The Quest for the Crown of Thorns (The Long-Hair Saga #2) by Cynthia Ripley Miller

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AD 454. Three years after the Roman victory over Attila the Hun at Catalaunum, Arria Felix and Garic the Frank are married and enjoying life on Garic’s farm in northern Gaul (France). Their happy life is interrupted, when a cryptic message arrives from Rome, calling Arria home to her father, the esteemed Senator Felix. At Arria’s insistence, but against Garic’s better judgment, they leave at once.

Upon their arrival at Villa Solis, they are confronted with a brutal murder and the dangerous mission that awaits them. The fate of a profound and sacred object–Christ’s Crown of Thorns–rests in their hands. They must carry the holy relic to the safety of Constantinople, away from a corrupt emperor and old enemies determined to steal it for their own gain.

But an even greater force arises to derail their quest–a secret cult willing to commit any atrocity to capture the Crown of Thorns. And all the while, the gruesome murder and the conspiracy behind it haunt Arria’s thoughts.

Arria and Garic’s marital bonds are tested but forged as they partner together to fulfill one of history’s most challenging missions, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns.

REVIEW

A tantalizing adventure awaits you my fellow fiction aficionados as Arria and Garic take on the perilous mission to deliver a relic so precious that people will kill to possess it. A story line with many strands, believable characters, intense drama, and engaging love story. As the journey progresses, it becomes harder to put the book down as the Crown gets closer to Constantinople. Excitement at every turn of the page including an intriguing teaser at the end. Settle back with your beverage of choice and enjoy an exciting look at the Roman world of the 5th century.  4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

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About the Author

Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages and books. She has lived, worked, and travelled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean. As a girl, she often wondered what it would be like to journey through time (she still does), yet knew, it could only be through the imagination and words of writers and their stories. Today, she writes to bring the past to life.

She holds two degrees and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press Mysteries.com and The Scriptor. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist for her novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, she has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus

Cynthia has four children and lives with her husband, twin cats, Romulus and Remus, and Jessie, a German Shepherd, in a suburb of Chicago.

On the Edge of Sunrise is the first in the Long-Hair Saga; a series set in late ancient Rome and France and published by Knox Robinson Publishing. The second book in the series, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, was released in June 2017.

For more information please visit Cynthia Ripley Miller’s website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 

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A Conspiracy of Wolves (Owen Archer #11) by Candace Robb

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1374. When a member of one of York’s most prominent families is found dead in the woods, his throat torn out, rumours spread like wildfire that wolves are running loose throughout the city. Persuaded to investigate by the victim’s father, Owen Archer is convinced that a human killer is responsible. But before he can gather sufficient evidence to prove his case, a second body is discovered, stabbed to death. Is there a connection? What secrets are contained within the victim’s household? And what does apprentice healer Alisoun know that she’s not telling? Teaming up with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is in York on a secret mission on behalf of Prince Edward, Owen’s enquiries will draw him headlong into a deadly conspiracy.

REVIEW

My first foray into the author’s Owen Archer mystery series, A Conspiracy of Wolves is a very satisfying, and entertaining whodunit. I enjoyed the camaraderie between Owen and the crew enlisted to solve the grisly murders. The plot kept me intrigued as each new chapter revealed some new information or twist to the case, shedding light on the complex revenge taking place (I can say no more about that). As this is the first of the series that I have read, I was pleased that the author left enough hints in the narrative to give me some of the back story to Owen’s life and adventures. Another aspect of the tale is the doings of the village and the folk who live there, a creative way to help the readers immerse themselves in the story. The characters are a joy to read…the author has left nothing out in their development. My only problem (and it’s a good one to have) is that I have so many books to read…now I have another series to delve into.  4 Stars  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

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About the Author

I’m Candace Robb, a writer/historian engaged in creating fiction about the late middle ages with a large cast of characters with whom I enjoy spending my days. Two series, the Owen Archer mysteries and the Kate Clifford mysteries, are set in late medieval York. The Margaret Kerr trilogy is set in early 14th century Scotland, at the beginning of the Wars of Independence. Two standalone novels (published under pseudonym Emma Campion) expand on the lives of two women in the court of King Edward III who have fascinated me ever since I first encountered them in history and fiction.

