The Blood of Princes (The Craft of Kings #2) by Derek Birks

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A savage tale of love, treason and betrayal.
A bloody struggle for power at the heart of the royal court.

In April 1483, the sudden death of King Edward IV brings his 12 year old son to the throne.
Restless young lord and ex-mercenary John Elder is newly-appointed to the service of Edward, Prince of Wales, and charged with the boy’s safety. His first task, escorting the new king to London for his coronation, seems a simple one but the accession of a boy king raises concerns among the leading noblemen of the land.
As old jealousies and feuds are rekindled, the new king’s uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, seizes control and plunges the kingdom into crisis. But is Gloucester young Edward’s enemy, or saviour?
While John, outlawed and trapped, must wait to see how events unfold, other members of the battle-scarred Elder family are drawn, one by one, into his conspiracy. Soon they are mired so deep in the murky underbelly of London society, that there seems no hope of escape from the tangle of intrigue and murder.
In the end, all lives will hang upon the outcome of a daring incursion into the Tower of London itself.

REVIEW

I’m of the opinion that if you Google the phrase “adrenaline rush”, you should be directed to a page describing Derek Birks’ fictional 15th century family, The Elders. Throughout the tales in both the Rebels and Brothers series, and in the Craft of Kings, the reader is treated to intense emotional upheaval, traumatizing losses, hopeless situations; and yet the Elders persevere in the face of all the changes and challenges. I may have stated in my review of one of the prior books, that Eleanor Elder is at the top of a long list of my favorite fictional characters…after reading The Blood of Princes, I now have to add Lady Margaret Elder (Meg).

It’s tough enough being proclaimed an ‘outlaw’. Now, John Elder faces impossible tasks,.. keeping his family intact, rescuing Tower imprisoned Princes of the Realm, and by the way, staying alive. Book 2 is a certified roller-coaster ride through the transition from Edward IV to his son; but wait, there’re more contestants to the throne, more loyalties tested, more oaths sworn or forsaken, and a whole lot more danger to life and limb. The author has once again delivered the entire package, so dear reader, fasten your seat belts. The adrenaline is about to start coursing through your veins.  5 stars

 

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The Alchemist of Lost Souls (Bianca Goddard Mysteries, #4) by Mary Lawrence

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A dangerous element discovered by Bianca Goddard’s father falls into the wrong hands . . . leading to a chain of multiple murders.

Spring 1544 Now that she is with child, Bianca is more determined than ever to distance herself from her unstable father. Desperate to win back the favor of King Henry VIII, disgraced alchemist Albern Goddard plans to reveal a powerful new element he’s discovered–one with deadly potential. But when the substance is stolen, he is panicked and expects his daughter to help.

Soon after, a woman’s body is found behind the Dim Dragon Inn, an eerie green vapor rising from her breathless mouth. To her grave concern, Bianca has reason to suspect her own mother may be involved in the theft and the murder. As her husband John is conscripted into King Henry’s army to subdue Scottish resistance, Bianca must navigate a twisted and treacherous path among alchemists, apothecaries, chandlers, and scoundrels–to find out who among them is willing to kill to possess the element known as lapis mortem, the stone of death . . .

REVIEW

I’ve read a few novels that take place during the reign of Henry VIII, and have watched the Tudor series on Netflix.  The Alchemist of Lost Souls (and the earlier books in the Bianca Goddard series) is a definite departure from the Royal Court and the mercurial antics of Henry. The author paints a vivid picture of life in the least desirable haunts of London and the precarious and often violent existence of the folk who live there. Colorful characters abound in this fascinating mystery, and what is especially nice is their usage of the language of the times, the idioms, the curses, the names etc,etc. I was captured from page one, the ongoing mystery with many twists and turns, surprises, and a peculiar denizen of the Thames, The Rat Man. The main character, Bianca, daughter of an alchemist, finds herself enmeshed in solving a series of crimes that have implications involving friends and family, all the while experiencing her first pregnancy, with her husband away with Henry’s army. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this wonderfully descriptive, and creative tale. The only problem is that this is book four of the series, and now I have to go back and read the first three.  Oh wait, that’s not a problem, that’s three future treats for me to devour. 🙂  5 stars

