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It’s short story week. Coelwulf’s Company and The Mercian Brexit are both 99pUK/99cUS on Kindle

Sometimes, when I’m writing a scene, I just have to write something to go with it, a side story, a prequel, just something that ties up loose ends between one book series, and another, and so, Coelwulf’s Company, a collection of short stories from before the beginning of The Last King. Have you wondered what all our fierce warriors were up to before The Last King? How Coelwulf came to command his warriors? Hopefully, you’ll find some of the answers here in my first collection of short stories featuring the characters from The Last King, and also one character from Son of Mercia!

And, if you’ve read the Chronicles of the English, and are wondering where to go next, then The Mercian Brexit, is an attempt to bridge some of the gap between that trilogy and the Lady Elfrida books. At 15,000 words, The Mercian Brexit is one of my longer short stories, but equally, not as long as some of them have ended up (Cnut was supposed to only ever be 50,000 words but ended up over 100,000 – so not so very short after all.)

Both books are also available to read with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription.

These aren’t my only short stories. You can also find one in The Historical Times magazine from July 2022, and there are also a couple on my author platform with Aspects of History, and I plan on writing many more as well.

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#Jason by Mark Knowles is now available, and so I’m reminding you of my review for #Argo, and giving a shout out for, the #BladesofBronze books

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

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Welcome to The Last Seven (cover reveal) #TheNinthCentury #Coelwulf

I’m excited to share this one with you. I mean, we all knew what it was going to look like, but all the same, I think this looks suitably menacing for a title like that:)

Here’s the blurb:

He sent twenty men to infiltrate three hundred. It had to be enough.

While Archbishop Wulfhere of York begs for assistance against Jarl Halfdan, now living in Northumbria, Bishop Smithwulf of London is eager for Coelwulf to forge an alliance with King Alfred of Wessex. And the three Raider jarls continue to hold Grantabridge. Yet, Coelwulf has so far managed to dismiss all of these concerns, his worry only with his missing warrior, Pybba.

But while searching for Pybba, events overtake Coelwulf, his men are murdered, and his aunt taken, but by which of his enemies?

If Coelwulf fails to rescue his aunt alive, then what hope does he have for keeping his kingdom secure?

The year is AD875 and the men of Mercia must once more ride into the fray. The future of Mercia depends on them.

Preorder now

books2read.com/TheLastSeven

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Today, I’m really delighted to be welcoming Adam Lofthouse to the blog, with a post about his new Roman-era historical novel, Valentia, which is released today (and which I’ve already read and reviewed)

Here’s the blurb:

Meet Tribune Sixtus Victorinus. Drunken soldier. Absent father. Unlikely hero.

Wall of Hadrian, Britannia, AD 367

It’s just another day, until it isn’t. Tribune Sixtus Victorinus is scouting north of the Wall when he first sees the smoke. Little does he know it’s about to change his life forever. Riding south he finds a province in chaos, the local populace in flight, the soldiers absent. 

For rebellion is in the air at the far reaches of empire. The land is ablaze, overrun with barbarians, ‘Valentia’, is the word on everyone’s lips. And no one seems to have the first clue what to do about it. 

And so Victorinus must act. He has let his life run to ruin, drunk his youth away. Now he must forge himself into the soldier he always wanted to be, the hero his children think he is. 

Because his family are among the missing, and traitors lurk much closer than he could ever believe. 

To save his family, he must first save an empire.

Buy Now

Adam Lofthouse the idea behind Valentia

I’m not very good at remembering where the ideas for my stories come from. I can remember researching for my first, The Centurion’s Son, and trying to find a period in Roman history that hadn’t already been ‘done’ by the authors I loved reading (Ben Kane, Anthony Riches, Conn Iggulden, Simon Scarrow etc) I settled on the Marcomannic War, but as for the idea of Albinus and his strained relationship with his father, I literally couldn’t tell you how I came up with it. 

For this one though, I sort of know. I was reading the excellent Imperial Brothers by William Hughes, which covers in great detail the reigns of Emperor Valentinian in the west and his brother Valens in the east. I’d researched the period before, and my first attempt at a novel was even set in the eastern empire during Valens’ reign, based around the battle of Adrianople (the book was bloody awful, but I learnt a few things whilst hacking away at my keyboard)

But researching the same period again, and having a few novels under my belt, I felt much more confident diving back into the time period. I discovered something known as the barbarico conspirito (barbarian conspiracy to you and me) which took place in the year 367AD. Britain in that year was effectively cut off from the western empire, as tribes from north of Hadrian’s wall, Ireland and Germania all swarmed on the isolated population at once. 

It instantly caught my attention, my imagination running wild as I thought of the possibilities. I needed a hero, a man to base my story around. What I came up with was Sixtus Victorinus, an aging tribune of the miles areani (a scouting unit that roamed the wild lands north of Hadrian’s Wall, keeping tabs on the Picts). I’ve always been drawn to the sort of anti-hero, and some of the best books I’ve read are centred around them (read The Damned by Tarn Richardson; Inquisitor Poldek Tacit is a phenomenal creation). I started delving into his past, into his mind. The idea of an estranged wife and kids, of drinking to hide the shame of a wasted life, full of regret for the path that remained untrodden, sprang from me, and I knew I had my man. 

The other thing that drew me to this event was the amount of real-life people I could throw in to the story. Magnus Maximus and Theodosius the Great both feature (before they elevated themselves to the purple and took those names, pointed their respective armies at each other and brought the Roman world into civil war – but that’s a tale for another book), so too do the magister militum Flavius Jovinus, and the Theodosius the Great’s father, the Count Theodosius. The more I researched the more found myself itching to get started, but I still needed an antagonist, someone who could have been powerful and ambitious enough to be the man behind the conspirito. 

Enter stage and left, Lupus Valentinus. A senator recorded as being banished from the emperor’s court for a crime that has not survived the centuries, only avoiding execution thanks to a friend in Rome having a word in Valentinian’s ear. He was perfect, not in the least because of his name. 

Valentia is a word that crops up when researching the later western empire, but no one can quite agree on what it was. Some say it was for a time the northernmost province in Britain, between Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall, others have it as being south of the Wall. Others say it was something else entirely. Again, this worked perfectly for me. I could have it as Valentinus’ own province, the beginning of a new world he was birthing on Britain’s northern soil. He hadn’t though, banked on our anti hero Victorinus to step up and fight him for the right.  

So, I had my story, throw in some stunning artwork by the wonderful folk at More Visual (check them out at bookartwork.com) and I have a book. It was an utter joy to write, and I do hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

Thank you so much for sharing Adam. I wish you tonnes of luck for the new release, and below is my review of Valentia, a fantastic novel.

My Review

Valentia by Adam Lofthouse is a fascinating reimagining of Britannia during the late 360s. This then is Roman Britain, complete with Roman soldiers and senators, Roman weapons and, of course, Hadrian’s Wall. (It’s the 1900 anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall this year, so it’s all quite apt:)) But, this is also a world of Germanic warriors, Saxon invaders, the tribes from beyond the Wall, and even some pirates.

Historically, the end of Roman Britain might be a few years in the future, but this is a world on the brink, the reach of the Romans starting to fade, and the events in Valentia tell of a people as yet unaware of the coming calamities, and, Adam tells it very well. We have abandoned Roman forts, discontent Roman soldiers who aren’t getting paid on time, and the tribes from across Hadrian’s Wall more aware of what might be happening than the Romans. And the emperor is very far away in Rome.

Our two main characters, Tribune Sixtus Victorinus, and Felicius are opposites of the same coin; one jaded and a drunk, the other, still a career Roman soldier. Between them, they must disentangle the unexplained events on the borderlands, and then they must rouse support from all that they can to defeat the coming rebellion.

Valentia starts fantastically well, immediately sucking the reader into the world of the 360s. It’s really quite hard to put the book down as the tension ramps up. Tribune Sixtus is a sympathetic character, for all, he is perhaps to blame for many of his problems. The small group of warriors who make up his area of command are well-sketched, and there is tragedy in the offing. Felicius’ life is more regimented, and it is Felicius who gives us the glimpse of what it was to be a Roman in the waning years of the Empire.

I really enjoyed Valentia. The book starts with a bang and builds really well to its conclusion, meeting a great cast of characters on the way. If you’re a fan of stories set in Saxon England, then you’ll love this earlier glimpse of Britannia.

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I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Jenny Knipfer’s new book, On Bur Oak Ridge #blogtour

I’m sharing an excerpt from Jenny Knipfer’s new historical fiction novel, On Bur Oak Ridge. I hope you enjoy.

Molly

I remember the day Jacob asked me to dance, staring at me across the room in the hotel ballroom in Land O’ Lakes—the day we met.

“You should go talk to him. He’s handsome,” my friend Kitty French—a young woman as silly and feminine as her name suggests—whispered in my ear, her arm tucked around my elbow in a conspiratorial fashion.