I am a dreamer. Writing, gardening, walking, dancing, reading, being with friends—there’s always a dreaming element.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER  | BOOKBUB

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Masters of Rome (Vespasian #5) by Robert Fabbri

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Britannia, 45 AD: Vespasian’s brother, Sabinus, is captured by druids. The druids want to offer a potent sacrifice to their gods – not just one Roman Legate, but two. They know that Vespasian will come after his brother and they plan to sacrifice the siblings on mid-summer’s day. But to whom will they be making this sacrifice? What were the gods of this land before the Celts came? Only the druids still hold the secret and it is one of pure malevolence.

Vespasian must strive to save his brother whilst completing the conquest of the south-west of the haunted isle, before he is drawn inexorably back to Rome and the heart of Imperial politics. Claudius’ three freedmen remain at the locus of power. As Messalina’s time as Empress comes to a bloody end, the three freedmen each back a different mistress. But which woman will be victorious? And at what price for Vespasian?

REVIEW

Due to circumstances beyond my control – well maybe I have some control – I have been subjected to a plethora of authors penning marvelous books, looking to me for reviews. In the long run, this is a good thing, but it has meant falling woefully behind, e.g. Robert Fabbri’s Vespasian series. On the plus side, Masters of Rome reminded me that I need to lessen the time before I read the next one. In this tale, or rather, two tales, Vespasian is wrapping up his time serving in Britannia (tale 1) and preparing to return to Rome to further his career (tale 2) The situation in Rome at the time – Messalina’s grasp for power – is what he returns to, as well as a devastating possibility that his brother Sabinus will be implicated in the assassination of Caligula.

The action is pulse pounding stuff…the characters are more than believable – the formidable Druids , the streetwise Magnus, a way more wicked Messalina than the Messalina of I, Claudius fame, and she was definitely wicked.  The political machinations of Narcissus, Pallas and Callistus…this story has it all and then some. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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The King’s Furies by Stephanie Churchill

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Not all enemies are visible.
Sometimes the most defiant ones exist only in the heart and mind.
The Defiler of Prille and his hound are dead, and the houses of Sajen and Vitus are united. With the birth of a new heir to the throne, peace settles over Agrius.
But it’s a fragile peace.
As King Casmir works to restore the former glory of his inheritance, rumors of betrayal and treachery reach the throne, threatening to shatter everything he has worked hard to achieve.
When old enemies surface, the rumors become real. Disaster strikes, plunging him into a darkness that feels palpable.
Many advisers step forward to help, but it’s never easy to determine friend from foe when it comes to the power around the throne.
Faced with the decision to forge his own path and stay true to his honor, or to become like his father, a man he despised, his bonds of unity are tested.
To the point of breaking.
What compromises will he make to secure the future of his family and his kingdom?
Will he lose both himself and the ones he loves?
Follow his journey into darkness.

REVIEW

As is somewhat evident in our world today, not all people react positively in the face of a changing political or social environment. This truth forms the basis for The King’s Furies as Casmir is beset with issues brought on by old enemies, and those resistant to, or adversely affected by the ban on slavery. The main characters in the series are put to the test in this pulse racing drama as they deal with the soul crushing events. The author has crafted a wonderful story…her characters are such that their pains, anxieties, and joys resonate with the reader. The plots against Casmir, insidious and seemingly unsolvable, bring out the worst in him and some surprising talents in Jack (I say no more, other than that he is more than just a blacksmith turned noble and friend to the King).

The King’s Furies is certainly a worthy addition to the series – a fantasy world, yet one that is easily recognizable as it could be a historical rendering of our past. A very real look at the ironic fact that no period of history is ever ‘peaceful’. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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The Turncoat by T.J. London

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After Captain John Carlisle’s dance with death, he’s retreated to the serenity of the Oneida village with his beloved Dellis McKesson, trying to hide from the inevitable truth: war is coming. But when duty calls, and John’s expertise is needed to negotiate a treaty between the Six Nations of the Iroquois and the Crown, he’ll once again be faced with a decision: his King or his conscience.

