacked her skin. I should return to Murphy’s and wait out the storm.

She swiveled around. The Praya was deserted. Several sampans were precariously close to capsizing. The wind that had previously been at her back now buffeted her with such force, she could barely keep her balance. Isabel braced herself against the gale. Murphy’s seemed a long way away.

The wind howled like an animal in distress. The rain grew in intensity. “One step at a time,” she muttered aloud. Left foot, right foot. Left foot, right foot. She caught a glimpse of a man falling from a sampan into the water. Should she try to rescue him? Would her skirts weigh her down so that she would only drown trying? The sky closed in. Day felt like night.

Isabel continued to push forward. Without warning, someone grabbed her arm. She struggled to break free.

“I’m trying to help you, Mrs. Taylor,” Li Tao-Kai said, his voice gruff. “Don’t you realize this is a typhoon?”

A typhoon. She’d heard about typhoons—the Asian equivalent to hurricanes—and had even heard about the devastation caused by one that hit Hong Kong in 1906, but she had no idea what such an event would be like. “How was I supposed to know?” she said.

“The typhoon signal went off.” 

“Was that the explosion I heard?”

He jerked his head in a quick nod and she thought he might be a little exasperated with her, although it was difficult to tell. They were both shouting to be heard. Li Tao-Kai held her arm firmly and a few minutes later, pulled her inside the shop.

“I saw a man fall into the water,” she said, as soon as she caught her breath. “He needs help.”

“We can’t go out again,” he said. “It’s dangerous. If you don’t believe me, look out the window to see for yourself.”

With the sun totally obscured and only one narrow window in Murphy’s Fine Silks and Linens, the interior was dim. Isabel hadn’t noticed the men milling about the room when she and Mr. Li had entered, but now she saw that there were about fifteen of them, a mix of Chinese and European. Isabel nodded in their direction, then crossed over to look out the window. Debris skittered along the Praya: bits of wood, sheets of paper, a straw hat, a broom. A table had fallen over and now scraped along the asphalt. She looked for the place where she’d seen the man fall, but everything was so topsy-turvy she could find no trace of him. A crash sounded as something smashed against the building.

“Step away from the window, Mrs. Taylor,” George Flannigan said. “It’s not safe.”

Isabel was so startled that she obeyed without question and took a spot standing next to Li Tao-Kai. Since his role brought him into frequent contact with the British community, she’d seen him on a few occasions following the opera and at times there’d been a chance to talk. He was an interesting man who, to her surprise, didn’t treat her as many men did: an attractive woman worthy of a flirtatious glance or two but unworthy of weighty conversation. She was just musing about whether he spoke to all women in the same fashion, when a bamboo pole shattered the window, flinging glass across the room.

“Good heavens!” she exclaimed. Her eyes wide with shock.

“Are you all right?” Li Tao-Kai asked.

“I think so.” Isabel spoke slowly. Nothing in her life had prepared her for a storm so fierce it left the surroundings looking like a bundle of jackstraws.

“Careful, I see something on your clothes.” He reached over and plucked a shard of glass from the sleeve of her dress.

The howls of the storm were deafening—like a train charging through a tunnel. Beyond the wind was the thumping and banging of debris tumbling past the warehouse. Without thinking, Isabel crossed to the window once more and peered out. Pellets of rain whipped her face.

“We have to help,” she said. “I can see women on the dock trying to save their children. They can barely stand. Look at them,” she urged.

“It’s too dangerous outside,” George Flannigan said.

“But we can’t just think of ourselves. Surely there are enough of us here to help.”

“You don’t understand how deadly typhoons can be,” Mr. Li said. “I’ve seen men blown down the street and trees uprooted by the force of the wind.” He shook his head. “It’s dangerous outside.”

“But those people could die without our help. If we were to form a human chain, each person standing close to the next person in line, we could rescue them. Whoever heads the line will help these people off their boats and hand them over to the next person in line and so on. Surely we can at least try.”

“It could work, Mr. Li,” George Flannigan said. “The wind has eased a bit, so we may have a few minutes before it strengthens again. Now might be the perfect time.”

“All right. We can try. But Mrs. Taylor remains in the shop.”

“I’ll do no such thing,” Isabel declared.

Li Tao-Kai drew his lips into a tight grimace. “If you’re determined to help, perhaps you will agree to be at the end closest to the shop.”

Isabel debated the benefit of further argument. “All right,” she said.

One by one, they stepped outside. When it was her turn, the wind tore at her clothes and rain pummeled her face. From all around she heard the clang, clatter, and smash of items hurled by the wind.

Here’s the blurb:

The lives of two women living in Hong Kong more than a century apart are unexpectedly linked by forbidden love and financial scandal.