The man with a dark complexion, trim beard, and mustache of umber-brown, met my gaze, our eyes strung together by an unseen cord. Dressed in a charcoal-toned suit, he stood opposite me, across the dancefloor, with a cup of punch cradled in his hand. His full, even lips curled upward in a slow progression, as if he just realized that he’d won a prize. I gulped and had a feeling the prize might be me. I dropped my gaze, smoothed down the deep-red, silk fabric of my skirt, and tucked my lips in, trying to avoid a blush, but the heat on my cheeks told me that I failed.

“Well,” Kitty prodded. “His smile is an open invitation, if you ask me.”

I fished for an excuse, so I didn’t have to be brave. “I can’t approach him. That would be improper.”

I disliked doing brazen things and being noticed.

“What is this, the 1860s?” Kitty leaned back and gulped down the rest of the contents of the cup she held in her right hand. “If you don’t, I will.”

She raised one eyebrow in a challenge.

But as it happened, Jacob made his way to me. The band had struck up a slow waltz.

With his dark eyes sparkling, he asked me, “May I have this dance?”

I hesitated. I didn’t even know his name. He must have read my thoughts, for he introduced himself, and I stuttered out a reply, giving him my name.

Then, as if on cue, he held out his hands to me, passing his cup off to waitstaff. I nodded and gulped, forcing my drink on Kitty, who pouted.

Jacob’s arm pressed around me, and his thick hand held mine firmly. As we twirled around the dancefloor, he asked me all manner of questions, which I answered in a near breathless blur.

To have the attention of a richly dressed, handsome man sent my head spinning. With each step, turn, and twirl, I lost a bit of my heart to him. Little did I know that, years later, he would hand it back to me, broken beyond repair.

My heart aches thinking about our past. “Oh, Jacob…”

Here’s the blurb:

The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intrigued…to the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith.” Readers’ Favorite five-star review 

A HISTORICAL NOVEL OF FINDING HEALING AND A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE

In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsons’ farm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face. 

Samuel Woodson, the Nelsons’ hired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuel–seeing past Molly’s scars–draws her out of her self-protective shell. 

Molly and Samuel form a friendship, but just as their hearts lead them deeper, an unexpected guest comes calling, demanding what’s his. 

Will Molly and Samuel find a way to be together or will they be separated, due to impediments beyond their control? Can they trust in God’s plan and travel a path that heals the hurts of the past?  

Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, and Christian historical romance will delight in this beautifully wrought story of the healing power of love. 

A heartwarming story of healing from external and internal scars. Through some of lifes harder lessons the characters learn to trust, forgive, and find second chances out of the ashes of pain and loss.” 

Anne Perreault, author of eighteen inspirational novels, including the Yellowstone series

Trigger Warnings:

Grief, trauma from burns, accidental death, time in an insane asylum

 

Buy Links:

Available on #KindleUnlimited 

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/3JELBX

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Connect with the author

Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.

Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.

All of Jenny’s books have earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.

Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set.

She deems a cup of tea and a good book an essential part of every day. When not writing, Jenny can be found reading, tending to her many houseplants, or piecing quilt blocks at her sewing machine.

Her new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, is set in the area Jenny grew up in, where she currently lives, and places along Minnesota’s Northern Shore, where she loves to visit. She is currently writing a four-part novella series entitled: Botanical Seasons and a three-part fantasy series entitled: Retold Fairy Tales.

Connect with Jenny:

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

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Amazon Author PageGoodreadsBook Trailer

Follow the On Bur Oak Ridge tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
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I’m delighted to be featuring The Du Lac Chronicles by Mary Anne Yarde #histfic #blogtour #histfantasy

Here’s the blurb:

A generation after Arthur Pendragon ruled, Briton lies fragmented into warring kingdoms and principalities.

Eighteen-year-old Alden du Lac ruled the tiny kingdom of Cerniw. Now he half-hangs from a wooden pole, his back lashed into a mass of bloody welts exposed to the cold of a cruel winter night. He’s to be executed come daybreak—should he survive that long.

When Alden notices the shadowy figure approaching, he assumes death has come to end his pain. Instead, the daughter of his enemy, Cerdic of Wessex, frees and hides him, her motives unclear.

Annis has loved Alden since his ill-fated marriage to her Saxon cousin—a marriage that ended in blood and guilt—and she would give anything to protect him. Annis’s rescue of Alden traps them between a brutal Saxon king and Alden’s remaining allies. Meanwhile, unknown forces are carefully manipulating the ruins of Arthur’s legacy.

Trigger warnings:

Torture, Warfare

This novel is available on #KindleUnlimtied

Universal Link

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CA

Meet the author

Mary Anne Yarde is a multi-award winning and bestselling author of Historical Fiction, as well as an award-winning blogger. She studied History at Cardiff University and went on to study Equine Science at Warwickshire College.

Mary Anne is a passionate advocate for quality Historical Fiction and founded The Coffee Pot Book Club in 2015 and became a professional Editorial Reviewer in 2016.

Mary Anne’s award-winning series, The Du Lac Chronicles, is set a generation after the fall of King Arthur. The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Britain and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

Connect with Mary Anne

WebsiteTwitterBookBub

Amazon Author PageGoodreads: 

Follow The Du Lac Chronicles Blog Tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
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This week’s Kindle Countdown deal (99pUK/99cUS) is Northman Part 1

This week’s Kindle countdown deal is Northman Part 1, Book 3 in the Earls of Mercia series, but with a handy ‘the story so far’ at the beginning for those keen to jump right in at this point (If you’ve read the Elfrida books you’ll be at about the same moment ‘in time’ anyway.)

books2read.com/Northman

(also available to read with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription)

Here’s the blurb:

Northman, the eldest son of Ealdorman Leofwine, fostered, at the King’s insistence, by Eadric of Mercia, finds himself caught between loyalty to his father and his foster father.

Fighting for his own sense of self, whilst Viking Raiders vie for the English King’s land, he must choose his own path, and hold true to his own belief’s amongst murky Court politics and bitter pitched battles.

Leofwine, Ealdorman of the Hwicce, must accept his King’s wishes with regards to his eldest son, even though he finds them abhorrent. Simultaneously he must continue to act in the best interests of his king as the English people face their direst threat yet, the raiding of Thorkell the Tall, the king of Denmark’s own Commander, trusted friend and foster-father of his son, Cnut.

And when events become even direr, will father and son act as one, or will they be torn apart by the machinations of the man who plots to undermine every action the king takes, Ealdorman Eadric?

Northman Part 1 is where readers of The First Queen of England, and The King’s Mother trilogies should pick up the story of Saxon England.

I wrote this book quite a few years ago, and I was only reminded yesterday that it’s dedicated to my cousin and his wife on their wedding – so Happy Anniversary to them:)

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I’m excited to be taking part in The Wolf of Kings series by Richard Cullen blog tour #Oathbound #ShieldBreaker #TheWolfOfKings

OATH BOUND:

The champion of a dead king has nothing left to lose… And nothing more to fear.

Hastings, 1066. Styrkar the Dane stumbles wounded and delirious from the corpse-strewn battlefield of Senlac Hill. He has watched his king butchered at the hands of foreign knights, seen his countrymen defeated in battle, and he will not stop until there is a reckoning.

Styrkar embarks on a bloody quest to avenge his dead master, becoming an outlaw in the wilds and earning a fearsome reputation.

When a Breton knight seeks to track down this fugitive and make his own name, he can little envisage the task he has set himself. For Styrkar, the Red Wolf, last surviving housecarl to King Harold Godwinson, will carve the story of his vengeance in Frankish flesh… or die in the attempt.

My Review for Oathbound

Oathbound starts with a vivid and well-sketched scene in the immediate aftermath of the battle of Hastings. From there, we’re taken back in time, to Styrkar’s childhood in Denmark, and told how he came to England – an important detail as Styrkar is a Dane, housecarl to the half-Danish Harold Godwinson, and he should never have come to England’s shores. But it is to Harold Godwinson that Styrkar is oath bound at the battle of Hastings.

The following tale is well told, as we follow Styrkar in the aftermath of the English defeat at the battle of Hastings. It’s not long until he is butting heads with the Franks from Normandy, and making himself both a powerful enemy, and a less than friendly ally.

I’m intrigued by how this story will develop in book 2. Styrkar is a complex character, thrust into a world where nothing is at it was, and he’s not above fighting for what he feels is right, but equally, sometimes he just wants to fight and doesn’t consider the consequences. With the build-up for book 2 an important part of the ending to book 1, it’s very clear that our main character (I’m not sure he’s a hero) is really going to be placed in a compromising position throughout Shield Breaker.

Oath Bound is a fascinating start to a new series exploring England after the Norman Conquest, pitting Norman/Frank against a Danish/Saxon, essentially two men for whom England isn’t their home, and yet who must make their lives there, all the same.