Many truths that have yet to be revealed, and a deal with the Devil made in desperation, threatens to ruin Dellis and John’s hard-won love. As ghosts of the past resurface, and bitter family rivalry exposes betrayal from those closest to her, Dellis is dragged down a devastating path to the truth of her parents’ murders.

Now, the die is cast as war comes to the Mohawk River Valley in the Summer of 1777. St. Leger and his native allies siege Fort Stanwix. They’re also plotting a secret attack that will force the Rebels and the Oneida to face off against the Crown and their allies, further dividing John’s loyalties, leaving him on the precipice of another decision: Rebel or Redcoat?

AVAILABLE IN EBOOK AND PAPERBACK

REVIEW

As with the first two books in the series, The Turncoat grabs you by the uniform lapels, pulls you in, and like a Dellis & John embrace, you never want to let go. An intense tale with an abundance of intriguing plot strands, woven together in an intricate pattern culminating in an attention grabbing tapestry. I cannot begin to tell you, my peeps and fellow travelers, how impressive a tale this is. The drama is unrelenting…the characters are an amazing collection of warts and foibles…the history is presented in a way that subtly educates as it entertains. The entire series kindled an array of feelings…some loathing of the exquisite nastiness displayed…and an abundance of respect and admiration for Dellis and John, despite their warts and foibles.

5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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About the Author

T.J. London is a rebel, liberal, lover, fighter, diehard punk, and pharmacist-turned-author who loves history. As an author her goal is to fill in the gaps, writing stories about missing history, those little places that are so interesting yet sadly forgotten. Her favorite time periods to write in are first and foremost the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the French and Indian War, the Russian Revolution and the Victorian Era. Her passions are traveling, writing, reading, barre, and sharing a glass of wine with her friends, while she collects experiences in this drama called life. She is a native of Metropolitan Detroit (but secretly dreams of being a Londoner) and resides there with her husband Fred and her beloved cat and writing partner Mickey.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away some fabulous prizes! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

1. A Signed copy of each of my Revolutionary books
2. A bag with my Revolutionary Author Logo
3. A Sterling Silver Tricorn hat charm, so you’re always in style
4. My favorite T-Shirt to wear when I write my Revolutionary tales, that says: The original New England Patriots, from 1630 in Boston
5. A stuffed founding father doll by Little Thinkers to inspire the Rebel in you
6. And a Founding Father book of quotes. Seditious banter from our brash Rebels!
Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

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Under Heaven (Under Heaven #1) by Guy Gavriel Kay

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Award-winning author Guy Gavriel Kay evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of 8th-century China in an masterful story of honor and power. 

It begins simply. Shen Tai, son of an illustrious general serving the Emperor of Kitai, has spent two years honoring the memory of his late father by burying the bones of the dead from both armies at the site of one of his father’s last great battles. In recognition of his labors and his filial piety, an unlikely source has sent him a dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses.

You give a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.

Wisely, the gift comes with the stipulation that Tai must claim the horses in person. Otherwise he would probably be dead already.

REVIEW

I know I should probably expect this, but once again I am blown away by Mr. Kay’s storytelling. After the death of his father, a famous general, Tai undertakes a Herculean task burying the dead on a distant and haunted battlefield. What results is a gift that changes everything, and forms the basis for an incredible tale. Like many, I suppose from a Western culture, I’ve always seen the East as mysterious and intriguing. Under Heaven showcases an Eastern empire, and the author has injected that sense of mystery and intrigue into a page turning wonder. The characters fit perfectly, the twists and turns of the plot flow seamlessly, the narrative has an atmospheric quality that pulls the reader into the pages. It is more than just a page turner. It is more like, “just one more chapter, I’ll skip breakfast in the morning.” 😊  5 stars

The Traitor: Book #2 The Rebels and Redcoats Saga by T.J. London

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Spy. Liar. Scoundrel. Redcoat.