 

 

Lord of Emperors (The Sarantine Mosaic #2) by Guy Gavriel Kay

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Beckoned by the Emperor Valerius, Crispin, a renowned mosaicist, has arrived in the fabled city of Sarantium. Here he seeks to fulfill his artistic ambitions and his destiny high upon a dome that will become the emperor’s magnificent sanctuary and legacy.

But the beauty and solitude of his work cannot protect his from Sarantium’s intrigue. Beneath him the city swirls with rumors of war and conspiracy, while otherworldly fires mysteriously flicker and disappear in the streets at night. Valerius is looking west to Crispin’s homeland to reunite an Empire — a plan that may have dire consequences for the loved ones Crispin left behind.

In Sarantium, however, loyalty is always complex, for Crispin’s fate has become entwined with that of Valerius and his Empress, as well as Queen Gisel, his own monarch exiled in Sarantium herself. And now another voyager — this time from the east — has arrived, a physician determined to make his mark amid the shifting, treacherous currents of passion and violence that will determine the empire’s fate.

REVIEW

An intricate tale, as I have come to expect from Mr. Kay, full of interwoven strands, ironic circumstances, and an amazing array of characters. The full range of personalities, ambitions, hopes and dreams permeate the pages beckoning the reader into the very souls of the players. Take it from this humble scribe, but Holy Jad, Guy Gavriel Kay can sure spin a yarn.  5 Stars

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The Dane Law by Garth Pettersen

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After a peaceful year running their Frisian estate, Harald and Selia are called to Engla-lond.

Their return is marked by violence and intrigue. The king has vowed to Queen Emma that their son, Harthacnute, will inherit the throne, but the atheling is cruel and reckless. Many view Harald as the better choice, which makes him a target for the unseen supporters of his half-brother. King Cnute urges Harald to be prepared to assume the throne should Harthacnute prove inadequate. Harald resists being swept up by forces beyond his control, but doubts he will survive the reign of King Hartha.

And what of his older brother, Sweyn?

REVIEW

Oh, the lengths one will go to if one longs for the crown, either for them self or their progeny. The Dane Law, as the blurb indicates, is the story of King Cnute’s sons and the tough decision to choose his successor. Well, that’s the main plot.  The author has crafted a tale that is so much more than that. It is also a love story, a story of determination and survival, a story of the duplicitous nature that is a royal court.  And, oh what a duplicitous lot of characters we have, my peeps.  Mind you, not all of the main characters are shady, unscrupulous, and single minded, but they sure make for an interesting, enjoyable, entertaining read.  Of the many things that I have found over the years that I’ve been reading and reviewing books, is the utmost pleasure derived from well developed characters, and The Dane Law certainly fulfills that criteria.  Of course, I felt like punching out the evildoer or at least screaming at their evil deeds and intentions, a sure sign that the author has done their job. 🙂

Another aspect of The Dane Law that, as a historian, I really appreciated was the use of  contemporary spellings of names and places. To me that reinforces the whole idea that England has such a long and varied history, and how that place evolved over the centuries to become what is is today, and the many other cultures influenced by that evolution. I might not know how to pronounce some of the names and places, however, I enjoy reading them all the same.  So, my dear reader prepare for a far flung adventure that has one turning pages in anticipation of what comes next in this tale, a lead up event to the Godwinson/William confrontation.  5 stars

The Tory by T.J. London

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THE TORY BY T.J. LONDON

Publication Date: April 11, 2018
Peperback & eBook; 517 Pages

Series: The Rebels and Redcoats Saga, Book #1
Genre: Historical Fiction

It is the winter of 1776, and Captain John Carlisle, one of His Majesty’s not-so-finest, has gone back to the scene of the crime to right a wrong so dark it left a permanent stain on what was once an illustrious career and left a man broken, defeated, in search of justice…

In an effort to win back his commission, he must discover the true nature of the relationship between the Six Nations of the Iroquois and the Colonial Army. Undercover as a war profiteer, John travels to the treacherous Mohawk River Valley and infiltrates local society, making friends with those he’s come to betray.