And here’s the blurb for the sequel…..

SHIELD BREAKER:

Styrkar the warrior sails to dangerous lands in this thrilling new historical adventure from Richard Cullen. The sequel to Oath Bound, longlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize 2022.

England, 1068: a land gripped in the iron fist of Frankish invaders. But the Conqueror does not sit easily on his fledgling throne. Rebellion is rife, and the flames of uprising have been ignited in every corner of the kingdom.

Thrown back into this crucible is Styrkar the Dane, former housecarl of the slain King Harold. Forced to travel to Ireland by his deadliest enemy, he must risk the fates of his brothers-in-arms in order to protect the one thing he loves.

So begins a journey that will take Styrkar to the royal court of Dublin, and the frigid climes of the north of England, for loyalty, love and vengeance. He will be tested, beaten and broken, but can any man keep the Red Wolf chained for long?

Meet the Author

Richard Cullen originally hails from Leeds in the heartland of Yorkshire. Oath Bound, his debut historical adventure novel, was longlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize 2022. As well as being a writer of historical adventure, he has also written a number of epic fantasy series as R.S. Ford. If you’d like to learn more about Richard’s books, and read free exclusive content, you can visit his website at follow him on Twitter at, or join him on Instagram.

Pre-order link

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3OmPNtx

Follow Richard Cullen

Twitter: @rich4ord

Instagram: @thewordhog

Website: wordhog.co.uk

Follow Aries

Twitter: @AriesFiction

Facebook: Aries Fiction

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

Don’t forget to check out the review blog tour for Oathbound and Shieldbreaker with all of the fabulous hosts.
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I’m delighted to welcome fellow historical fiction author, Paul Bennett, to the blog with his American Revolution series The Mallory Saga

I’m delighted to welcome fellow historical fiction author (and avid reader and reviewer) Paul Bennett to the blog, to spotlight his series about The American Revolution.

Here’s the blurb for the series:

Follow the Mallory family as they attempt to live a peaceful life on the PA frontier in 1756. They face tragedy and loss as they become embroiled in The French and Indian War – Clash of Empires. In Paths to Freedom, the colonies are heading to open revolt against King George III, and the Mallory’s are once again facing the spectre of war. Crucible of Rebellion continues the Mallory story through the early years of The Revolutionary War. Book 4, A Nation is Born completes the Revolution and The Mallory’s have played their part in the victory. In book 5, A Turbulent Beginning, the nascent nation finds it hard going to establish a peaceful existence. The Natives of this land resist the westward expansion of white settlers.

Trigger Warnings:

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

Here’s the blurb for Book 5 – A Turbulent Beginning

The Revolution is over, and a new nation has emerged from the ashes of war. The new government, leery of a powerful central government, learns quite quickly the folly of state legislatures controlling military operations, abandoning The Articles of Confederation to write The Constitution.


More lessons are learned by this second attempt when they discover that the indigenous tribes along the Ohio were more than a match for militia troops. It is time for President Washington and his War Secretary Henry Knox to come up with a better plan to pacify the warring tribes.


The Mallory clan is spread out from the Congaree River in South Carolina to the Wabash River in the Northwest Territory. The desire to be together again is stronger than the fear of traveling through a war zone. They are once again in the middle of the storm…Can they survive?…Can they make a difference?

Buy Links:

This series is available to read for free with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Series in order:

Clash of Empires

Paths to Freedom

Crucible of Rebellion

A Nation Is Born

A Turbulent Beginning

Clash of Empires – Universal Link

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MXR186R

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXR186R

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01MXR186R

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01MXR186R

Meet the author

Paul was born in Detroit when the Big Three ruled the automobile industry, and The Korean Conflict was in full swing. A lifelong interest in history and a love of reading eventually led him to Wayne State University where he majored in Ancient History, with a minor in Physical Anthropology. However, to make ends meet, those studies were left to the realm of dreams, and Paul found himself accidentally embarking on a 50 year career in computers. A career that he has recently retired from in order to spend more time with those dreams….7 grandchildren will help fill the time as well. 

He now resides in the quaint New England town of Salem, Massachusetts with his wife Daryl, just a few minutes’ walk from the North River, and the site where the Revolution almost began.

The Mallory Saga is the culmination of Paul’s love of history, and his creative drive to write stories. With Nightwish and Bruce Cockburn coming through his headphones, and many cups of excellent coffee, Paul hopes to carry the Saga into the late 19th century, bringing American History to life through the eyes and actions of the Mallory family.

Connect with Paul

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A Summer of Castles by Rachel Walkley #blogtour which is released today (I think I recognise the castle in the cover too!)

Here’s the blurb:

A Summer of Castles. A secret in ruins.

At the beginning of the sultry 2003 English summer, Robyn Yates quits her job to photograph fifteen castles for a man she’s never met. A man who won’t tell her his real name. 

What motivates her is an unusual ability she can’t explain nor understand. Somebody does though and is keen to exploit her secret.

But Robyn isn’t alone on her journey. An artist is painting pictures of the same castles. Wherever she goes, so does he, like a stalker. But is he dangerous? And could this man be the same person who wants her photographs? 

She decides to challenge him, never anticipating that the confrontation will change the path of both of their lives.

The stifling summer will eventually end, but will Robyn find out the truth in time?

Purchase Links 

UK US

Meet the author

Aspiring writer who pens Women’s Fiction and magical tales about family secrets.

What else?

An East Anglian turned Northerner – almost.

Information professional, always.

Biologist, in my memories.

Archivist, when required.

Amateur pianist and flautist.

Reluctant gardener.

Scribbler of pictures.

And forever…. a mother and wife.

Oh, not forgetting, cat lover!

Connect with Rachel Walkley

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Instagram / Twitter handle – @racheljwalkley

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for Happiness is a Thing With Wings by Susi Osborne #blogtour #RachelsRandomResources

Here’s the blurb:

Joanna is approaching the end of her forties and the empty nest syndrome looms. She consoles herself with gin and chocolate, realising that apart from her son Jack, she has achieved absolutely nothing in her life.

Somewhat on the plus side of plump and barely five feet tall, she finds it difficult not to envy her younger, prettier sister. Such elevated elegance seems so unfair – as does Hannah’s successful marriage. Joanna, in contrast, has remained in a loveless marriage for the past thirty years, stuck in a rut with the most miserable man on the planet but not having the impetus to get out.

It takes an embarrassing but hilarious encounter in the supermarket to make her realise what she’s been missing. It’s exactly the push she needs to make her change her life. With a little encouragement, Joanna starts to regain her independence, finally leaving her grumpy husband to enjoy life as a single woman. As she attempts to rebuild her own future, her family and friends continually surprise her with their own revelations.

Life is never dull, laughter never far away; can Joanna finally find true happiness within herself at last?

Pre-order Link – https://amzn.eu/d/ftHPlMW

Publication Date – 28th August 

Meet the Author

For many years Susi Osborne worked in libraries, and later as a classroom assistant in a junior school. She currently runs a business selling all things vintage in an antiques centre. She also runs Northwich LitFest which she started ten years ago. Susi lives in Cheshire with her husband, her family and two dogs. Happiness is a Thing With Wings is her fifth novel. Her previous books are – 

The Ripples of Life

Grace & Disgrace

Secrets, Lies & Butterflies

Angelica Stone

Connect with Sushi Osborne

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This week’s Amazon Kindle (US/UK) special offer is Swein: The Danish King – a side story to the Earls of Mercia Series

Before his encounter with Ealdorman Leofwine on his fateful trip to Shetland, King Swein first had to wrestle Denmark from an overmighty father and make his own name as a warrior of great renown.

This side story to the Earls of Mercia series tells of the early years of King Swein’s reign, his first raid on England, his unfortunate encounter with Ealdorman Leofwine and his desire to once and for all kill Olaf of Norway, culminating in the mighty sea battle of Svolder in 999.

I hope you enjoy – this can be read as a standalone if you’ve not yet read the rest of the books in the series as the main character is one of the minor characters in the series.

Swein is also available to read with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription.

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It’s 20th Century Mystery Week – Cragside is on blog tour and The Automobile Assassination is this week’s Kindle Countdown Deal

I have decreed that this week is 20th century mystery week:)

And so, while Cragside, my 1930s murder mystery, is on blog tour with the fabulous hosts of The Coffee Pot Book Club, The Automobile Assassination is this week’s Kindle Countdown Deal in the UK and US, where it will be just 99p/99c for the week.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Australia, then The Custard Corpses is currently included in Prime Reading as well. And, The Custard Corpses and The Automobile Assassination are both included with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription. And, if that’s not enough, all of the books are also available in audio, as well as ebook, paperback and hardback. Cragside is available widely, so if you’re not a reader on Kindle, then you can find it on all good ebook sites.