Provocateur and spy for His Majesty, Captain John Carlisle returns to Fort Niagara with the secrets he stole in the arms of the beautiful Oneida innkeeper, Dellis McKesson. Determined to complete his mission and clear his name, he’ll see justice done—and damn the consequences. Now, he finds himself drawn into political intrigue as the British prepare to launch a three-pronged attack that will bring the Rebels and the Mohawk River Valley to its knees.

A dangerous revelation finds Dellis as whispers of intrigue insinuate her beloved is not all that he seems. Unwilling to wait for her lover’s return, she sets out in search of the truth as the Onieda begin negotiations with the Rebels, breaking the neutrality agreement with the crown. A bold move that will stoke a fire between the brother tribes and lead to a bloody inter-confederacy war—one Dellis predicted, and one John incited.

While war between the colonies and the King smolders, the punishing winter of 1777 allows the perfect opportunity for old enemies to settle scores, lying in wait, ready to exploit John’s one weakness—his heart. John is not an innocent man. The truth he’s long tried to hide from can no longer be ignored, the ghosts of the past seeking justice, and karma wanting payment for sins so dark they cannot be forgiven.

REVIEW

Well now, that was certainly an exciting read. There’s a song by the band Nightwish that includes the lyrics ‘weaving my wings with many colored yarns’. That sort of describes The Traitor as the author has woven a web of intrigue with many different strands; so many ways in which the story could go; so many times I had to pause and admire the creativity and chops to keep it all together; so many times I wanted to punch out a few of the characters (that, by the way, is a good thing – it means the author has me involved). 😊 An emotionally taut tale replete with strong characters (of varied temperaments and agendas), and a incisive look at the historical aspect of the story. The eventual breakup of the Iroquois Confederacy was fueled by the impossible choices the natives had before them as the British and the Colonists raced towards war. The author does a fine job in bringing that to light amid the turmoil and confusion; the heartbreak and loss; the truth and redemption. I am certainly looking forward to book 3, The Turncoat. 5 Stars

Odin’s Game (The Whale Road Chronicles Book 1) by Tim Hodkinson

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In the Orkney Isles, a young woman flees her home to save the life of her unborn child. Eighteen years later, a witch foretells that evil from her past is reaching out again to threaten her son.

Outlawed from his home in Iceland, Einar Unnsson is thrown on the mercy of his Uncle, the infamous Jarl Thorfinn ‘Skull Cleaver’ of Orkney. He joins forces with a Norse-Irish princess and a company of wolfskin-clad warriors to become a player in a deadly game for control of the Irish sea, where warriors are the pawns of kings and Jarls and the powerful are themselves mere game pieces on the tafl board of the Gods.

Together they embark on a quest where Einar must fight unimaginable foes, forge new friendships, and discover what it truly means to be a warrior.

As the clouds of war gather, betrayal follows betrayal and Einar realises the only person he can really trust is himself.

Not everyone will survive, but who will conquer all in Odin’s game?

REVIEW

Whenever I read or hear the name Odin, I almost inevitably am drawn back to a scene in the Tony Curtis/Kirk Douglas movie, The Vikings. Tony Curtis is tied to a pole anchored in a tide pool awaiting death by drowning, while an old woman (a volva) is praying in anguished cries, “ODIN”, seeking the god’s intervention. (Spoiler alert – Tony survives). In Odin’s Game, the god does not directly intercede, but he plays an integral part in the lives of those who are gifted by him. Einar is one of those upon whom Odin has bestowed his gifts. Odin’s Game is a wonderfully crafted tale of discovery, not only of Einar’s shrouded in mystery lineage, but also finding out who he was in the eyes of men and gods, and who he was meant to be.

Any tale that wants to set the hook and reel me in has to have characters who are not only well developed, and interesting, but they also have to get me emotionally involved. The author has created a bevy of well developed, interesting characters to help, or hinder, Einar on his travels, some of who produced, in me, positive vibes, some of who I loathed from the start. The story, while in the main is Einar’s search for identity, has some surprises along the way; twists and turns in the plot line giving the reader moments to pause and exclaim, “I didn’t see that coming”, or “I knew he was up to no good.’ Odin’s Game is an entertaining voyage along the Whale Road, and I for one am looking forward to more of Einar. 5 Stars

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About the author

Tim Hodkinson grew up in Northern Ireland where the rugged coast and call of the Atlantic ocean led to a lifelong fascination with vikings and a degree in Medieval English and Old Norse Literature. Apart from Old Norse sagas, Tim’s more recent writing heroes include Ben Kane, Giles Kristian, Bernard Cornwell, George RR Martin and Lee Child. After several years New Hampshire, USA, Tim has returned to Northern Ireland, where he lives with his wife and children.