In 2016, Patricia Findlay leaves a high-powered career to move to Hong Kong, where she hopes to rekindle the bonds of family and embrace the city of her ancestors. Instead, she is overwhelmed by feelings of displacement and depression. To make matters worse, her father, CEO of the family bank, insists that Patricia’s duty is to produce an heir, even though she has suffered three miscarriages.

In 1912, when Isabel Taylor moves to Hong Kong with her husband, Henry, and their young daughter, she struggles to find her place in such a different world and to meet the demands of being the admiral’s wife. At a reception hosted by the governor of Hong Kong, she meets Li Tao-Kai, an influential member of the Chinese community and a man she met a decade earlier when he was a student at Cambridge.

As the story unfolds, each woman must consider where her loyalties lie and what she is prepared to risk for love.

Trigger Warnings:
Brief sex scenes

Praise:

“Family secrets and personal ambitions, east and west, collide in this compelling, deeply moving novel.” — Weina Dai Randel, award-winning author of THE LAST ROSE OF SHANGHAI

“Irresistible and absorbing.” Janie Chang, bestselling author of THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS

Buy Links:

Amazon (Universal Link)

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CA:  Amazon AU

Meet the author

M.K. (Mary) Tod’s interest in historical fiction began as a teenager immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy, and Georgette Heyer. In 2004, her husband’s career took them to Hong Kong where, with no job and few prospects, Mary began what became Unravelled, her first novel. The Admirals Wife is her fifth novel.

Mary’s award-winning blog, www.awriterofhistory.com, focuses on reading and writing historical fiction. She’s an active member of the historical fiction community and has conducted five unique reader surveys on topics from readers’ habits and preferences to favorite historical fiction authors. Mary is happily married to her high-school sweetheart. They have two adult children and two delightful grandsons.

Connect with M K Tod

WebsiteBlogTwitter

FacebookLinkedInInstagram

BookBubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow The Admiral’s Wife blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

It’s my turn on the new release tour for Cause of Death by Anne Legat blog tour #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

All is not well in the village. The local meadows have been the pride of Bishops Well for hundreds of years, but now they are facing the sharp blades of developers. The landowner is a rich and reclusive author who is happy to see them destroyed, but the villagers – including Sam Dee and Maggie Kaye – are fighting back.

Until, that is, someone decides to silence one of their number permanently.

As Maggie and Sam soon discover, there is more than a quick buck to be made in the developers’ plans. There are age-old secrets and personal vendettas that could have deadly repercussions in Bishops Well today.

With Sam’s legal expertise and Maggie’s… well, Maggie-ness, they delve into the past, determined to unearth the truth. And, as sparks begin to fly, could there finally be something more between this sleuthing duo?

Here’s my review

Cause of Death is the third book in The Shires Mysteries, but the first one I’d read. I think this left me at a little bit of a disadvantage to begin with as Maggie has a quirk, that I didn’t know about, and it took me a while to work out what it was. Also, and this is a very personal complaint, so I apologise – this book has two points of view, but one is told first person, one third person and then there’a also an omnipresent narrator – I really struggle with books that don’t stick to one tense, and writing style.

That said, the story is intriguing, and I did want to know who the murderer was, so I continued reading, despite all my misgivings about tenses. Maggie is an intriguing character, but rather pushy and overbearing. Sam is a milder character, and more likely to apply reason to his conclusions. The story is quite twisty and there’s a touch of humour to it in places. The author has no qualms about making the resolutions quite complex and employing a large and diverse set of characters.

Overwhelmingly, this was an enjoyable and satisfying read, and I might just go back and read books 1 and 2:)

Purchase Links 

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3: A gripping and unputdownable English cosy mystery eBook : Legat, Anna: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3 eBook by Anna Legat – 9781786159892 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

Cause of Death by Anna Legat, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3 by Anna Legat | Waterstones

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3: A gripping and unputdownable English cosy mystery by Anna Legat | WHSmith

Meet the author

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. Murder isn’t the only thing on her mind. She dabbles in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dark humorous comedy, through magic realism to dystopian. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Connect with Anna

To find out more: https://annalegat.com/

Follow Anna on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LegatWriter

Join Anna on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnnaLegatAuthor/

Follow the Cause of Death blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

The Scribe by Elizabeth R Andersen is a BookBub deal for 99p on Amazon UK today

I’m giving a shout out to a fellow writer of historical fiction. Elizabeth R Andersen’s The Scribe is a BookBub deal today for just 99p on Amazon UK:) Check out her post from when I featured her on the blog a few months ago.

I love all the covers for this series.