I’m really hoping I might be able to encourage a few of my Saxon fiction readers to try out the 20th century mysteries! Never straying far from my first love, Erdington, would once have been part of Mercia, whereas Cragside, in Northumberland, would have been in Northumbria!

I will be sharing links to the blog tour, and hope you’ll enjoy the collection of extracts from Cragside being shared by the blog hosts. I’ve also, hopefully, reduced the ebook version of Cragside in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and as many other territories as I could. Just shout if it’s not working for you and I’ll attempt to fix any problems:)

The Coffee Pot Book Club

When Angels Fly

Historical Fiction Reviews

Linnea Tanner’s Official Blog

The Historical Fiction Blog

Pam Lecky’s Offical Blog

Zoe’s Art, Craft and Life

Catherine Meryrick’s Official Blog

A Darn Good Read

Ruins and Reading

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

Celtic Lady’s Reviews

Let Us Talk of Many Things

Paul Walker’s Official Blog

Anna Belfrage – Stolen Moments

Great Books Great Deals

Deborah Swift’s Offical Blog

B is for Book Review

Elizabeth St John’s Official Blog

Let Your Words Shine….

A huge thank you to Mary Anne Yarde and all the hosts for featuring Cragside: A 1930s murder mystery:)

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Today, I’m incredibly excited to share a guest post by Kate Shanahan about her time-slip historical fantasy book, Tangled Spirits, set in medieval Japan (It’s a fabulous book that I highly recommend).

Hi, I’m Kate Shanahan, author of Tangled Spirits, a time-slip historical fantasy set in medieval Japan before shogun, samurai, and sushi were a thing. I’m blogging today about the cultural environment in 10th-11th centuries Japan that fostered the highest level of female literacy in the world at this time (among the aristocratic elite, that is.)

The world’s first full-length novel is usually considered to be Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikubu, a lady-in-waiting at the imperial court of Japan at the beginning of the 11th century. She wrote this long, complex novel in an era when nearly all women everywhere in the world (and most men too) could neither read nor write. And not only did she write it, but enough people enjoyed reading it to ensure it was copied, shared, sold, borrowed, studied, illustrated, filmed, and gamified over the next 1000+ years.

I read Tale of Genji when I taught English in Japan. That same year, I read The Pillow Book, a journal written by lady-in-waiting Sei Shonagon, a contemporary of Murasaki’s. Sei invented a new form of journal called zuihitsu or ‘miscellany.’ In today’s terms, it’s more like the world’s first blog. 

Both Sei and Murasaki were ladies-in-waiting in the court of Emperor Ichijo, and they both could read and write Chinese as well as Japanese, rare skills for women even in their erudite sphere. How is it that these two women in medieval Japan both managed to create new forms of literature that are still studied today?

In the course of my research, I learned that women held many positions of high rank and even power in Japan’s early history. In fact, eight of Japan’s emperors have been women, six of them before the year 770. The Heian Period (794 to 1185) is known as the ‘golden age of Japan’ for its flowering of the arts and literature, and much of this flowering came from girl-power. 

(Before I go further, let me be clear that I’m only referring to the tiny elite at the top of the food chain who led a life of luxury and leisure far, far removed from the hardships of the unranked.)

I’ve noticed that Westerners are often surprised at some of the rights and privileges women enjoyed in this era in Japan. In the Heian Period, married noblewomen often continued to live with their parents after marriage, with the husband stopping by from time to time to see her. The wife’s father or uncles influenced the education and development of her children. This is called a ‘uxorial’ form of marriage, and it not only gave a woman more control and influence over raising her children, it also meant that if she weren’t happy with her husband’s behavior, she could send him away without seeing him. Women also could initiate a divorce and remarry. Men often had several wives and consorts, and women just one (at a time), but love affairs were not frowned upon as long as discreetly managed. 

The most important element of the environment that eventually produced Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book was the Fujiwara Regency. The emperor’s role was a sacred one with a focus on the rituals and prayers needed to keep divinities happy, so the regent’s role was a political, secular one. There were 21 regents from the Fujiwara clan between 804 and 1238, and the most famous was Michinaga, who was regent during both Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu’s tenure at court. In the course of my research for Tangled Spirits, I learned this proverb: “if one must have a child, let it be a girl.”  Fujiwara clan members gained power and access to the emperor by marrying their daughters to him. Those daughters produced children who often became Crown Prince and Emperor, and because of the uxorial tradition, Fujiwara regents kept their power by their influence over their imperial grandchildren. And that made daughters more valuable to a Fujiwara regent (or regent wanna-be) than a son. 

And literacy comes into play because it was important for these Fujiwara daughters to be able to entice the emperor with their beautiful calligraphy, their skill with writing poetry, and with reading out loud to him. Beauty and elegance were of utmost importance at court in this era, and calligraphy could make or break a love affair. Thus a high priority was placed on the education of potential imperial consorts.

And then once a Fujiwara daughter was at court, whether as a concubine, an official consort, or a Royal Consort (Empress), it was important for that consort to have women around her with skills in calligraphy, poetry, witty repartee, and story-telling, both to make the salon attractive to the Emperor and to entertain the consort. Women in this elite class lived lives of comparative leisure, and they stayed indoors most of the time. Reading, writing, and story-telling flourished as entertainment. 

And that created a sort of domino effect. Parents might not be of a high-enough rank for their daughters to be selected for the Emperor, but they educated their daughters to make them attractive to the consort’s salon, and that is how both Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu came to court.

It’s clear from the diaries of Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu that they both could read Chinese writing as well as the native ‘onnade’ and that such learning was considered masculine. Murasaki wrote that Sei was a show-off for not hiding her knowledge of Chinese, while Sei wrote that male courtiers sent poems in Chinese as a sort of prank, hoping to force her to reveal her knowledge (but she was too clever for that.) However, recent research indicates that a nobleman might teach his daughter to read and write Chinese as well as Japanese to improve her chance to obtain a position as an official in the Imperial Handmaid’s Office. Murasaki Shikibu writes in her diary that she learned Chinese by eavesdropping on her brother’s lessons, but it’s possible that both Murasaki and Sei Shonagon were taught Chinese reading and writing for that reason, as neither family was in the top ranks of nobility. Some high-ranking men even sought to marry women who could read Chinese as a skill that could help their own careers in government bureaucracy.

If you’d like to read more blog posts about Heian Japan or find out more about Tangled Spirits, you can find mine at kvshanahan.com

If you’d like to read more about literacy in this era, here’s an interesting article that I found in jstor.org.

Heldt, G. (2005). Writing like a Man: Poetic Literacy, Textual Property, and Gender in the “Tosa Diary.” The Journal of Asian Studies64(1), 7–34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25075675

Here’s the blurb for Tangled Spirits.

Journey to the imperial court of Japan as Kate Shanahan skillfully blends fictional and historical figures and events into a time-slip tale of intrigue, personal sacrifice, and a friendship that spans a thousand years. 

Two spirits. One body. It’s harder than it looks.

2019: Anxious and insecure, Mina Cooper wants to change her life, to change herself, but she gets more change than she bargains for when her spirit is pulled into the past and into someone else’ body – in 10th century Japan. And now she has a lot more to be anxious about. Like exorcism. And bandits. And chaotic magic by an inexperienced shaman. 

999: Desperately lonely after her mother and sister die in an epidemic, aspiring shaman Lady Masako attempts to call her mother back from the spirit world, but gets possessed by Mina instead.

After a struggle for control and a failed exorcism, the two spirits agree to cooperate long enough to get help from the Royal Astrologer, the only person powerful enough to send Mina home.

But his help comes at a cost, and Mina’s imperfect knowledge of history offers little to negotiate with. And the longer he waits to help her, the greater the risk her spirit will fuse with Masako’s, and she’ll never get home.

Meet the author

Kate grew up in Massachusetts, but spent 4th, 8th, and 11th grades living in England, and speaks both languages (British and American) fluently. After graduating from University of Michigan with a BA in Political Science (East Asia Concentration), Kate taught English in Sapporo, Japan for two years. She enjoyed the experience so much that she returned to U of M for an MA in Asian Studies (Japan Specialization), and while there, worked part-time for the Center for Japanese Studies. Fortunately for Kate, Honda was expanding operations in Ohio around the time she finished, and she spent an entire career at Honda in project, business, and people management, thrilled to be able to travel to Japan and speak Japanese for work. Then she retired to work on that book about Sei Shonagon that she always had in the back of her mind to write, and that book evolved into Tangled Spirits.
 
After all those years in northern latitudes, Kate and her husband recently moved to Florida’s Gulf Coast where the sunshine makes it difficult to focus on writing. But she’s determined to do it anyway. After a bike ride.

Kate Shanahan Website

Tangled Spirits on Amazon

Kate Shanahan Instagram

Tangled Spirits is on special offer until 19th July 2022, for 99p/99c on Amazon UK/US and is also included in a Kindle Unlimited Subscription

Good luck with the new book, Kate. Thank you so much for such an interesting post about Japan. I can see why you were drawn to the period.