But a chance meeting with a beautiful half Oneida innkeeper, whose tragic history is integrally linked to his own, will provide him with the intelligence he needs to complete his mission—and devastate her people.

Now, as the flames of war threaten to consume the Mohawk Valley, John has the chance to not only serve King and country, but to clear his name. When the truth he uncovers ties his own secrets to those in the highest positions of the British military and threatens the very life of the woman he’s come to love, he will be forced to make a choice…

“The pages fly as you immerse yourself in this fantastic adventure.” – RT Book Review

MY REVIEW

At first I was slightly hesitant about reading this book, at least for the time being, as I am in the process of writing my own novel set during the American Revolution. However, once I determined that the subject matter for The Tory was sufficiently different from mine, my reticence disappeared. Besides, the author and I share hometowns, so how could I say no.  🙂

I  was riveted to this tale from the beginning; a different look at the Revolution, one that takes place on the frontier and features the involvement of the Iroquois Confederacy; especially the tribe that sided with the colonists, The Oneida. I can’t say enough about the emotional suffering, mental anguish, and physical trauma that the two main protagonists endure in this tense drama. There are many sub-plots that are seamlessly weaved into the narrative that highlight the very complicated, increasingly dangerous situation facing John and Dellis. It is, boys and girls, a page turning tale, though I did stop once in a while to catch my breath.  🙂  Meticulously researched, engaging subject matter, and best of all, a tale that will continue in the sequel, The Traitor, I think you will thoroughly enjoy The Tory.  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.

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 3 sets of both books in Paperback, 3 sets of both books in eBook, and a $50 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to readers in the US & Canada only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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War King – Hakon’s Saga Book 3 by Eric Schumacher

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WAR KING BY ERIC SCHUMACHER

Publication Date: October 15, 2018
Creativia Publishing
eBook; 279 Pages
ASIN: B07GT3DB13

Series: Hakon’s Saga, Book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction/Vikings

It is 954 A.D. and a tempest is brewing in the North. Twenty summers before, Hakon Haraldsson wrested Norway’s throne from his murderous brother, Erik Bloodaxe, but he failed to rid himself of Erik’s family. Now the sons of Erik have come to reclaim Erik’s realm and avenge the wrong done to their father and their kin.

They do not come alone. With them marches an army of sword-Danes sent by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth, whose desire to expand his realm is as powerful as the lust for vengeance that pulses in the veins of Erik’s brood.

Like storm-driven waves, the opposing forces collide in War King, the action-packed sequel to God’s Hammer and Raven’s Feast.

Review

Having read and enjoyed the first two books of this trilogy, I was very much looking forward to the finale.  I was not disappointed. This is a tale full of irony, as well as the full force of life in a brutal, and oft confusing time. Hakon had been warned and counseled to kill the sons of Eric Bloodaxe, but he refused to do it, wanting to end the blood feud. Well, that didn’t work out too well, as they came seeking vengeance and glory.

The historical record of Hakon and his struggles to keep his kingdom is sparse, leaving the author with plenty of room to be creative, which he does in a most entertaining fashion. The battles are full of the bluster, the camaraderie, the smells, the screams, the dying, and the glory of victories. The lives of the people, their struggles to survive, the oaths they have sworn, the harsh conditions one finds in the Northland, as well as it’s beauty are perfect backdrops to the cares, happiness, love, and soul searching which permeate Hakon’s life. All in all, a fitting end to the story of an enigmatic Norse King, a man seeking peace in a world where peace is fleeting, and often short-lived.  5 stars