Here’s the blurb:

All Henri of Maron wanted was to stay with his family on his country estate, surrounded by lemon groves and safety. But in 13th century Palestine, when noble-born boys are raised to fight for the Holy Land, young Henri will be sent to live and train among men who hate him for what he is: a French nobleman of an Arab mother. Robbed of his humanity and steeped in cruelty, his encounters with a slave soldier, a former pickpocket, and a kindly scribe will force Henri to confront his own beliefs and behaviors. Will Henri maintain the status quo in order to fit into a society that doesn’t want him, or will fate intervene first?

Here’s the buy link: Amazon UK

I’ve loved what I’ve read of this series (I am, as so often the case, working backwards through the series). Book 2 is available now, and Book 3 is released on 7th June 2022.

Enjoy.

Featured

Today, it’s my turn on the blog tour for Riding Pillion with George Clooney and other stories by Geraldine Ryan #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

Twelve moving short stories inspired by the everyday lives of women.

  • A single woman on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Italian lakes still dreams of adventure. Can she find it closer to home?
  • A grieving widow finds comfort in the company of a stray cat that bears striking similarities to her dead husband.
  • An estranged daughter confronts an unspeakable tragedy from her past as she attempts to reconcile with her long-lost family.

Geraldine Ryan is a prolific short-story writer whose work has appeared in Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break’s Fiction Feast magazines. The women in this, her first published anthology, may be at different stages of life but all of them are experiencing the ground shifting beneath their feet. Their tales of love, longing and redemption will touch your heart and bring a smile to your face.

Review

Riding Pillion with George Clooney and other short stories is an engaging collection of short stories of women, many of them bitter sweet, but all empowering. A particular favourite of mine was ‘After Harriet’ a story of grief, guilt and the need for forgiveness.

All of the stories are told with skill, ensuring the reading understands the characters they meet. Riding Pillion with George Clooney might well be the story that snags the attention of the reader, but all of the women we meet are endearing to the reader, highlighting struggled which many of us might understand only too well.

A delightful collection of short stories, that I highly recommend.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Riding-Pillion-George-Clooney-Stories-ebook/dp/B09WLRM8PP/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Riding-Pillion-George-Clooney-Stories-ebook/dp/B09WLRM8PP/

Meet the Author

Geraldine Ryan is a proud Northerner who has spent most of her life in Cambridge – the one with the punts. She holds a degree in Scandinavian Studies but these days the only use she puts it to is to identify which language is being spoken among the characters of whatever Scandi drama is currently showing on TV. She worked as a teacher of English and of English as a second or foreign language for many years, in combination with rearing her four children, all of whom are now grown up responsible citizens. Her first published story appeared in My Weekly in 1993. Since then her stories have appeared in Take-a-Break, Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly as well as in women’s magazines abroad. She has also written 2 young adult novels- ‘Model Behaviour’ (published by Scholastic) and ‘The Lies and Loves of Finn’ (Channel 4 Books.) This anthology of previously published short stories will be, she hopes, only the first of several.

 https://twitter.com/GeraldineRyan

Follow the Riding Pillion with George Clooney blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence #BookReview #Fantasy

Here’s the blurb:

The fate of the world hangs from the Moon

The green world overwhelms all of Yaz’s expectations. Everything seems different but some things remain the same: her old enemies are still bent on her destruction. 

The Corridor abounds with plenty and unsuspected danger. To stand a chance against the eyeless priest, Eular, and the god-like city-mind, Seus, Yaz will need to learn fast and make new friends.

The Convent of Sweet Mercy, like the Corridor itself, is packed with peril and opportunity. Yaz needs the nuns’ help – but first they want to execute her.

The fate of everyone squeezed between the Corridor’s vast walls, and ultimately the fate of those labouring to survive out on ice itself, hangs from the moon, and the battle to save the moon centres on the Ark of the Missing, buried beneath the emperor’s palace. Everyone wants Yaz to be the key that will open the Ark – the one the wise have sought for generations. But sometimes wanting isn’t enough.

THE GIRL AND THE MOON is the third and final volume in The Book of Ice trilogy.

Review

I’ve been reading Mark Lawrence’s books since the very beginning. I have a paperback copy of Prince of Thorns, which I noticed the other day actually says ‘map forthcoming’ on the map page:) (Check out my previous reviews here; The Girl and the Stars, The Girl and the Mountain (Book of the Ice 1 and 2). Red Sister, Grey Sister, Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor Trilogy). One Word Kill, Limited Wish)

Never once, in all the books I’ve read, has he finished a trilogy the way I wanted him to do so. He is infuriatingly consistent with this, and still, I hope, each and every time, to have the answers to all I want to know. And now, with the end of the Book of the Ice, I find myself not only without the ending I ‘thought’ I was going to get, but much, much worse, feeling as though I need to go back and read ALL the books again to unpick the ‘threads’ and perhaps find the answers I want for myself. Grrrr.

To me, this means Mark Lawrence remains at the top of his game, and while I might find it all very frustrating, that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the books, and the universe(s)? he’s created.