Here’s my review

I was lucky enough to read an early version of Tangled Spirits, and I flew through it in two days. It’s a fantastic and really intriguing story.

I liked the whole story – the idea of a 21st-century woman’s mind in a 10th-century woman’s body, seeing everything through new eyes, putting both current interpretations on etiquette and prevailing thoughts, as well as the 10th-century justification for it all. It was just tongue in cheek, and court politics enough, to ensure the reader always wants to know what’s going to happen.

Masako and Mina are both intriguing characters. As the story is told through Mina we know more about her thoughts and more about Masako’s actions. I could understand both of their viewpoints well enough, even if like Masako, I found it a bit frustrating that Mina wouldn’t share more of her knowledge of the future. I enjoyed that as time went on, they acted more and more like one another.

A really enjoyable read and one I highly recommend.

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Today, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome back Amy Maroney to the blog to showcase her new audio books, starting with The Girl from Oto narrated by Meg Price #blogtour #audio

Here’s the blurb:

A Renaissance-era woman artist and an American scholar. Linked by a 500-year-old mystery…

The secrets of the past are irresistible—and treacherous.

1500: Born during a time wracked by war and plague, Renaissance-era artist Mira grows up in a Pyrenees convent believing she is an orphan. When tragedy strikes, Mira learns the devastating truth about her own origins. But does she have the strength to face those who would destroy her?

2015: Centuries later, art scholar Zari unearths traces of a mysterious young woman named Mira in two 16th-century portraits. Obsessed, Zari tracks Mira through the great cities of Europe to the pilgrim’s route of Camino de Santiago—and is stunned by what she finds. Will her discovery be enough to bring Mira’s story to life?

A powerful story and an intriguing mystery, The Girl from Oto is an unforgettable novel of obsession, passion, and human resilience.

Buy Links:

This book is available on #KindleUnlimited.

Series links:

The Girl from Oto

Mira’s Way

A Place in the World

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Audio

Meet the author

Amy Maroney lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of the Miramonde Series, a trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Amy’s new series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, features ordinary people seeking their fortunes under the rule of the medieval Knights Hospitaller in Rhodes, Greece. To receive a free prequel novella to the Miramonde Series, join Amy Maroney’s readers’ group at www.amymaroney.com.

Connect with Amy

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Today, I’m delighted to welcome a returning Siobhan Daiko to the blog with her new book, The Girl from Bologna #blogtour

I’ve tasked Siobhan Saiko with a post about the inspiration for writing her new book, The Girl from Bologna. Welcome to the blog.

Thank you for inviting me to write a guest post for your blog about what gave me the inspiration to write “The Girl from Bologna”. It’s a standalone story and part of my “Girls from the Italian Resistance” series. The liberation of Bologna is mentioned, but not fully explored in the two other books, “The Girl from Venice” and “The Girl from Portofino”. It seemed opportune to conclude the series there.

When I visited the city recently with my husband and viewed the monument to the partisans in Piazza del Nettuno, I found the photos of the young men and women who had given their lives for the freedom of the city to be deeply moving. The memorial truly is the inspiration behind the novel. I could only photograph a small section of the ceramic images placed behind glass (there are over two thousand) but seeing the faces of those who’d died brought home to me the tragic loss of life.

Image of Monument to the partisans photo taken by Siobhan Daiko

Section of the monument to the partisans in Piazza del Nettuno, Bologna, showing the number of partisans to be 14,425 of whom 2,212 were women. 2059 fallen. 945 wounded. 6543 arrested. 2350 shot in reprisals. 829 died in Nazi camps. 22 gold bravery medals. 40 silver bravery medals.

I began to research events and discovered that the German occupation of Bologna began the day after the Italian prime minister announced that Italy had switched sides in the war. Enemy tanks rolled into the city. Nazi officials hung a swastika flag from the façade of the Hotel Baglioni—the best in Bologna—and commandeered part of the first floor and a large lounge to the right of the lobby, which they converted into their administrative headquarters. Not one Italian authority turned up for a formal handover. With total political chaos there weren’t any Italian authorities at hand.

Over the next several days, the Wehrmacht put their military occupation into action. Repression and intimidation began immediately with the confiscation of vehicles, limits to bicycle transport, a curfew from 11 pm to 4 am, and restrictions on gatherings of more than three people. Worst of all, the Nazis set up transit camps for deportations and slave labour, interning deserters from the Italian army—those they hadn’t already loaded onto cattle trucks and transported to Germany for their nefarious needs. 

For the first week or so of the Nazi occupation, Bolognese fascists kept themselves out of political life. But when Hitler made Mussolini the puppet ruler of La Repubblica Sociale Italiana, i fascisti bolognesi became ardent members of the Duce’s reformed anti-monarchist Republican Fascist Party. The repubblichini, as antifascists scathingly called them, started working hand in glove with the Germans. 

Consequently, the city became a hotbed of urban guerrilla warfare. The more I researched, the more immersed I became in the events. What happened to the partisans, fighting both against the Nazi occupation and against the fascists in Bologna, was truly harrowing. They grouped in the city when it appeared that the Allies were on the cusp of breaking through German lines in the autumn of 1944 and were caught like sitting ducks when the Anglo-Americans halted their advance. Making my characters go through the terrible repercussions brought tears to my eyes. The actions perpetrated by the fascists against the partisans were so violent, they even sickened the German command. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, war returned to Europe while I was writing the story, rendering my writing particularly poignant.

Partisans in Bologna after liberation Wikimedia Commons

“The Girl from Bologna” is set during two historical time periods, however. Alongside the monument to the partisans in Piazza del Nettuno there is another monument, listing the names and ages of those killed by a terrorist bomb planted in the railway station on 2nd August 1980. The fact that Bologna had chosen, some years later, to honour the victims in the same location where so many partisans had given their lives, led me to construct the 1981 narrative around that heinous event.

Neptune’s Fountain Bologna. The memorial to the partisans is on the wall of the building to the left.

Thank you so much for sharing such fascinating insight into your inspiration. What an amazing decision, to commemorate two such atrocities.

Good luck with the new book.

Here’s the blurb:

Bologna, Italy, 1944, and the streets are crawling with German soldiers. Nineteen-year-old Leila Venturi is shocked into joining the Resistance after her beloved best friend Rebecca, the daughter of a prominent Jewish businessman, is ruthlessly deported to a concentration camp.

In February 1981, exchange student Rhiannon Hughes arrives in Bologna to study at the university. There, she rents a room from Leila, who is now middle-aged and infirm. Leila’s nephew, Gianluca, offers to show Rhiannon around but Leila warns her off him.

Soon Rhiannon finds herself being drawn into a web of intrigue. What is Gianluca’s interest in a far-right group? And how is the nefarious head of this group connected to Leila? As dark secrets emerge from the past, Rhiannon is faced with a terrible choice. Will she take her courage into both hands and risk everything?

An evocative, compelling read, “The Girl from Bologna” is a story of love lost, daring exploits, and heart wrenching redemption.

Trigger Warnings: 

War crimes against women

Buy Links:

Available on #KindleUnlimited

Universal Link: viewbook.at/TGFB

Amazon UK: Amazon US: Amazon CA: Amazon AU:

Meet the author

Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK, Siobhan now spends her time indulging her love of writing and enjoying her life near Venice.

Connect with Siobhan

WebsiteTwitter:  Facebook

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Today, I’m delighted to welcome Penny Ingham to the blog with a fab post about her new book, a giveaway and my review #blogtour #histfic #highlyrecommended

I’m delighted to share with you an excerpt and my review for Penny Ingham’s new novel, Twelve Nights, set in the theatres of late Tudor London. Please read all the way to the end because there’s a lot going on in this blog post:)

Here’s the blurb:

The Theatre

London, 1592

When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/  

US  – https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/

Excerpt and author post

Thank you so much to MJ at mjporterauthor.blog for letting me share my latest novel.

Twelve Nights is set in 1592, at the imaginatively named The Theatre in Shoreditch, London. The players are the celebrities of their day, but one by one they begin to die in mysterious circumstances. Suspicion instantly falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. 

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. With just two weeks until the inquest, she ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

Here’s an excerpt from the book. To set the scene: The player John Wood has died a horrible death on stage during the first act of Twelve Nights. The constable, Edmund Stow, has told Magdalen he is convinced she is responsible for his murder, and is determined to prove her guilt.  In shock, Magdalen and the players decamp to their favourite tavern to raise a cup to John’s memory.  


The shadows lengthened. The landlord lit the fire, the serving girls laid out soggy saffron cakes, and the players’ spirits began to lift, warmed by the crackling fire, and by wine and cakes and ale. And with every cup of Rhenish she drank, Magdalen’s spirits lifted a little too. The tavern was starting to fill up. Word spread fast through Shoreditch, and now all the poets and playwrights who had ever felt envious of Burbage’s lauded band of brothers were crawling out of the woodwork to gloat over their misfortune. Robert Greene was first to arrive, his distinctive quiff of long, red hair waxed upright like a cockerel’s comb. He made straight for their table, and addressed Burbage.

