My new book, King of Kings, has a number of main characters. Meet Ealdred, Lord of Bamburgh.

King of Kings has a number of characters, and King Ealdred, or Lord Ealdred of Bamburgh is one of them. But who was he, and what was the independent kingdom of Bamburgh?

Now, I think we all ‘think’ we know about Bebbanburg (Bamburgh) thanks to Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Bernard Cornwell’s creation. But events in Bamburgh are complex and not easy to understand, even for someone who might think they know the period quite well.

So what was Bamburgh? Bamburgh is traditionally associated with the kingdom of Bernicia – the far northern Saxon kingdom, which was particularly prominent during the seventh century, so three hundred years before the events of King of Kings, and which was joined to the kingdom of Deira to form Northumbria. Check out my Gods and Kings trilogy for the some of the events of this period.

The iconic castle that stands today is a later building, the oldest part, the keep, dating to the end of the Saxon period, while much of what we see today is the later work of Lord Armstrong (who built Cragside), when he significantly repaired the remains. Indeed, the family still own Bamburgh Castle, although not Cragside, which is a National Trust property. (I’ve written a 1930s mystery set at Cragside).

Bamburgh is slightly unusual in that there are old images of the castle before the 19th century work of Armstrong. I enjoy collecting these antique prints. We often find such buildings falling into ruin, not being ruined and the rebuilt.

Antique prints of Bamburgh Castle

And Bamburgh Castle and its environs are stuffed with archaeology. There were some very famous archaeological investigations undertaken in the 1960s, and there’s now a dedicated team unearthing the treasures hidden beneath the current building. You can follow the teams work at Bamburgh Research Project’s Blog. You might know about Bamburgh because of the seventh century bones discovered in the Bole Hole, and there’s a great book about this, Warrior by Edoardo Albert and Paul Gething – available from all good book sellers. You can also learn about where these bones now lie by checking out Bamburgh Bones.

The well

But, all this is before the events of the tenth-century (or after), as fascinating as it is. So, what was happening in the tenth-century? The easiest way I can describe this is that while York, and much of the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria was inundated with the Norse (Viking raiders if you will), Bamburgh was a bastion against this influx, wedged between the growing might of the kingdom of the Scots, ruled by Constantin, and the constantly changing affairs of York, and its string of Norse rulers, often associated with Dublin as well.

Ealdred’s father, Eadwulf is somewhat better attested, with the Annals of Ulster naming him as ‘king of the Saxons of the north.’ He died in c.913 and then Ealdred seems to have had a difficult time of it, his gaze more likely to turn to the Scots kingdom than the known Saxon rulers based in Mercia and Wessex when he was threatened by the Norse Viking raiders.

However, he joined an alliance with Edward the Elder, king of the Anglo-Saxons, in 924.

‘And then the king of Scots and all the nation of Scots chose him as father and lord; and [so also did] Reginald and Eadwulf’s sons and all those who live in Northumbria, both English and Danish and Norweigans and others; and also the king of the Strathclyde Britons and all the Strathclyde Britons.’

(Swanton, M. trans and edit The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, (Orion Publishing Group, 2000 p.104 (A text )

While this can’t be dated any more precisely than 924, it mustn’t have been long before the death of Edward the Elder, which occurred in 924. And this then takes us to the beginning of King of Kings. Will Ealdred continue his alliance with the new king of the Anglo-Saxons, or will he look elsewhere, especially now that the Viking raider, Sihtric, is lord of York/Jorvik?

As to Uhtred himself, of The Last Kingdom fame, he’s even more shadowy than Ealdred, and for that reason, doesn’t feature at all in King of Kings, although there is an ealdorman Uhtred who will appear in subsequent books.

Map design by Shaun at Flintlock Covers

Preorder King of Kings

(released 10th February 2023)

books2read.com/King-of-Kings

Meet Hywel, the king of the West Welsh

Meet Constantin, the king of the Scots

Meet Athelstan, the king of the English

My new book, King of Kings, has a number of main characters. Meet Hywel, the king of the West Welsh.