A fine end to another great trilogy, and one I took my time with because, quite frankly, I didn’t want it to end, not in the end:)

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my review copy.

Follow Mark here – and just to say, if you’re not yet sure, his Patreon is fab, and a great way to keep up to date with all he’s doing. And he’s not shy with his book giveaways either. Twitter.

Featured

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Ann Bennett and her new book, The Lake Pagoda to the blog #blogtour

I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Ann Bennett’s new book, The Lake Pagoda.

Excerpt

They moved on beyond the prayer hall to another square where the great red-brick pagoda soared above them, its eleven roofs jutting out from the walls at regular intervals, with the still, white Buddhas looking down impassively at them from each level. Arielle leaned back and stared up to the top of the pagoda where a marble lotus soared even higher into the sky. 

In front of the pagoda was an altar, where more incense burned and people had laid flowers, candles and fruit as offerings.

‘Come, let us meditate and pay our respects to the Buddha,’ said Ba Noi, laying her lotus flower on the altar, stepping back and sitting down on the stone floor, lotus style. Arielle followed suit, laying her incense, candles and flower on the altar, then sitting down beside her grandmother. It was hard to force her unaccustomed legs into the lotus position, even though she was several generations younger than Ba Noi who managed it with ease. 

Arielle closed her eyes and tried to settle her mind, allowing the chanting of the monks in the monastery, the discordant clang of the temple bells and the gentle voices of other worshippers to calm her down. They sat for ten or fifteen minutes and during that time, try as she might, Arielle couldn’t empty her mind of thoughts. It kept returning to Etienne again and again. What was he doing now? Where was he? Had she been wrong about him and wrong to trust his assurances about his business? What did the future hold for the two of them? At last she heard Ba Noi getting to her feet, so she gave up the struggle to meditate, but she vowed to return to the temple. It felt good being here, connecting with her mother’s faith, letting the calm of this spiritual place permeate her soul.

‘Come, I need to go home now,’ said Ba Noi. ‘I am tired and I need my bed.’

‘Me too,’ said Arielle, a feeling of trepidation creeping through her at the thought of the huge, empty house she must go back to, alone but for the reticent servants. 

They returned along the walkways to the yellow gateway where they put on their shoes and bowed their heads to the monk as they went through the gates. As they did so, a man stepped out from the shadows beyond the gate. He was dressed all in black and he came forward bowing his head respectfully to Ba Noi.

‘Good evening, phu nhan – madame,’ he said. Ba Noi stopped, a smile spreading across her face.

‘Good evening, Xan. Nice to see you here on this beautiful evening. I hope you are well. This is my granddaughter, Arielle. Madame Garnier, in fact.’

The man turned his attention to Arielle, and she felt his serious, dark eyes sweep down her body, scrutinising her from head to toe, like the beam from a searchlight. He held out his hand and she took it, feeling the warmth and strength of his as she shook it.

‘Good to make your acquaintance, Madame Garnier. I read about your wedding in the newspaper the other day. Your husband is … an important man,’ he trailed off but still he held her gaze. She looked away, the honesty in his look felt intrusive somehow.

‘He is just a businessman,’ she said, wondering how and why this man knew about Etienne or was interested in their marriage.

‘Of course. Well, phu nhan, Madame Garnier, very nice to see you. I must go and do my devotions now. But perhaps I will see you here again one evening soon?’

‘You will, of course,’ said Ba Noi, putting her hand on Arielle’s back to usher her to the gate. As they walked away, Arielle felt those black eyes boring into her back. 

‘Who’s that?’ she asked. ‘He’s a bit intense, isn’t he?’

‘Oh, I often see him here,’ said Ba Noi. ‘He is a very nice man. But he has every reason to be serious. He is a communist. Fighting the corner of exploited workers all over Indochina. He is very passionate and serious about his cause.’

Here’s the blurb:

Indochina 1945: Arielle, who is half-French, half-Vietnamese, is working as a secretary for the French colonial government when the Japanese storm Hanoi. Although her Asian blood spares her from imprisonment, she is forced to work for the occupiers. The Viet Minh threaten to reveal dark secrets from her past if she won’t pass them information from her new masters.

Drawn ever deeper into the rebels’ dangerous world, will Arielle ever escape the torment of her past? Or will she find love amidst the turmoil of war? 

A novel of love, loss, war, and survival against all odds. 

Trigger Warnings:

Violence

Buy Links:

Available on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link: http://mybook.to/lakepagoda

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Meet the author

Ann Bennett was born in Pury End, a small village in Northamptonshire, UK and now lives in Surrey. Her first book, A Daughter’s Quest, originally published as Bamboo Heart, was inspired by her father’s experience as a prisoner of war on the Thai-Burma Railway. The Planter’s Wife (originally Bamboo Island) a Daughter’s Promise and The Homecoming, (formerly Bamboo Road), The Tea Panter’s Club and The Amulet are also about the war in South East Asia, all six making up the Echoes of Empire Collection.