‘I see you’re still paying that country-bumpkin to write speeches stuffed with far-fetched metaphors.’ Turning to Will Shakespeare, he announced mockingly, ‘If it isn’t the upstart crow, beautified by my feathers.’

Magdalen winced. Will had borrowed the plot of Greene’s Pandosto for The Winter’s Tale. In truth, the playwrights and poets all stole from each other, but Will took their ideas and made them a thousand times better, filling the Theatre and its coffers day after day, whilst Greene lived in back-street poverty. 

‘The pot is calling the kettle black, or Greene, in your case,’ Will replied lightly, but Magdalen could see tension in his eyes. 

Greene spat something brown and glistening onto the floor. Magdalen hoped it was tobacco. Sitting down on the bench beside her, he attempted to manhandle her onto his knee. ‘Weep not, darling, smile upon my knee, when thou art old, there’s grief enough for thee,’ he crooned.

Magdalen recognised the song. It was Greene’s own. Extricating herself from his arms, she shoved him hard. He fell off the bench and landed on his back, legs in the air like a deceased fly. Everyone cheered loudly and raised their glasses. Greene mumbled something. It sounded like ‘misshapen dick’.

Christopher Marlowe arrived next, and the tavern lit up as if the stars had fallen through the thatch. He greeted them all in turn, embracing some, kissing others on the lips. But he offered no kiss to Will. Instead, they simply shook hands like two fencers before a bout. It seemed fitting, for they were presently engaged in an increasingly spectacular play-writing dual, lobbing masterpieces at each other across the Thames. When Marlowe attacked with the gore-fest Tamburlaine, Will struck back with blood-soaked Titus Andronicus. Marlowe lunged with his study of a weak king, Edward the Second, so Will parried with Richard the Second. All of London was waiting to see how Will would respond to Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta.

‘William.’ Marlowe released Will’s hand, and moved on.

‘Christopher,’ Will replied and turned back to his beer.

Magdalen found their relationship hard to fathom, but hidden beneath the jealousy and rivalry, she often suspected a lurking mutual respect. 

Stepping over Robert Greene, who had fallen asleep on the floor, Marlowe sat down beside her. ‘How now, Magdalen?’

She nodded absently. She had drunk a great deal of Rhenish, but she would never admit her inebriation, not even to Marlowe because it was not seemly. But he must have noticed her glazed expression because that familiar, half-smile was playing on his lips, as if he was enjoying his own private joke at the world’s expense. Although he was fast approaching thirty years of age, there was still a boyish charm to his features; the soft doe-eyes, the beard-less cheeks, the wisps of a moustache above full, generous lips.

‘I think you’ve had enough of this.’ He picked up her cup of Rhenish, and proceeded to drain it.

‘Hey!’ she exclaimed but it was a half-hearted protest, for her head was pounding like cannon fire.

‘You will have heard about the constable?’ she said quietly. 

‘Edmund Stow is highly fed and lowly taught. Pay no heed to him,’ Marlowe replied airily.

‘But what if the Puritans bribe the coroner to convict me? We all know they are looking for an excuse to close us down.’ 

He shook his head. ‘I won’t let that happen.’ 

She wished she could believe him, but Marlowe was the most unreliable man on earth.


My Review

Wow! I love it when this happens. I was really keen to feature this book on my blog, but as I’ve severely over-committed myself of late, I wasn’t sure I’d have time to read the book first. But, I did, and just wow.

Sometimes a book is just an absolute delight to read, and this is one of those. Penny Ingham has written both a delightful murder mystery, but also an immersive story set in Tudor London. The smells, the sights, the political unrest, the politics, the religion, problems with the Scots, the theatre, Shakespeare, Marlowe and the underbelly of Tudor London. It is, somehow, all crammed into this novel, and none of it feels forced on the reader. This is total immersion into the London of late Tudor England, and given how I’ve grown weary of all the ‘Tudor’ stuff, this just reassures me that authors are still out there, conjuring up something new and fresh to delight the reader.

I can’t deny that my love of the BBC comedy, Upstart Crow, definitely played into the joy of reading the novel – a strong female lead being one of the most appealing features – but this isn’t a comedy, this is serious business, and it is such a well-told story with a motley cast of all levels of society, from the servants to the Tudor nobility, featuring all any of us could ever want to know about what it was truly like to live at such a time.

And the story doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of the day, and our main character is sorely tested time and time again. I really don’t want to give any spoilers, but this novel nicely ties with all the bits of Tudor England that draws readers to it, the scandal and the dark underbelly, the glitz and glamour and the high echelon of society.

Twelve Nights is a veritable tour de force; a wonderful tale, deeply grounded in Tudor London, and quite frankly, absolutely brilliant!

Meet the author

I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology. 

I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’. 

I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London, and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. 

I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get better! 

Connect with Penny

Facebook:  Penny Ingham Author Page | Facebook

Instagram: Penny Ingham (@penny.ingham) 

Twitter: Penny Ingham (@pennyingham) / Twitter

Website: Penny Ingham (wordpress.com)

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

*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.

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I’ve been asking fellow historical fiction author, Christopher M Cevasco, some questions about his love of Saxon England following the release of his new book, Beheld: Godiva’s Story

Today, I’ve been asking fellow historical fiction author, Christopher M Cervasco, some questions about his love of Saxon England

Can you explain, if possible, why you’re so fascinated by the tenth and eleventh centuries in Saxon England?

It’s a period of tumultuous change filled with a wide cast of colorful characters, beginning with the children of Alfred the Great seeking to push forward the process of English unification and lasting through the Norman Conquest. Along the way, there’s a long stretch of conquering Danish rule in England under King Cnut’s line. We also see major monastic reforms during this period that radically changed the way religious houses operated in England. And throughout these two centuries, we witness such watermark moments as the murder of King Edward the Martyr (one of history’s great unsolved mysteries), the Battle of Maldon (immortalized in the Old English poem), the St Brice’s Day massacre, frequent Viking raids, and then of course the fascinating series of events that took place in 1066, arising from the succession crisis after Edward the Confessor’s death and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. 

Weaving in and out of these events or in some cases existing on their periphery are such memorable individuals as Ealdorman Byrhtnoth (who fell at Maldon), the historical Macbeth, Svein Forkbeard, the Norman William the Conqueror, the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada (whose adventurous life spanned all the way to Constantinople), Harold Godwineson and his brother Tostig (the tragedy of their falling out is epic in its proportions), and the English resistance fighter Hereward the Wake, just to name a handful. Notably, these centuries also give us such fascinating and powerful women as Alfred’s daughter Æthelflæd (Lady of the Mercians), Ælfthryth (mother of Æthelred the Unready and the first wife of an English king known to have been anointed as queen), Emma of Normandy (queen to both King Æthelred and King Cnut), Godwin’s formidable wife Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, and of course Lady Godiva herself! 

To me it’s always seemed that no matter where I look in 10th- and 11th-century England, I uncover some fascinating tidbit, memorable figure, or an event that demands my attention and makes me want to dig deeper and find out more. I suppose to some extent this is true of any period, but these two centuries in England just feel particularly ripe.

Could you explain to me what came first, the desire to tell Lady Godiva’s story, or wanting to use the resource of Earl Leofric’s visions? Or was it just happy coincidence?

Godiva and her story definitely came first.  The legendary tale of her naked ride is of course sensational and lurid, but beyond that, Godiva was one of the most powerful and influential women to have lived during that period. She was married to Leofric, a powerful earl of Mercia during both the Danish occupation of England under King Cnut’s line and during the subsequent return of the royal English bloodline under King Edward the Confessor. Her own life spanned the periods before, during, and after the Danish conquest and she was alive to witness the Norman Conquest. 

The more I delved into this period, the more it became clear to me that Godiva and her husband were very key figures behind the scenes of all of these events. And yet, while we do know a good many details about Godiva’s public life, very little survives in the historical record to tell us about her personal life. I wanted to remedy that by filling in the blanks and connecting the dots. It was while doing that, and in particular while researching Godiva’s husband, that I came across the Old English manuscript known as Visio Leofrici (“The Visions of Leofric”), which dates from the 11th Century and recounts a series of holy visions supposedly experienced by Earl Leofric. As a novelist, that source just called out to me, and I made sure to find a way to incorporate much of its substance into my story. In some ways it was my attempt to come to terms with what was really going on in that primary source that led to the fraught and somewhat tragic character arc I ended up developing for Leofric as I told the story of Godiva.