Follow Tim:

Twitter: @TimHodkinson

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Go Down the Mountain by Meredith Battle

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Go Down the Mountain was inspired by the stories of the people who lost their homes to Shenandoah National Park in the 1930s. At once dramatic adventure, moving love story and recollection of a vanished life, the story follows mountain girl Bee on her harrowing journey to discover the truth about her family, living and dead.

Bee is a nervy, teenage beauty whose beloved father’s sudden death in a snake charming accident has left her alone with her abusive mother. Her one salvation is Miles, the big-city photographer who promises escape and a life full of the adventure she craves. But when Bee is caught in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with a government man who takes her family’s land and won’t stop until he claims her too, it may be Torch, the boy she grew up with on the mountain, who becomes the man she needs.

REVIEW

An out of the blue read and review request…I suppose my small contribution to the literary world does have its perks. I was, at first, intrigued by the locale of this novel, as I drive through the region often, but have always looked upon it as a repository for Civil War story fodder – the exploits of General Thomas Jackson or General Philip Sheridan. It is, however, the stories and lives of the ordinary folk and their daily struggle for existence that captured my attention in this riveting account of Depression Era Appalachia. The main character, Bee Livingston, is a feisty, resourceful, and totally captivating young woman caught in the throes of dispossession and the harsh reality of her family life. If any of my peeps and fellow travelers have seen the old John Wayne movie, Shepherd of the Hills, you may, as I did, sort of model Bee after Sammy, the young heroine in the movie. Written in a very engaging style, the tale flows nicely through the trials and tribulations of the Hollow folk facing eviction from their homes by an unfeeling, and downright cruel government. The author captures the essence of mountain culture, and reminds us that there are periods of our country’s history that aren’t too reflective of our stated ideals of justice and equality. An entertaining and informative tale awaits you, dear reader.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Eagle’s Vengeance (Empire #6) by Anthony Riches

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The Tungrian auxiliary cohorts return to Hadrian’s Wall after their successful Dacian campaign, only to find Britannia in chaos. The legions are overstretched, struggling to man the forts of the northern frontier in the face of increasing barbarian resistance.
The Tungrians are the only soldiers who can be sent into the northern wastes, far beyond the long abandoned wall built by Antoninus, where a lost symbol of imperial power of the Sixth Victorious Legion is reputed to await them. Protected by an impassable swamp and hidden in a fortress atop a high mountain, the eagle of the Sixth legion must be recovered if the legion is to survive.
Marcus and his men must penetrate the heart of the enemy’s strength, ghosting through a deadly wilderness patrolled by vicious huntresses before breaching the walls of the Fang, an all-but-impregnable fort, if they are to rescue the legion’s venerated standard. If successful their escape will be twice as perilous, with the might of a barbarian tribe at their heels.

REVIEW

One of the drawbacks to my humble skills as a book review scribe, and the numerous requests I receive to apply those humble skills, is that there is often a long gap in my reading of some of my favorite long running series’. Such is the case with Anthony Riches Empire series. It had been a couple years since I had read book 5, The Wolf’s Gold, and it dawned on me rather quickly while reading The Eagle’s Vengeance that waiting so long was a mistake. A pulsating adventure pitting Corvus and his Tungrian mates against remorseless foes, not only the painted warriors of northern Britannia, but also the plotting Praetorian Prefect. It’s an understatement to say that the action is exciting, or that the plot with its twists and turns keeps the reader turning the pages. The climatic ending, without any spoilers, is a bit frightening in its outcome, but it also sets up nicely the next volume in the series, The Emperor’s Knives, which by the way I will not wait a couple years to read. 😎  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