Ann is also author of The Runaway Sisters, The Orphan House, and The Child Without a Home, published by Bookouture.

The Lake Pavilion and The Lake Palace are both set in British India in the 1930s and 40s. Her latest book, The Lake Pagoda, set in French Indochina in the 30s and 40s, will be published in April 2022.

Ann is married with three grown up sons and a granddaughter and works as a lawyer. For more details please visit http://www.bambooheart.co.uk

Connect with Anne Bennett

Website:  TwitterFacebook

Book BubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow The Lake Pagoda blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

Today, I’m delighted to host J R Tomlin and her new book, The Douglas Bastard #blogtour

Today, I’m delighted to share an excerpt from J R Tomlin’s new book, The Douglas Bastard.

I was amazed that the small horses could wend their way in the darkness with no trail to follow. An icy wind rattled the branches of the pines. Hooves thudded on the iron-hard, frozen earth. I shivered and pulled my cloak close, following closely behind John. Behind us, the hundred or so men-at-arms rode in silence, half of them with bows on their backs and quivers hanging from their belts. I strained to see the ground, watching for holes that might make my horse stumble. 

“Colban, go up on the ridge. Light a small fire when you spot them—just enough that I can see the smoke, mind you.” He ordered Wemyss to remain there to cut off anyone who escaped their ambush.

The cots at Hawick were no more than a couple of dark lumps as we rode past, still circling the road. We sloshed through a shallow, icy stream that would leave no sign of our passing and entered another dense patch of pine. Sir William dismounted. The rest of us followed his lead. 

The dirt road was only about five feet across. 

“John, keep half the men on this side of the road. I will take the other half on the other. Dinnae fire until I give my cry. No one.” He grasped my shoulder. “And you stay behind us. You have nae part in the fighting.”

David de la Hay took ten men farther along to block anyone who fled in that direction.

A couple of the men gathered the horses and led them along the stream while the others cut branches to use as a screen. I took out my dagger and hacked at some, dragging them near the road until they were a waist-high blind. I chuckled that so far my main job in the few fights we had been in had been carrying branches or stones. I knew that Sir William had a duty to protect me, but I was sure that I did not need protecting. I would make sure my cousin would soon see that.

I hunkered down next to Gamelin behind the piled branches, but the man pushed him back. 

I peeked over the top of his shoulder at the long, cold stretch of road, in deep shadows beneath the leaden clouds that hid the daybreak. The cold sank in through my clothes as we hunched on the icy ground, then flakes of snow began drifting through the trees.

Sir William paced behind them one more time, reminding them to wait for the command, then he joined Gamelin, squatting next to him. He loosened his sword in its sheath and checked his dirk. 

The snow settled in my hair, and I thrust my hands into my armpits, wondering how the archers would shoot with their fingers stiff from the cold. When I turned to whisper the question, I realized they were staring at where a flock of pigeons had burst from the trees at the turn of the road. The birds rose above the trees and flew in circles.

A thin wisp of smoke was rising from the ridge. I pointed, and Sir William patted my shoulder.

“Nock arrows,” Sir William said. “Make sure you have a good clean shot.” 

Here, I noticed, the horses could only go at most double file with barely room to turn. A good spot for an ambush, something to remember. I loosened my dagger in its sheath and got my hand slapped.

A whinny and the clank of a harness came from around the bend. A horse clattered into sight, a destrier, brown coat glistening. Sir William said in a low voice, “Wait—wait—” 

The guard rode at the head of the supply train at an amble, one hand relaxed on his thigh. His shield hung from his saddlebow. A long line of sumpters and more guards came behind.

The guard in the front had almost reached us. I swallowed hard, fought my rapid breathing. Sir William held up a hand, still waiting. Sweat ran down my forehead and ribs, making me shiver. Then another reached us, all the men strung out riding single file. The guard in the lead was halfway to where Sir William’s last man waited.

“Now! Fire!” 

They were all on their feet. The thwap of bowstrings filled the air, and the thud as the arrows landed. 

Sir William yelled, “A Douglas! A Douglas!” He plunged through the thin pile of branches, sword in his hand.

“A Douglas! A Douglas!” Shouts came from every direction.

A man-at-arms kicked his horse in a circle, trying to reverse. Instead, an arrow pierced its chest. It reared, screaming in pain. The rider crashed into the road. Before he could rise, Sir William thrust down through his neck. Riderless horses reared and plunged. A man-at-arms jerked his reins to head the way they had come and jammed spurs into its flanks. It plunged, hooves scoring deep and dirt flying. An arrow winged after him but missed. Another man beside him put a shaft through the Englishman’s chest.