I notice during the book, hopefully no spoilers, that you also choose to have King Edward as a very uneasy ally of the Godwin family. I too have opted for that explanation in my books, but do you believe it’s historically likely, or is it just wishful thinking on our part?

It always seemed to me that Edward’s relationship with Earl Godwin’s family must have been uneasy and complicated. Yes, he married Godwin’s daughter and made her his queen, and yes the English nobles endorsed Godwin’s son Harold as Edward’s named successor after Edward’s death, but neither of these two facts was particularly straightforward. There was a period when Edward briefly more or less imprisoned his wife in a nunnery coincident with a time when he actually exiled Godwin and the rest of Godwin’s family from the kingdom on charges of treason. And it seems hard to believe that Edward would ever have forgotten the fact that decades earlier, Godwin had helped to blind and murder Edward’s younger brother Alfred. 

As for Harold, while I do personally believe Edward wished at the end for Harold to succeed him, his naming of Harold was anything but straightforward, with Harold having to engage in all sorts of political maneuvering (including an arranged marriage to Lady Godiva’s granddaughter) in order to secure the support of the English nobles. And of course William maintained (with the backing of the papacy) that Edward had in fact promised the English throne to him—not to Harold—and that Harold was merely an oath-breaker and usurper. None of these complications would have arisen, I feel, if Edward’s relationship with the Godwin clan had been purely amicable. So yes, I too ran with the idea that they were only ever uneasy allies.

Do you plan on writing more books in Saxon England?

I’m currently working on a round of final revisions to a war-time resistance thriller set among the English rebels who opposed Norman rule using guerrilla tactics and sabotage in the years immediately following the Battle of Hastings in 1066. After that, I’ll be turning my attention to a new book in which I’ll seek to unravel the mystery surrounding the 978 murder of Edward the Martyr.

I’m looking forward to the murder mystery! Thank you so much for sharing your love of Saxon England. It’s good to know I’m not the only one:)

Here’s all the details for Beheld: Godiva’s Story

A darkly twisted psychological thriller exploring the legend of Lady Godiva’s naked ride.

Having survived a grave illness to become one of 11th-century England’s wealthiest landowners, Godgyfu of Coventry (Lady Godiva) remains forever grateful to the town whose patron saint worked such miracles. She vows to rebuild Coventry’s abbey and better the lives of its townsfolk. But the wider kingdom is descending into political turmoil, and her husband, Earl Leofric, starts to break under the strain. Godgyfu finds her own plans unravelling the moment she meets Thomas, a Benedictine novice with perverse secret desires. Three lives become dangerously entangled in a shocking web of ambition, voyeuristic lust, and horrid obsession. Can Godgyfu escape the monk’s menacing wiles and Leofric’s betrayals to secure her future in a changing kingdom? Perhaps, but first she faces a dark test of wills leading her perilously closer to a legendary ride…

Trigger Warnings:

Sexual situations, psychological abuse, violence, brief references to suicide.

Universal Amazon Link

Barnes and Noble

Lethe Press

Check out my review for Beheld, and the blog tour for Beheld.

Christopher M Cevasco

Christopher M. Cevasco was born in New Jersey and spent a memorable decade in Brooklyn, New York, but he feels most at home in medieval England, Normandy, Norway, and Greenland. A lifelong passion for history and fiction led him to earn degrees in Medieval Studies and English and later to embark upon a writing career that merges these two loves. 

Chris was the founding editor of the award-winning Paradox: The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction from 2003 to 2009. His own short stories appear in such venues as Black Static, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Distant Echoes(Corazon Books, UK), and the Prime Books anthologies Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War and Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages

A long-time member of the Historical Novel Society, Chris currently serves on the society’s North American conference board as registration chair for the upcoming 2023 conference in San Antonio, Texas. 

Chris lives with his wife and their two children in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Today, I’m delighted to feature a post from Rachel R. Heil about the inspiration for her new book, Leningrad:The People’s War #blogtour

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Rachel R. Heil to the blog.

Your book, Leningrad, sounds fascinating. Can you share with me the first idea that made you decide to write this story? It might be very different from how the story ended up being, but I am curious if you don’t mind sharing. And, if the story is very different, would you mind sharing the process by which you ended up with your current novel?

The idea for Leningrad: The People’s War came about several years ago after I read another novel that partially takes place during the Siege of Leningrad. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons is one of my favorite books, and the first half of the story takes place during the Siege of Leningrad. While I loved the book, I recall being disappointed that the story switched locations halfway through because I wanted to see what happened to Leningrad and her people following the first winter under siege.

The Siege of Leningrad lasted 872 days, but as I read a few more books set during the blockade I found that most stories ended during the winter of 1941-42, despite the siege lasting to January 1944. While this was mainly because many citizens were evacuated during that winter due to authorities using the frozen Lake Lagoda to help create a passage out of Leningrad, there were still plenty of people left in Leningrad after the winter had ended. Another reason a lot of books only covered the siege through 1942 was that after the war, the Soviet authorities stopped anyone from speaking about the siege with threats of prison sentences. Despite the limited resources and information available I wanted to write a story that followed the whole ordeal from start to finish, and that’s where the first ideas for Leningrad came about. 

IMAGE CREDIT IS FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS. PLEASE CAPITON PHOTO “The frozen Lake Lagoda. Known as The Road of Life it soon became the only way to escape encircled Leningrad.”

One thing that struck me about Leningrad and the survivors was how strong they were. Reading several interviews of survivors, I found almost all of them did not pity what they went through but saw it mainly as a challenge they had to get through to go on with their lives. The only regrets they had were that they had lost so many friends and family members and regretted not getting out of the city with those loved ones when they had the chance. To me, that was extraordinary, and I wanted to craft a story that would honor those who went through such an ordeal. 

My initial idea for the story was to focus primarily on the Russian side of the war, told from the perspective of an ordinary Russian family attempting to survive. As I began my research this outline began to change a little bit. In the beginning, I didn’t want any of my characters to become involved in the armed forces or political sphere that governed Leningrad. But as I did more digging, I decided it would significantly add to the story for a character to see how the Soviet government handled the siege. I found that it helped explain a lot of the actions Leningraders did and why the city suffered like it did, mainly due to the poor decisions Soviet leaders made. As a result, I made my main protagonist join a volunteer unit where she finds herself being pulled into the inner circle of the people in charge of defending Leningrad.

IMAGE CREDIT IS FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS. “With the end of the siege officials remove the blue signs that warned Leningraders of artillery barrages. In a rare victory for Leningrad survivors after the war the signs were put back up in 1957 to commemorate the siege and remain up in Saint Petersburg today as memorials to the victims. The signs read ‘Citizens! This part of the street is most dangerous during the artillery barrage.’”

The other big change I made was the perspective of the story. Even though one could argue that the story of Leningrad is a purely Russian story, I found the German side to be equally interesting. While there are few accounts from German soldiers who fought on the Leningrad Front, the few that did give their testimonies reveal a group of people who entered the war with the idea that they were liberating the Soviet people but quickly became disillusioned when they realized the human cost of waging such a battle and the persistence of the Soviet people not to give up their city. For many of them, the siege broke their belief in German superiority and that their leaders had made the right decision of waging war with the Soviet Union. With that knowledge I decided to split the narrative equally between the Russians and Germans. 

Looking back, I’m glad I made the decisions I made and that I went away from what I originally outlined. I’m a planner but veering away from that outline turned out to be for the best. My hope is that I crafted a story that honors both the survivors and the victims. 

IMAGE CREDIT IS FROM SERGEY STRUNNIKOV VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS. PLEASE CAPITON PHOTO “Fireworks over Leningrad following the end of the siege, 27 January 1944.” 

Thank you so much for sharing. It sounds like you went on a fascinating journey yourself while writing your book. Good luck with it.

Here’s the blurb:

Leningrad, 1941. As Europe crumbles under the German war machine, the people of the Soviet Union watch. There are whispers of war but not loud enough for the civilians of Leningrad to notice. Instead, they keep their heads down and try to avoid the ever-watching eyes of their own oppressive government.

University student Tatiana Ivankova tries to look ahead to the future after a family tragedy that characterizes life under the brutal regime. But, when the rumors that have been circulating the country become a terrifying reality, Tatiana realizes that the greatest fear may not be the enemy but what her fellow citizens are prepared to do to each other to survive. 

As his men plow through the Russian countryside, Heinrich Nottebohm is told to follow orders and ask no questions, even if such commands go against his own principles. His superiors hold over him a past event that continues to destroy him with every day that passes. But, when given the opportunity to take an act of defiance, Heinrich will jump at the chance, ignoring what the end results could be. 

Leningrad: The Peoples War tells the harrowing beginning of a war that forever changed the landscape of a city, told through the eyes of both sides in a tale of courage, love, and sacrifice. 

Buy Links:

This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited.