My new book, King of Kings, is a multi-viewpoint novel telling the story of events in Britain from 925-934. I thought it would be good to share details of the historical people my main characters are based on.

My portrayal of Hywel, better known as Hywel Dda (which autocorrect is determined should say Dad), and which means ‘good’ (a unique epithet in Wales), is of course, fictional, but who was the historical Hywel? Firstly, it should be noted that this epithet is a later invention, not assigned to Hywel until at least the twelfth century, and perhaps, as Dr. Kari Maund has commented in The Welsh Kings: Warriors, Warlords and Princes, a reflection of border events at that period rather than the earlier tenth century. (Dr Maund was one of my university lecturers, so she knows her stuff).

By Unknown author – This image is available from the National Library of WalesYou can view this image in its original context on the NLW Catalogue, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41427788

Hywel has no date of birth recorded, and indeed, like Constantin of the Scots, he seems to have ruled for a long time providing much-needed consistency. Hywel ap Cadell was the grandson of the famous Rhodri Mawr, who’d united the kingdoms of the Welsh during his rule. But, this unity fragmented on Rhodri’s death.

To begin with, Hywel ruled Dehuebarth, probably with his brother, Clydog, (who may have been the younger brother) after the death of their father in c.911. He, his brother, and his cousin, Idwal of Gwynedd, submitted to the English king, Edward the Elder in the late 910s.

‘and the kings of Wales: Hywel and Clydog and Idwal and all the race of the Welsh, sought him as their lord [Edward]’. ASC A 922 corrected to 918 (Swanton, M. trans and edit The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, (Orion Publishing Group, 2000)p.103-4)

Not long after, Clydog died, leaving Hywel as ruler of Dehuebarth. Hywel had also married Elen, the daughter of Llywarch and niece of Rhydderch, the last king of Dyfed, and he was able to use this alliance to eventually claim Dyfed as well.

Hywel’s believed to have been highly educated, and some historians suggest he was particularly fascinated with King Alfred, and all he’d achieved and was therefore keen to emulate many of his actions. This could also be why his name came to be associated with the codification of laws in later traditions. What fascinates me most about Hywel is his decision to ally closely with King Athelstan which will be explored in King of Kings. Certainly, he is a intriguing figure in early tenth-century Britain, and not just because we know he made a pilgrimage to Rome in 928, and still managed to return back to his kingdom and continue ruling it.

Map design by Shaun at Flintlock Covers

Preorder King of Kings

(released 10th February 2023)

books2read.com/King-of-Kings

Meet Ealdred, the king of Bamburgh

Meet Constantin, the king of the Scots

Meet Athelstan, the king of the English

My new book, King of Kings, has a number of main characters. Meet Constantin, the king of the Scots.

My new book, King of Kings, is a multi-viewpoint novel telling the story of events in Britain from 925-934. I thought it would be good to share details of the historical people my character are based on.

My portrayal of Constantin, the king of the Scots, is of course fictional in King of Kings, but he is based on a historical individual, Constantin (e) II, so who exactly was he?

Constantin is a fascinating character. Again, and as with Athelstan, his exact date of birth is unknown, but it must have been, at the latest, by 877/8, when his short-reigned father died.

By 900, Constantin was the king of the Scots (we think – there is some confusion about this). This wasn’t yet quite Scotland, but it was getting there. The ancient kingdoms of Cait, Fortriu, Atholl and Dal Riata, were ruled by one king, Constantin. But, he hadn’t succeeded his father, Aed, but rather a man named Domnall II, his cousin. At this time there were two rival dynasties and they strictly alternated the kingship.

Affairs in the kingdom of the Scots often intermingled with those of the independent kingdom of Bamburgh, Strathclyde, and of course, the Norse, or Viking raiders, if you will. Indeed, the entry recording Constantin’s death in the Annals of Ulster, reads as though there was often strife.