Gamelin and the others were in the road, grabbing the halters of the sumpter horses before they bolted, while others joined Sir William in putting down anyone still alive. 

The few English still ahorse kicked their horses into a run. They jammed into men flying the other way. “A Douglas!” Sir William shouted again. “At them!”

Hand on the hilt of my dagger, I edged into the road. I knew if I disobeyed, I would surely get a belting, but my pulse hammered so hard in my ears it was like a drumbeat, calling me to war. I looked for something, anything I could do. Then a hard hand grabbed the back of my neck and jerked me back. 

“Out of the way, whelp,” Sir William snarled, shoving me toward the trees. 

All across the road, swords slashed as they went. An ax hit Gamelin’s shoulder, and he tumbled back, skidding in the piney detritus and leaving a track of blood. Sir William buried his blade in the man’s belly. The English shouted curses as they tried to flee. 

“Gamelin,” I shouted and shoved my way through the branches. I dropped to my knees next to my friend, who was cursing through gritted teeth. There was a tear in his chainmail, and blood was pouring out of a gash in his shoulder. I slashed a piece off my tunic and stuffed it onto the wound. 

“You need to learn to stay out of trouble, lad,” Gamelin muttered. His head lolled back. 

He was still bleeding, so he couldn’t be dead. I pressed down harder and looked around. 

In the road lay dead enemies. A few injured horses were being put out of their pain, but not many. Everyone from both sides of the road was gathering the halters of the sumpters.

“Strip the bodies,” Sir William shouted. His smile was a dour slash. “This should fill our larders for the winter.” Then he strode over to squat beside the injured man. “We will bandage him up. He might make it.” He turned a cold glare on me. “You, I shall deal with when we reach home.”

Here’s the blurb:

The Black Douglas is dead. With Scotland’s greatest knight no more, the throne is up for grabs as enemies try to devour the kingdom.

An orphaned youth returning from exile, Archibald, the Black Douglas’s bastard son, fights for a land being torn apart from within and without. If Archibald is to survive, he must learn to sleep with a claymore in his hand and one eye open because even his closest friend might betray him…

This is an adventure set in the bloody Second Scottish War of Independence when Scotland’s very survival is in question.

Buy Links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and NobleKoboApple Books

Meet the author

J. R. Tomlin is the author of nineteen historical novels.

She has close ties with Scotland since her father was a native Scot, and she spent substantial time in Edinburgh while growing up. Her historical novels are set for the most part in Scotland. Her love of that nation is traced from the stories of Robert the Bruce and the Good Sir James her grandmother read to her when she was small, to hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite hills have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun. Later, her writing was influenced by Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, Nigel Tranter, and Sir Walter Scott.

When JR isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, playing with her Westie, and killing monsters in computer games. In addition to spending time in Scotland, she has traveled in the US, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. She now lives in Oregon.

Connect with JR Tomlin

WebsiteTwitterBookBub

Amazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow The Douglas Bastard blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
Featured

#TheLastKing is 2 years old today. Join me and the hosts of today’s blog tour in celebrating

If you’ve been with Coelwulf, Rudolf, Icel, Edmund and Pybba since the beginning, then you’re probably with me in trying to work out how 2 years have gone by since the release of the first book.

I thought it worthy of a huge celebration, and so The Last King is on blog tour for today only with a whole swathe of hosts from Rachel’s Random Resources. Check out their posts and blogs, and you really might enjoy those hosts that have an excerpt from the book. When I was choosing them, it reminded me of all the things that drew me these characters, and this book, and made me write it the way that I did. The exuberance is difficult to ignore. (And remember – there are Clean(er) versions of all the books available in ebook format without the more offensive word that rhymes with something that quacks).

I’m going to pop some links here to blog posts I’ve shared in the past.

Lady Cyneswith

Rudolf

Don’t forget to check out the short story collection, Coelwulf’s Company, and preorder book 7, The Last Seven.

Giveaway to Win a Hardback Copy of The Last King (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize. (These are Rachel’s Random Resources terms and conditions – as the author, I am responsible for sending the winner their book:))

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494491/?

I’ll be adding links as I find them throughout the day:)


http://www.nikipreston.com/
https://jessicabelmont.com/
https://ebookaddicts.net
www.davidsbookblurg.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/chaptersofvicki
https://www.instagram.com/fantasybookcraz_mum
https://nickislifeofcrime.blogspot.co.uk
https://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com/
Bforbookreview.wordpress.com
https://www.thepursuitofbookiness.co.uk/
https://medium.com/@authorbeccamcculloch
https://www.booksblog.co.uk/
http://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com
http://www.chezmaximka.blogspot.com
https://ruinsandreading.blogspot.com/

Featured

Cragside, again, in photos

It’s not very often that I actually get to visit the places I write about. Very little of Saxon England remains as it would have been. But for Cragside, I could visit as often as I liked, and I did. I’m going to share some images of the interior of the house with you. These were either taken during December 2021, so might be a bit Christmasy, or were taken in August 2021. (apologises to people I’ve accidentally snapped).

