Scars from the Past by Derek Birks

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Having enjoyed the author’s previous series about the Elder family, I was happy to find out that a new set of books featuring the Elders was being written.  I knew it would involve many new names and faces but was sure that the circumstances would be full of drama and intrigue and I was not mistaken or disappointed.  An imaginative tale with a relentless stream of action culminating in…well let’s just say the ending is full of surprises.  One of the characters who was an instrumental figure in the Feud books, and one of my favorite fictional characters, makes her presence known.  I am speaking of Eleanor Elder, a woman of many talents and one who will not be vanquished no matter how much is thrown at her, though her meddling does meet with some unexpected and most dire results.  A very satisfying new entry for Mr. Birks and a worthy successor to his Feud series, as he leads the reader into the lives of Ned Elder’s family; a family that just can’t seem to stay out of trouble.  4.3 stars and a hearty shout, “Long Live Eleanor”  🙂

Kin of Cain by Matthew Harffy

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First let me say thanks to the author and the fine folks at Aria for including this poor, humble scribe with the illustrious group of reviewers on this Blog Tour.  Since I am leading off this tour, I reckon it’s appropriate for me to announce, “Welcome, and now, on with the show.”

More Dark Age tale telling from the author of The Serpent Sword.  This time he weaves a story that is well known but puts his own twist on it, and in a manner that is both entertaining and foreshadowing.  The main character in this tale is the older brother of Beobrand, the hero of Matthew Harffy’s excellent Bernicia Chronicles series.  Octa becomes part of the group of warriors chosen to ferret out and kill a night stalking monster wreaking havoc among the common folk.  As he has done in the full length  tales, Mr. Harffy brings to vivid life the ethos of a dark age warrior; the fealty owed when oathsworn, the bonding between fellow sword brothers, the ale hall boasting.  The quest to find the monster is emotion and action packed.  A boggy, misty, fen land can play with a man’s mind, so too can facing the limits of one’s endurance in a very trying situation.  Unrelenting drama unfolds as the warriors close in on their quarry and not a few surprises make their task that much more interesting.  I enjoyed learning a little about Beobrand’s big brother and the sword that plays such a large part in his tale. 4.7 stars and a Hoover Book Review’s coveted “Job well done” acclamation.  🙂

 

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Blurb:

AD 630. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical tale set in the world of The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Winter grips the land in its icy fist. Terror stalks the hills, moors and marshes of Bernicia. Livestock and men have been found ripped asunder, their bones gnawed, flesh gorged upon. People cower in their halls in fear of the monster that prowls the night.

King Edwin sends his champions, Bassus, Octa and band of trusted thegns, to hunt down the beast and to rid his people of this evil.

Bassus leads the warriors into the chill wastes of the northern winter, and they soon question whether they are the hunters or the prey. Death follows them as they head deeper into the ice-rimed marshes, and there is ever only one ending for the mission: a welter of blood that will sow the seeds of a tale that will echo down through the ages.

 

Author info:

 

Matthew grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline had a huge impact on him He now lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.

 

 

Pre-order links

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lqNXhW

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2lr4mTa

iBooks: http://apple.co/2kRcU2r

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2kxbbDm

 

 

Follow Matthew

 

Website: www.matthewharffy.com

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: MatthewHarffyAuthor

 

 

Follow Aria

 

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Facebook: @ariafiction

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

NetGalley: http://bit.ly/2lkKB0e

Sign up to the Aria newsletter: http://bit.ly/2jQxVtV

 

 

The Fire and the Light by Glen Craney

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I found myself in unfamiliar territory regarding location, time and subject while reading The Fire and the Light, not that that is a bad thing.  The 13th Century is not my normal reading period, French history is not my usual subject and the Albigensian Crusade is just a distant history lesson long since forgotten.  What I found in picking up this book is a marvelous story by Mr. Craney.  He has taken the bits and pieces of this historical event and has crafted a tale worthy enough to be thought of as actual history, rather than fiction.  The characters are superbly written, from the spiritual leader of the Cathars, Esclarmonde, to the dastardly members of the Church seeking to destroy her and her band of heretics.  The emotions and the conflicts engendered by the Cathar beliefs are true high points in the narrative; the giving up of everything, including those you love, the willingness to die for those beliefs, the extreme suffering endured…all of this and more kept me enthralled and entertained throughout the tale.  Once again, I found myself immersed in a setting so brutally real that I would put the book down for a bit, catch my breath before returning to it.  4.7 stars and a Hoover Book Review “Highly Recommended Award”