Constantinus son of Ed held the kingdom for xl years in whose third year the Northmen plundered Dunkeld and all Albania. In the following year the Northmen were slain in Strath Erenn…And the battle of Tinemore happened in his xviii year between Constantin and Ragnall and the Scotti had the victory. And the battle of Dun Brunde in his xxxiiii year.’ (Alex Woolf, From Pictland to Scotland, 789-1070,p.126)

Constantin, ruling for decades, and I mean decades, seems to have brought much needed stability to the kingdom, as affairs there very much mirrored the emerging ‘England’ to the south.

‘Constantin’s reign has increasingly come to be see as one of the most significant in the history of Scotland. Not only was it very long, at least forty years, but it was also the period during which conflict and diplomatic relations between a kingdom recognisably ancestral to Scotland and one recognisably ancestral to England first occurred.’ (Alex Woolf, From Pictland to Scotland, 789-1070, p.128)

Constantin allied with the rulers of Bamburgh, and York, and also, on occasion, both Æthelflæd of Mercia and Edward the Elder, after her death. But, he seems to have been quite flexible in his thinking, and was prepared to pick and choice as he saw fit.

By the beginning of King of Kings, Constantin would have been in his mid-forties, and he was still to rule for many years to come, and he was certainly a more than adequate counterpart to Athelstan, king of the English, no doubt helped by his sons and grandsons, as his reign continued.

Map design by Shaun at Flintlock Covers

Preorder King of Kings

(released 10th February 2023)

books2read.com/King-of-Kings

Meet Athelstan, the king of the English

Meet Hywel, the king of the West Welsh

Meet Ealdred, the king of Bamburgh

I’m sharing my review for brand new cosy crime A Date to Die For by E.V Hunter #cosycrime

Here’s the blurb

The start of brand-new Cozy Crime series! Welcome to Hopgood Hall.

An unlikely duo…

When investigative journalist, Alexi Ellis, falls victim to cutbacks, she and Cosmo, her anti-social feral cat, head for beautiful Hopgood Hall, where they plan to lick their wounds in the boutique hotel run by her old friends, Cheryl and Drew Hopgood.

A missing woman…

But when she arrives Alexi discovers Cheryl and Drew both distraught. Their close friend, Natalie Parker, who recently settled in the area, has gone missing. Alexi’s sure the woman has just taken a trip somewhere, but she still has a nose for a story and agrees to look into it.

A case to solve!

So too does ex-Met Police detective turned private eye, Jack Maddox. Natalie Parker had been using his sister’s online dating agency and Jack needs to find her before his sister’s business is ruined.

Reluctantly, Alexi, Jack – and Cosmo! – join forces to find out what happened to Natalie. But soon they discover secrets that someone desperately wants to make sure are never revealed!

Purchase Link

https://amzn.to/3HiFHso

My Review

A Date to Die For by E V Hunter is a fast-paced, modern-day cosy mystery.

The two main characters, well three if we include our side-kick, Cosmo, the cat, are well-sketched. Alexi has run away from her old life in the city to her friends in the country. Jack already has a new life in the country. They’re both city bods, suddenly faced with the world of equestrian shenanigans; one a journalist and one an ex-police officer working as a private investigator. And Cosmo, is well, Cosmo. He’s an unusual cat who likes to travel and has no problem being on a leash.

The author has such an engaging writing style. I actually couldn’t believe how quickly I read the pages, the mystery burbling away as the point of view switches between the two main characters so that the reader gets to know them and begins to unravel the mystery of the disappearance of Natalie, the woman who ran a local flower delivery company, but who hasn’t been seen for days.

Events take a slightly darker turn as the story progresses. The mystery itself is well-developed, and while there is one particular scene that might have every reader shouting, ‘No, don’t do that,’ I found the resolution to be satisfying and twisty enough that I’d never have guessed it.

A twisty, tightly-plotted cosy mystery, with a fabulous writing style. Very enjoyable.

Meet the Author

E.V. Hunter has written a great many successful regency romances as Wendy Soliman and revenge thrillers as Evie Hunter. She is now redirecting her talents to produce cosy murder mysteries. For the past twenty years she has lived the life of a nomad, roaming the world on interesting forms of transport, but has now settled back in the UK.