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Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Meet the author

Rachel R. Heil is a historical fiction writer who always dreamed of being an author. After years of dreaming, she finally decided to turn this dream into a reality with her first novel, and series, Behind the Darkened Glass. Rachel is an avid history fan, primarily focused on twentieth century history and particularly World War Two-era events. In addition to her love for history, Rachel loves following the British Royal Family and traveling the world, which only opens the door to learning more about a country’s history. Rachel resides in Wisconsin.

Connect with Rachel

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The Last Shield is a Bookbub deal this week. Just 99p/99c/65 INR and the whole series is reduced on Amazon UK/US as well

I’m super excited to share the huge promotion for book 6 in The Ninth Century series, which is currently 99p UK, 99c Canada and Australia, and 65 INR, as well as being reduced in all marketplaces. And if that’s not enough, all six books, in both original and the Cleaner versions, are also reduced on on Amazon US and UK. (Well, apart from book 1, which is always 99p/99c).

So, if you’ve not caught up with events in Mercia in the 870s, before the release of book 7, which I couldn’t resist calling The Last Seven, now is the perfect opportunity to do.

books2read.com/TheLastShield

(The link will take you to the original version of The Last Shield).

books2read.com/TheLastKingCleaner

(this link will take you to Book 1 in the Cleaner Versions series, and then you should be able to find all of the books from it.)

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I’m reviewing The Discarded by Louis van Schalkwyk, #Thriller #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

A fast paced thriller you won’t forget!


‘There were many moments where I can honestly say ‘I did not see that coming’’ – Tina Simpson

Ellis Neill wakes up next to his family one morning, just as he had done for the last ten years, unaware that it would be his last taste of freedom.

His life soon spirals out of control and he is cast into a remote prison in the Arctic wilderness where nothing is as it seems, the inmates rule and a sinister figure wants him and his family dead.

Resulting from carefully laid plans he is plunged into a fight for survival, sanity and saving those he loves.

‘A masterpiece of a story with thrills and twists!’ – Laura, reviewer

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

Review

It was the cover that drew me to this book. Anything with a wintry landscape! And the book did not disappoint.

The story begins with a gruesome murder and only then do we meet our main character, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and convicted without any real chance of proving his innocence before he’s sent to a desolate prison.

The sequence of events is just this side of realistic and ramps up very quickly. The book is somewhat violent, but flows well and is fast paced, and the body count soon begins to build.

This very much reminded me of the movie Taken, or anything in that genre. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it to fans of thrillers. The writing style is confident and the pace never slackens.

Meet the Author

Louis van Schalkwyk was born in South Africa and currently resides in Hong Kong. “The Discarded” is his debut novel, inspired by years honing his writing skills and drawing influence from his favorite authors. When Louis isn’t writing he enjoys reading and sampling various cuisines with his wife, Courtney.

Connect with the Author

https://www.facebook.com/louisvsauthor

https://www.instagram.com/louisvsauthor/

https://mobile.twitter.com/louisvanschalk3

Connect with the Publisher

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kingsleypublishers/?hl=en-gb

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kingsleypublis1

Follow The Discarded blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
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Today, I’m delighted to welcome back Renee Yancy to the blog, with her new book, More Precious Than Gold #blogtour #historicalromance

Welcome back to the blog. I’m excited to hear about the inspiration for your new book, More Precious Than Gold. (Here is the post from last time Renee was on the blog)

The inspiration for More Precious Than Gold came through several different channels. At first, I planned to write a sequel to my first book in the Hearts of Gold series, The Test of Gold. I wanted to continue the saga of Lindy’s family with her daughter, Kitty.

That put me roughly into the time period of 1918.

I also had several readers comment on the original character of Vera Lindenmayer, Kitty’s grandmother, whom I based on the real-life person of Alva Vanderbilt. The same Alva Vanderbilt who forced her daughter to marry the Duke of Marlborough at age 18. They wanted Vera to get her comeuppance!

When I started researching, I came across so much information about WWI and the Pandemic Flu of 1918 that I started thinking of a way my character could get involved. I spent approximately two years researching the pandemic flu.

It was fascinating and horrifying at the same time. Having been an RN for 48 years now, it seemed natural to make my character Kitty a student nurse. After reading the book Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky, I knew I wanted to use Bellevue Hospital.

Many things have changed in the last 100 years of nursing, but some things never change and it was great fun to write about Kitty’s adventures as a student nurse before things get grim as the pandemic flu hit New York City.

At times the writing was difficult, as I got to the pandemic flu part. Then, as now, we all know someone who had COVID or had it ourselves. But the flu of 1918 disproportionately affected people in the 20 to 40 age range―people in the prime of their lives, as opposed to the elderly and very young whom the flu usually affects. In New York City alone, over 100,000 children were left orphans. 

So I had to choose which characters in the story would die of the flu. To be realistic, I couldn’t let them all survive. And I had grown so attached to them that I didn’t want any of them to perish. But it had to be done. 

I finished the manuscript for this story in 2017, two years before COVID hit. No one was more surprised than me to find myself in the middle of a modern pandemic. 

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration. Isn’t it strange how you spent so long researching the book, and then Covid came along? Good luck with your new release.

Here’s the blurb:

A young woman refuses to become a pawn in her grandmother’s revenge scheme and forgoes a life of wealth and royalty to pursue a nursing career as America enters WWI and the Pandemic Flu of 1918 wreaks havoc in New York City.

Buy Links:

Universal Link:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CA:

Barnes and Noble: KoboApple Books

Meet the Author

Renee Yancy is a history and archaeology nut who works as an RN when she isn’t writing historical fiction or traveling the world to see the exotic places her characters have lived.

A voracious reader as a young girl, she now writes the kind of books she loves to read—stories filled with historical and archaeological detail interwoven with strong characters facing big conflicts. Her goal is to take you on a journey into the past so fascinating that you can’t put the story down. 

When she isn’t writing, Renee can be found in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband and a rescue mutt named Ellie. She loves flea markets and collecting pottery and glass and most anything mid-century modern.

Connect with Renee

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Today, I’m reviewing The Sweetheart Locket #blogtour #histfic #dualtimeline

Here’s the blurb:

What if the key to your present lies in the past?

London, 1939
On the eve of the Second World War, Canadian Maggie Wyndham defies her family and stays in England to do her bit for the war effort. Torn between two countries, two men and living a life of lies working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Maggie’s RAF sweetheart locket is part of who she is…and who she isn’t.

San Francisco, 2019
Over twenty years after Maggie’s death, her daughter Millie and granddaughter Willow take a DNA test that’s supposed to be a bit of fun but instead yields unexpected results. Willow has always treasured her grandmother’s sweetheart locket, both family heirloom and a symbol of her grandparents’ love story. But now she doesn’t know what to believe. She embarks on a search for the truth, one she doesn’t know will reveal far more about herself…

A gripping and heart-breaking dual timeline novel about love, loss and buried secrets, The Sweetheart Locket is perfect for fans of Lorna Cook, Rachel Hore and Suzanne Kelman.

Purchase Links 

Universal Amazon link: 

Other links (Apple, GooglePlay & Kobo) via Hachette: https://www.hachette.co.uk/titles/jen-gilroy-2/the-sweetheart-locket/9781398708365/

My Review

The Sweetheart Locket is a dual timeline story following the lives of 1939 Maggie in London, and 2019 Willow, her granddaughter, who has made her life in California.

The story of Maggie is intriguing, and covers the years of the Second World War, while Willow’s story is mainly told throughout a five week holiday in London. There are epilogues concluding the stories of all of the cast.

The focus of Maggie’s story is not truly her work during the Second World War, but rather on the men in her life, and how the Second World War impacted on those relationships, and then how she kept much of this secret from her daughter, who also had her own struggles as a young woman.

Willow’s story focuses on her need to understand some DNA results she receives just before travelling to London on a research trip. It is this that drives much of the narrative surrounding Willow, although it is not the only element to the story. Willow too is trying to find true love.

The twin narratives weave together quite well, although Maggie is by far the stronger of the two storylines. It is her story that engrossed me, and although I did work out much of the plot in advance, The Sweetheart Locket is still an entertaining read, especially for those looking for the surety of happy endings. Willow’s story is perhaps a little overly complicated, and also too filled with happenstance for my liking. It is Maggie who by far shines as the stronger of the two women, although the juxtaposition between the two characters is quite nicely portrayed.

If you’re a fan of dual timeline novels set in both a contemporary and World War 2 setting, and with a strong element of romance, The Sweetheart Locket will be a perfect read.

Meet the Author

Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home.

A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.

A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London. Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.

Visit Jen online at www.jengilroy.com

Connect with Jen

Twitter: www.twitter.com/JenGilroy1

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jen.gilroyauthor/

Giveaway to Win 2 x Kindle copies of The Sweetheart Locket (Open to UK / Canada)

*Terms and Conditions –UK & Canada 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/33c69494508/?

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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/

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

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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: 

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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

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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 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
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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 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.

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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

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

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.