Cragside: A 1930s murder mystery is now available in ebook, hardback, paperback and audio.

Featured

It’s my turn on the new release blog tour for The Capsarius by Simon Turney #AriesFiction #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

Warrior and combat medic, Titus Cervianus, must lead a legion and quell the uprisings in Egypt in a new Roman adventure from Simon Turney.
Egypt. 25 BC.

Titus Cervianus and the Twenty Second Deiotariana have been sent to deal with uprisings and chaos in Egypt. Yet the Twenty Second is no ordinary legion. Founded as the private royal army of one of Rome’s most devoted allies, the king of Galatia, their ways are not the same as the other legions, a factor that sets them apart and causes friction with their fellow soldiers.

Cervianus is no ordinary soldier, either. A former surgeon from the city of Ancyra, he’s now a capsarius – a combat medic. Cervianus is a pragmatist, a scientist, and truly unpopular with his legion.

Marching into the unknown, Cervianus will find unexpected allies in a local cavalryman and a troublesome lunatic. Both will be of critical importance as the young medic marches into the searing sands of the south, finding forbidden temples, dark assassins, vicious crocodiles, and worst of all, the warrior queen of Kush…

Amazon Link:

Review

I really enjoyed The Capsarius. I’ve read some of Simon Turney’s Roman fiction in the past, but this book, without its focus on Roman Rome, is a little different, and very enjoyable.

I didn’t read this book quickly – rather I enjoyed it slowly, taking delight in reading a small amount each day over an extended period. It’s a story rich with detail, as our main character, The Capsarius, travels through a land he is clearly excited to visit, being so very strange to his birth lands, and yet one he understands is filled with danger. The heat, the lack of water, and the need to stay close to the great river Nile, bring into play some very dangerous enemies, the crocodiles of the delta.

The Capsarius is not your usual Roman warrior. He’s a skilled and widely read individual, keen to hold on to the ideals he has as a medic in the Roman army, even though he’s pitted against just about everyone in the legion, and his superiors really don’t seem to like him a great deal – not that it worries him. He’s a man of reason, and yet one who’s thrust into a strange land, with even stranger gods, and gods who seem to speak to him. The interplay between the reasoned man forced to question his beliefs because of the pervading Egyptian religion is skillfully drawn.

This is a slow burn, which rewards the reader with two really quite different battle scenes in the second half of the book when our Roman hero finally encounters his elusive enemy, and I’m already looking forward to book 2.

A wonderful read – with just the right amount of humour and peril – set in a wonderfully drawn land of intrigue and danger.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy, and for inviting me onto the new release blog tour.

Meet the author

Simon Turney is from Yorkshire and, having spent much of his childhood visiting historic sites, fell in love with the Roman heritage of the region. His fascination with the ancient world snowballed from there with great interest in Rome, Egypt, Greece and Byzantium. His works include the Marius’ Mules and Praetorian series, the Tales of the Empire and The Damned Emperor series, and the Rise of Emperors books with Gordon Doherty.

Follow Simon
Twitter: @SJATurney
Instagram: @simonturney_aka_sjaturney

Website: http://simonturney.com/

Don’t forget to stop by the other reviewers on The Capsarius new release blog tour.

headofzeus.com@AriesFiction

Not convinced yet? Do check out my other reviews for Simon Turney’s Roman era books. Commodus, Sons of Rome, Masters of Rome, Emperors of Rome.

Featured

Today, I’m delighted to welcome HS Burney and The Lake Templeton Murders to the blog

Today, I’m delighted to welcome HS Burney to the blog, with a post about the inspiration for her new novel, The Lake Templeton Murders.

The Lake Templeton Murders is set in a fictional town in Vancouver Island in British Columbia on the West Coast of Canada. An idyllic oasis of only five thousand people, Lake Templeton is an undeveloped gem craving to be a tourist paradise. It’s not as accessible as neighbouring towns and doesn’t have the same infrastructure, hotels, and tourist attractions. But it boasts a lot of ocean-facing vacation homes. There is also a small knot of locals. Lake Templeton is a great place to hide when you’re weary of city life. Or looking to hide away from your past.

Because of its pristine natural beauty, Lake Templeton is a place that is ripe for development. It’s the object of an ambitious revitalization project intended to turn it into a tourist mecca. The murder happens just as the town is hanging on the precipice of this change. Funds are being raised. The future looks bright. But for now, Lake Templeton is still a forgotten little beachy watering hole, that only has one private airline operating out of it, run by a mysterious lone owner-operator. 