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(This post contains an Amazon affililate link)

Today, I’m welcoming The White Sails Series Collector’s Edition by Emma Lombard to the blog #blogtour

Here’s the blurb

Award-winner, The White Sails Series, where icy winter storms, opportunistic mercenaries, uncharted lands, and a colourful crew of sailors are all lashed together by an epic love story. 

This collector’s edition includes all four books in the series.

The White Sails Series: Special Hardback Omnibus

If Bridgerton and Pirates of the Caribbean had a love child.

Are you a fan of sweeping romantic adventures?

Do you fall for tall, brooding Naval Officers?

Love a feisty female lead who makes you yell aloud?

Then hop aboard Emma Lombard’s hardback Collector’s Edition of The White Sails Series, and batten down the hatches!

But why?

Well, firstly, let me tell you what my Kickstarter campaign isn’t. It isn’t a plea for donations, it’s not a beg for money, and it’s not just another retailer.

Okay, so what is it then? 

Kickstarter is a wonderful way for me to give more to my fans.

It allows fans access to a special collector’s edition that is not (and will never be) available from online retailers.

It allows fans to have each and every copy personalised, which is just not doable on retailers.

It also allows fans a more intimate view of the story behind my series.

And best of all, it allows fans to get involved in my next series, whether through an exclusive sneak peek of the first draft or even having a character named after them.

Oh, and did I mention there’s an opportunity to win the original oil painting of the cover?

Where else in the world do you get all this extra cool stuff thrown in just because you bought a book?

What’s in it for you, Emma?

Without wanting to sound too cheesy, I’m beside myself to put such a pretty book out in the world. I’m mean, just look at that dreamy sunset! I’m not going to lie, I love a chunky book.

This collector’s edition fulfils my ultimate author dream—to be able to hold (and smell) a weighty tome. I’m not the only one—I’ve had folks walk up to my books at the market and pick them up just to smell them! My kind of peeps!

I know it’s taboo to talk about money, but the pledges received for this campaign will help me recoup some of the upfront expenses that I have already laid out, like editing, book cover design, audiobook narration, and it will give me the momentum I need to invest in those same services for my next series, The Gold Hills Series.

You’ll be helping keep the indie publishing ecosphere turning, which in turn lets me keep creating more stories.

So, what’s The White Sails Series about?

One of my readers described it best: If Bridgerton and Pirates of the Caribbean had a love child.

The idea for this series was born from a tiny nugget of family gossip that my grandmother shared with me. She told me how my 3x great grandmother left her well-to-do family in England to elope with an English sea captain, and live aboard his ship with him. 

I took the basic concept of this story and had a blast creating an entirely fictitious imagining of what it might have been like for a woman to live aboard a ship in those days. Quite ironic considering that I get terribly sea-sick myself.

Curious? Never seen what a Kickstarter campaign looks like?

Just looking: Take a look at Emma’s campaign to see it in detail: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/emma-lombard-author/the-white-sails-series-special-hardback-omnibus-audiobook?ref=9oxhwz

Note: clicking on this link will not sign you up to anything, it will simply take you to the campaign page to look.

GIVEAWAY

Batten down the hatches, m’lovelies, for a chance to win an exclusive, personalised, hardcover Collector’s Edition of The White Sails Series: 

Fill out the entry form — https://forms.gle/Be1snbRhVZzcKyKY7

Winner will be notified by email on February 18th, 2023.

Buy Links 

Exclusively available on Kickstarter

Meet the author

Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick.

Connect with Emma

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Follow The White Sail Series Collector’s Edition blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

My new book, King of Kings, has a number of main characters. Meet Athelstan, the King of the English.

Athelstan is one of the main characters in my new book, King of Kings, a multiple point of view story, recounting affairs in Britain from 925-934.