 

 

Blood of the Wolf – Forest Lord 4 by Steven A. McKay

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Robin has been pardoned, he is no longer an outlaw; indeed he is even working for the law now.  He is reunited with his wife and son.  Life is good, Robin should be a happy man.  But alas, conflicted feelings about his job and how harmful the enforcement of the law can be and increasing  tension at home rears over his job as well.  The finale of this engrossing set of tales brings together Robin and what’s left of his old gang to pursue and destroy an enemy who is out for revenge against them.  Plus there is another old score waiting to be settled by a most loathsome churchman.  Taut, tense and full of action and surprises, Mr. McKay gives the reader an entertaining and fitting end to his Robin Hood series.  My only, well, make that two complaints, is that the tension in some spots is such that I had to put the book down and take a breath or two (not that this is a bad thing)..and two –  that the series is done.  I commend the author on how he brings it to a close…that’s all I will say about that…you need to read it to find out.  🙂  5 stars and the highly sought after Hoover Book Reviews – “You Gotta Read This Series” award.

 

The Last Shroud by Derek Birks

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This quote is from my review of book 3 in the series: “When I read book 1, Feud, I enjoyed it and felt that the Elder clan was nothing if not resilient in the face of turmoil and trouble,  When I read book 2, A Traitor’s Fate, I enjoyed it even more and felt that the Elder clan couldn’t possibly stand much more in the way of turmoil and trouble. I have finished book 3, Kingdom of Rebels, and really enjoyed it and am convinced that the Elder clan has reached the limit of human endurance and could use a little peace and quiet”    From the first few pages of The Last Shroud, it was apparent that peace and quiet were not in the cards.  The author has delivered another tension filled entry into this entertaining series.  The characters have been fully developed by now; Ned especially has changed from his younger ‘headlong into the fray’ into one who has seen, and done enough violence and death but is still a formidable part in the struggle to keep his King on the throne and to protect his family; a family of some amazing women, particularly his sister Eleanor.  I know I said that Ned protects his family but in Eleanor’s case, it seems that sometimes she needs protecting from herself.  Willful, headstrong, stubborn; these do not begin to describe this most remarkable woman, one of my favorite fictional characters and that says a lot given how much I read.  🙂  This is also one of my favorite series; one of those that merits my having to put the book down for a bit, take a deep breath and mutter “Holy Crap” or some such utterance.  Now that the series is finished I look forward to not only reading it again sometime in the future but am chomping at the bit for Mr. Birks’ next project.  Phew, the finale of book 4 is intense just like the total package.  5 stars and a Hoover Book Review “You all gotta read this!”

 

Days of Sun and Glory by Anna Belfrage

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A taut thriller of a sequel awaits you, my peeps and fellow travelers.  Kit and Adam find themselves in a precarious position as Hugh Despenser continues his vengeful hatred of them while they are now members of the Royal Court.  Toss in an heir to the throne who is being played by his parents as they seek to control him for the future, mix in a bitter feud between King and Queen and vigorously stir in the Mortimer plot to overthrow the King.  The result is a marvelously crafted, character driven tale of anguish, hope, fear and bravery.  The author has the reader guessing throughout the book what the outcome of these events will be, even though the reader may know the end from history.  That, my friends, is what makes a great read; at least to this humble scribbler of reviews.  4.8 stars

 

For King and Country by Charlene Newcomb

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Oh what a tangled web Charlene Newcomb has weaved in the second installment of Battle Scars.  The Crusaders have returned home to England without King Richard who languishes as a ‘guest’ of his enemies on the continent.  For King and Country tells the tale of how Henry, Stephan and Robin deal with the turmoil being fomented by Prince John and his grab for the English throne.  Well, that’s the main plot and it is supported by a myriad of sub-plots and those are what make this book a real winner.  The relationships, those sought after, and those that are eventually realized bear witness to the author’s ability to reach into the human heart; to make the anguish, the joys, the sorrows, leap from the page while shes ties the threads of the web together.  Strong characters, vivid detail and an interesting take on the Robin Hood mythology make this page turning adventure a joy to read.  5 stars