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.

Universal Link

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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Follow the Leningrad blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

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

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/?

Follow The Sweetheart Locket blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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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.  

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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. 

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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.

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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

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