Based on a historical person, my portrayal of him, is of course, fictitious, but there are many details known about him. However, we don’t know for sure who his mother was, it’s believed she might have been called Ecgwynn, and we don’t know, for certain, the name of his sister, but it’s believed she might have been named Edith. What is known is that his father was Edward, the son of King Alfred, and known to us today as Edward the Elder. Athelstan is also rare in that he is one of only two Saxon kings for who a contemporary image is available. (The other is Edgar, who would have been his step-nephew)

Edward the Elder
Edward the Elder – MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg
Miniature d’Édouard l’Ancien dans une généalogie royale du XIVe siècle. WikiCommons

It must be supposed that Athelstan was born sometime in the late 890s. And according to a later source, that written by William of Malmesbury in the 1100s (so over two hundred years later), Athelstan was raised at the court of his aunt, Æthelflæd of Mercia. David Dumville has questioned the truth of this, but to many, this has simply become accepted as fact.

‘he [Alfred] arranged for the boy’s education at the court of his daughter, Æthelflæd and Æthelred his son in law, where he was brought up with great care by his aunt and the eminent ealdorman for the throne that seemed to await him.’[i]


[i] Mynors, R.A.B. ed and trans, completed by Thomson, R.M. and Winterbottom, M. Gesta Regvm AnglorvmThe History of the English Kings, William of Malmesbury, (Clarendon Press, 1998), p.211 Book II.133

Æthelflæd image
Æthelflæd as depicted in the cartulary of Abingdon Abbey (British Library Cotton MS Claudius B VI, f.14).
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Æthelflæd_as_depicted_in_the_cartulary_of_Abingdon_Abbey.png
AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Why then might this have happened? Edward became king on the death of his father, Alfred, and either remarried at that time, or just before. Edward’s second wife (if indeed, he was actually married to Athelstan’s mother, which again, some doubt), Lady Ælfflæd is believed to have been the daughter of an ealdorman and produced a hefty number of children for Edward. Perhaps then, Athelstan and his unnamed sister, were an unwelcome reminder of the king’s first wife, or perhaps, as has been suggested, Alfred intended for Athelstan to succeed in Mercia after the death of Æthelflæd, and her husband, Æthelred, for that union produced one child, a daughter named Ælfwynn.

There is an acknowledged dearth of information surrounding King Edward the Elder’s rule of Wessex. He’s acknowledged as the king of the Anglo-Saxons. His father had been the king of Wessex. Historians normally use the surviving charters to unpick the political machinations of the Saxon kings, but for Edward, there’s a twenty year gap between the beginning and end of his reign, where almost no known genuine charters have survived. What isn’t known for sure, is how much control, if any, he had in Mercia. Was Mercia subservient to Wessex or was it ruled independently? It’s impossible to tell. And this makes it difficult to determine what Athelstan might have been doing, and also what his father’s intentions were towards him.

Frontispiece of Bede’s Life of St Cuthbert, showing King Æthelstan (924–39) presenting a copy of the book to the saint himself. 29.2 x 20cm (11 1/2 x 7 7/8″). Originally from MS 183, f.1v at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. (Wikimedia Commons)

What is known is that following the death of King Edward in 924, Athelstan was acknowledged as the king of Mercia; his stepbrother, Ælfweard was proclaimed king in Wessex. As with all events at this time, it shouldn’t be assumed that just because this is what happened, this is what was always intended.

‘Here King Edward died at Farndon in Mercia; and very soon, 16 days after, his son Ælfweard died at Oxford; and their bodies lie at Winchester. And Athelstan was chosen as king by the Mercians and consecrated at Kingston.’[i]


[i] Swanton, M. trans and edit The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, (Orion Publishing Group, 2000), D text p.105

But, if Athelstan was raised in Mercia, it’s highly likely he was a warrior from a young age, helping the Mercians defeat the Viking raiders who still had control of the Danish Five Boroughs of Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester.

And the events of 924 are where King of Kings begins, and so I will leave him there. By now, he would have been perhaps thirty years old, give or take a few years. What sort of man was he? What sort of king might he be? Do please read King of Kings to find out. And, if this intrigues you, then do please have a look at Sarah Foot’s wonderful monograph on him, Athelstan, from Yale Publishing.