In a town like Lake Templeton, a murder is a rarity. It creates ripples of shock. It endangers gossip. And questions. Lots of them. That’s one of the reasons why so many are keen to write off the suspicious death as an accident or a suicide. After all, who would want to hurt Sharon Reese? She was just an unassuming City Treasurer, living a mild life in a small town. 

Like with many seemingly banal small towns, at Lake Templeton, there is a lot simmering under the surface. The town contains a small Mayor’s office, but it’s rife with political intrigue. The mayor is an enigmatic young woman who seems misplaced in a town of this nature. Why would she choose to settle here instead of pursuing bigger political ambitions in Vancouver? 

When writing The Lake Templeton Murders, my setting was inspired by British Columbia, a place I am lucky to call home. Although I live in a big city, I’ve spent many enjoyable days tracking through the small coastal towns of British Columbia. Pristine waterfront, miles of ocean, sparkling blue skies, and a panorama of mountains – this is what makes British Columbia such an attractive place to live and visit.

When I’m driving through these small towns many of which boast a single grocery store, a modest town square, maybe a lone medical clinic or two, I often wonder – what type of people live here? What are their lives like? Why do they choose to live here? Lake Templeton is inspired by these real and imagined stories. 

Last summer, I had the pleasure of traveling to Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. We arrived there to find that restaurants followed no set opening and closing schedule. It depended on the whims of the owner – and the number of guests they had that day. The lone breakfast spot was run by a single owner-operator who fried our eggs herself. This is what I envisioned when I conceived of Lake Templeton.

Thank you so much for sharing on the blog. Good luck with the book:)

Here’s the blurb:

A body washes up on the shores of Lake Templeton, a small town on the coast of Vancouver Island. Sharon Reese, the victim, was a dedicated government employee. Everyone liked her, but no one knew much about her. Was she hiding something? Maybe a questionable past riddled with scandal. And did it lead to her plunge to death, in a drunken stupor, off the dock outside her secluded lakefront lodge?

Was it an accident? A suicide? Or cold-blooded murder? Private Investigator, Fati Rizvi, is determined to find out. 

Fati arrives in Lake Templeton to find secrets that run as deep as the City’s sewers. Everyone is hiding something and nothing is as it seems. A cult escapee. A corrupt politician. A struggling airline. A multi-million dollar public-private project to revitalize the Lake Templeton waterfront. How are they all connected? 

As Fati valiantly unravels the knots, another body is found on the shore. Is it the same killer? And can Fati stop them before they strike again?

Purchase Link

Amazon US   Amazon UK

Kobo

Meet the author

HS Burney writes fast-moving, action-packed mysteries set against the backdrop of majestic mountains and crystalline ocean in West Coast Canada. She loves creating characters that keep you on your toes. A corporate executive by day and a novelist by night, HS Burney received her Bachelors’ in Creative Writing from Lafayette College. A proud Canadian immigrant, she takes her readers into worlds populated by diverse characters with unique cultural backgrounds. When not writing, she is out hiking, waiting for the next story idea to strike, and pull her into a new world. 

Connect with HS Burney

https://hsburney.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HS-Burney-Author-113028981189771

https://www.instagram.com/hsburneyauthor/

https://twitter.com/hsburneyauthor

https://mailchi.mp/d6b48197e368/hsburneyemaillist

Giveaway to Win $10 Amazon Gift Card. (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494486/?

Don’t forget to follow The Lake Templeton Murders blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

Pagan Warrior is now available in audio (The Seventh Century) (Tales of Mercia)

I’m really pleased to be able to share that Pagan Warrior, book 1 in the Gods and Kings Trilogy, is now available in audio.

If you’ve listened to The Custard Corpses, then yes, it’s the same narrator, Matt Coles, but wow, have I tested him with this one. I am genuinely amazed by the skill in which he’s brought the motley collection of warring kings to life from seventh century Britain. And, even if you’re read the book, I would recommend listening to the story as well. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to the narration.

Here’s the link to the book books2read.com/PaganWarrior

I don’t think the audio is yet live on iTunes, but it will be soon.

M.J Porter – Wolf of Mercia @rararesources @BoldwoodBooks @coloursofunison #WolfOfMercia #SharonBTB

Today I’m really happy to have Wolf of Mercia by M.J Porter on my blog, on behalf of Rachel’s Random Resources. Thanks to Rachel, Boldwood Books and NetGalley for my copy of the book. As a lone wolf inside a Wessex stronghold, Icel must ensure his own and Mercia’s triumph. Icel is becoming a warrior […]

M.J Porter – Wolf of Mercia @rararesources @BoldwoodBooks @coloursofunison #WolfOfMercia #SharonBTB