Design by Boldwood Books

Preorder King of Kings now

(released 20th February 2023)

books2read.com/King-of-Kings

Meet Hywel, king of the West Welsh

Meet Constantin, king of the Scots

Today, it’s my turn on the #blogtour for Jane Dunn’s new historical romance, The Marriage Season. (There’s a lot of horses in this, so yes, I loved it:)

Here’s the blurb

‘It’s not a fair world I’m afraid. Beauty or fortune carries the day. You have the beauty and I the fortune, so there’s every chance we’ll succeed’

In Regency England, marriage is everything. For young widow Sybella Lovatt, the time has come to find a suitable husband for her sister and ward Lucie. Male suitors are scarce near their Wiltshire estate, so the sisters resolve to head to London in time for The Season to begin.

Once ensconced at the Mayfair home of Lady Godley, Lucie’s godmother, the whirl of balls, parties and promenades can begin. But the job of finding a husband is fraught with rules and tradition. Jostling for attention are the two lords – the charming and irresistible Freddie Lynwood and the preternaturally handsome Valentine Ravenell, their enigmatic neighbour from Shotten Hall, Mr Brabazon, and the dangerous libertine Lord Rockliffe, with whom the brooding Brabazon is locked in deadly rivalry.

Against the backdrop of glamorous Regency England, Sybella must settle Lucie’s future, protect her own reputation, and resist the disreputable rakes determined to seduce the beautiful widow. As the Season ends, will the sisters have found the rarest of things – a suitable marriage with a love story to match? 

Purchase Link

https://amzn.to/3DqXPOI

My Review

The Marriage Season by Jane Dunn is a delightful Regency romance that’s a little different to similar tales I’ve read, for the story is not just of a young woman trying to find a husband but of a widow deciding if she is perhaps prepared to love again, and her small son, James, or Jim as he likes to be called.

As much as Lucie and Sybella are fabulous creations, as are the men they encounter, it is little Jim and his love of ‘prancers’ that truly steals the show, and why not? That said, the story of Lucie and Sybella is delightful and well-told. Yes, it contains the twisting storylines we might expect, but the author has also littered the narrative with some delightful, period-specific words, which make the story really sparkle. And it’s not just young Jim and his roguish words that bring that charm.

I really adored The Marriage Season. Yes, it was fairly obvious what was going to happen, but that’s not truly the charm of the story but rather the detours the reader is taken on along the way, and of course, young Jim and his love of prancers is a true delight.

Meet the author

Jane Dunn is an historian and biographer and the author of seven acclaimed biographies, including Daphne du Maurier and her Sisters and the Sunday Times and NYT bestseller, Elizabeth & Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. She comes to Boldwood with her first fiction outing – a trilogy of novels set in the Regency period, the first of which is to be published in January 2023. She lives in Berkshire with her husband, the linguist Nicholas Ostler.

Connect with Jane

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Today, I’m delighted to welcome Isabella Muir and her new novel, A Notable Omission, to the blog with a fab post about historical research #blogtour

A Notable Omission is the seventh novel from Isabella Muir – all of them set during the 1960s and 1970s.  Here Isabella Muir provides some insight into one particular resource that helped her set the story in this particular historical period…

Having fun with historical research

Online research is fun, of course, but right now I’m saying thank goodness for libraries!  With all my novels being set during those iconic decades of the 1960s and 1970s I’ve built up a broad range of resources to support my research into all things ‘sixties’. And along the way, in my local library, I tracked down a fascinating book.  The Neophiliacs was written by Christopher Booker and published in 1969.  It turns out that it is now out of print and Amazon are asking over £100 for a copy!  So, you can imagine my delight when my wonderful library managed to retrieve a copy from their ‘rare and out-of-print’ books.

Wanting to find out more about Christopher Booker, I did what many do nowadays in these times of instant ‘information’ – I Googled him.  I discovered that back in 1961 he became the founder and one of the early editors of the satirical magazine Private Eye.  He was the first jazz critic for the Sunday and Daily Telegraph and continued as a weekly columnist for the Telegraph right up to 2019, when he finally retired at the age of 81.  As well as The Neophiliacs Booker has written a number of books studying British society, as well as commenting on wider issues, such as the European Union.  Some of his views regarding climate change, health issues, such as the dangers of asbestos and cigarettes, have been controversial; he would appear to be someone who is not afraid to say what he thinks, even if it means going against the grain.

However, as much as Mr Booker and I do not see eye-to-eye over such issues as climate change, his insight into the long-term implications of social change during the 1950s and 1960s have really struck a chord with me.

This paragraph in particular made me sit up and think:

‘…the twentieth century has also provided two other factors to aggravate and to feed the general neurosis; the first being the image-conveying apparatus of films, radio, television, advertising, mass-circulation newspapers and magazines; the second the feverishly increased pace of life, from communications and transport to the bewildering speed of change and innovation, all of which has created a profound subconscious restlessness which neurotically demands to be assuaged by more speed and more change of every kind.’

From: THE NEOPHILIACS: A STUDY OF THE REVOLUTION IN ENGLISH LIFE IN THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES BY CHRISTOPHER BOOKER

Of course, now in 2023 the desire for speed is all around us – from the need for ever faster broadband, to high-speed rail links and non-stop Transatlantic flights.  Some will point out that the changes started when the Industrial Revolution resulted in horse-drawn carriages and ploughs being replaced with the engine and the first railways.  Social change is ongoing, but it does appear that some eras are more significant than others.

What is fascinating is to realise that at least sixty or seventy years ago Booker was able to identify ‘restlessness’ as it was happening, knowing that people would need more of the same, on and on until we reach the present day addiction to online and social media, where we constantly flick through images to gratify our seemingly ever reducing attention span.

Sadly, when my loan period expired, I had to return The Neophiliacs to the library, but not before making copious notes. Notes that helped no end as I drafted A Notable Omissionand insights that I hope have helped to set the scene for the novel, transporting readers back to an era when the pace of life was a tad gentler than it is today.

Here’s the blurb

A 1970s debate on equality is overshadowed by a deadly secret…

Spring 1970. Sussex University is hosting a debate about equality for women. But when one of the debating group goes missing, attention turns away from social injustice to something more sinister.

It seems every one of the group has something to hide, and when a second tragedy occurs, two of the delegates – amateur sleuth Janie Juke, and reporter Libby Frobisher – are prepared to make themselves unpopular to flush out the truth. Who is lying and why?

Alongside the police investigation, Janie and Libby are determined to prise answers from the tight-lipped group, as they find themselves in a race against time to stop another victim being targeted.

In A Notable Omission we meet Janie at the start of a new decade. When we left Janie at the end of The Invisible Case she was enjoying her new found skills and success as an amateur sleuth. Here we meet her a few months later, stealing a few days away from being a wife and mother, attending a local conference on women’s liberation to do some soul-searching…

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Notable-Omission-Janie-Juke-mystery-ebook/dp/B0BQCLRYS6

US – https://www.amazon.com/Notable-Omission-Janie-Juke-mystery-ebook/dp/B0BQCLRYS6

Meet the author

Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of family life in southern England in past decades – specifically those years from the Second World War through to the early 1970s. Researching all aspects of life back then has formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. It was during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing when Isabella rekindled her love of writing fiction and since then she has gone on to publish seven novels, six novellas and two short story collections.

This latest novel, A Notable Omission, is the fourth book in her successful Sussex Crime Mystery series, featuring young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. The early books in the series are set in the late 1960s in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, where we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. This latest novel in the series is set along the south coast in Brighton in early 1970, a time when young people were finding their voice and using it to rail against social injustice.

As well as four novels, there are six novellas in the series, set during the Second World War, exploring some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.

Isabella’s love of Italy shines through all her work and, as she is half-Italian, she has enjoyed bringing all her crime novels to an Italian audience with Italian translations, which are very well received.

Isabella has also written a second series of Sussex Crimes, set in the sixties, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi, who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.

Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.

Find out more about Isabella and her books by visiting her website at: http://www.isabellamuir.com

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Happy publication day to Murder in Chianti by TA Williams #cosymystery #NewRelease

Here’s the blurb

The brand new instalment in bestselling author T. A. Williams’ Armstrong and Oscar cozy mystery series!

A brand new cozy crime series set in gorgeous Tuscany…It’s murder in paradise!

Murder in broad daylight…

When millionaire magnate, Rex Hunter is found with his head bashed in on the eighth hole of his prestigious golf and country club in beautiful Chianti, it’s a clear case of murder. Hunter was rich and successful and the envy of many, so retired DCI Dan Armstrong thinks the case will be a hole in one to solve….

A despised victim…

But as Dan and his trusty sidekick Oscar begin to dig deeper into Hunter’s lifestyle, they discover a man despised by many. A renowned womaniser, ruthless boss and heartless family man, it seems no one is particularly sorry to see Hunter dead. And the list of possible suspects is endless…

A murderer covering their tracks.

Dan is determined to catch this clever killer, but it seems every new lead brings another dead end. Will this be one case Dan and his canine companion won’t solve?

Purchase Link 

https://amzn.to/405IRYR

My Review

Murder in Chianti is the second book in the Armstrong and Oscar series of cosy crime stories set in modern-day Italy.

I thoroughly enjoyed book 1, and book 2 is even better. Now that Dan is living in Tuscany and is known as someone the local police can call on for assistance, the story can focus much more on the mystery to be solved.

And what a mystery this one is. For ages, it seemed as though no resolution could ever be found. Everything Armstrong and Oscar uncovered contradicted something else they already knew, and wow, there are many characters that the reader could suspect of the foul deed. There were several ‘big reveal’ moments, and when the ‘big reveal’ moment finally arrived for real, I was annoyed that I’d not thought of it before. After all, and looking back, the clues were certainly there, but very well concealed.

A thoroughly entertaining and well-plotted cosy mystery. Highly recommended.

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

Check out my review for book 1, Murder in Tuscany.

Meet the author

T A Williams is the author of over twenty bestselling romances for HQ and Canelo and is now turning his hand to cosy crime, set in his beloved Italy, for Boldwood. The series will introduce us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled Murder in Tuscany, will be published in October 2022. Trevor lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

Connect with T A Williams

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

(This post contains an Amazon affiliate link)

I’m delighted to feature The Flame Tree by Siobhan Daiko on the blog  #HistoricalFiction #WomensFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Here’s the blurb:

In the spring of 1939, dashing young William Burton and the beautiful Constance Han set sail from London on the same ocean liner to Hong Kong.

Romance blossoms while they enjoy games of deck quoits and spend sultry tropical evenings dancing under the stars. Connie is intrigued by Will’s talent for writing poetry, and she offers to give him Cantonese lessons to help him with his new job— a cadet in the colonial service.

But once in Hong Kong, Connie is constrained by filial duty towards her Eurasian parents, and their wish for her to marry someone from her own background. She can’t forget Will however and arranges to meet him in secret under the magnificent canopy of a flame of the forest tree—where she fulfils her promise to teach him to speak Chinese.

Before too long, trouble looms as Japanese forces gather on the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. Will joins a commando group tasked with operating behind enemy lines, and Connie becomes involved in the fight against local fifth columnists.

When war breaks out, they find themselves drawn into a wider conflict than their battle against prejudice. Can they survive and achieve a future together? Or do forces beyond their control keep them forever apart?

Based on a little-known true story, The Flame Tree is a tale of love and survival against all the odds.

PRAISE FOR SIOBHAN DAIKO

“Siobhan Daiko will tug at your heartstrings, and leave you desperate for more…” 

~ Ellie Yarde, The Coffee Pot Book Club.

“Daiko is an author you’ll want to add to your historical fiction favourites.” 

Netgalley Reviewer

Buy Links:

Universal Link: https://mybook.to/TFTHK

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon 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. Siobhan was born of English parents in Hong Kong, attended boarding school in Australia, and then moved to the UK—where she taught modern foreign languages in a Welsh comprehensive school. She now spends her time writing page-turners and enjoying her life near Venice. 

Her novels are compelling, poignant, and deeply moving, with strong characters and evocative settings, but always with romance at their heart. You can find more about her books on her website http://www.siobhandaiko.org

Connect with Siobhan

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Follow The Flame Tree blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club