AVAILABLE AT AMAZON

Praise for the Hakon’s Saga

“I was swept up in the action and enthralled by the descriptions of Hakon’s struggle.” -Roundtable Reviews

“I highly recommend this historical fiction novel, both for its entertaining story and historical information.” -Historical Fiction Review-

“A story of war, family, sacrifice, honor … one that keeps your blood pumping and your fingers turning pages rapidly. I can’t wait to dig into the next.” -Goodreads Review

About the Author

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Eric Schumacher was born in Los Angeles in 1968 and currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, two children and dog. He is the author of two historical fiction novels, God’s Hammer and its sequel, Raven’s Feast. Both tell the story of the first Christian king of Viking Norway, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to gain and hold the High Seat of his realm.

More information on Eric and his Hakon Sagas can be found on his website. You can also connect with Eric on TwitterFacebookGoodreads, and AuthorsDB.

 

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The Senator’s Assignment by Joan E. Histon

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The Senator’s Assignment by Joan E Histon

Paperback: 272 pages

  • Publisher:Top Hat Books (26 Oct. 2018)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1785358553
  • ISBN-13:978-1785358555

 

BLURB: Being trusted by a Caesar makes him an enemy of the Roman who crucified Jesus Christ, and puts him under threat from Rome itself Rome 30 AD. A Senator is plunged into the dark heart of the Roman Empire, sent to investigate the corrupt practices of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem by Caesar Tiberius. In this tense historical thriller can Senator Vivius Marcianus outmanoeuvre charges of treason, devastating secrets resurfaced from his own troubled past, and the political snake pit of Rome to save himself and the woman he loves?

REVIEW: 

It’s one thing to be given a mission from Tiberius himself, it’s quite another when that mission is to find proof of treason on none other than Aelius Sejanus. The protagonist in this lively tale, Senator Vivius Marcianus, intelligent, thoughtful, resourceful – all qualities he needs to survive the shrewd, calculating Pilate and his equally conniving wife while in Palestine, and the ensnaring tentacles of Sejanus while in Rome. This particular rendition of Sejanus, his unfettered lust for power, is worthy of Sir Patrick Stewart’s portrayal in I, Claudius.  The environs of Rome and various Palestine locations, ripe with the smells, discordant with the noise, pulsing with intrigue, provide a perfect backdrop to the events, and activities Vivius endures in an ever deepening, and dangerous mission. A splendid, entertaining tale – another glimpse into the Tiberius/Sejanus relationship.

4 stars

 

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Joan Histon has a background as a professional counsellor. She began her writing career as a ghost writer when two clients expressed an interest in telling their own dramatic stories.

After the publication of Thy Will be Done… Eventually! and Tears in the Dark, she was commissioned to write the true story of ‘The Shop on Pilgrim Street’. Having also published short stories in several national magazines, The Senator’s Assignment is Joan’s debut novel.

As well as writing, Joan is a Methodist local preacher, a gifted story-teller, spiritual director, mother and a reluctant gardener. She lives in Hexham, Northumberland with her husband, Colin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St.John

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  A fascinating tale of the period when England said goodbye to the Tudors and hello to the Stuarts. The protagonist, Lucy, grows up in a household where she is treated with contempt by her guardian and by her scheming sister Barbara. In a time when women had very little say in their futures and where the intricate, backstabbing antics of the Royal Court, Lucy struggles to survive.  Married to an important member of the King’s retinue of courtiers, she finds herself living in the infamous Tower of London, the wife of the Tower Gaoler.

The author paints a vivid picture of life in the early 17th century. I was drawn in by the descriptive, and indeed the educative nature that arises from the pages. Lucy, a woman, dares to formulate and even more daring, lets her opinions known. It was indeed a world dominated by men of noble birth, not very unlike the world we live in now(substitute rich for noble). In Lucy’s words, “I so tire of these court behaviors, where the men who rule think only of their own affairs and not of those of the citizens of this land.” Words that I utter every day.

I chose to read this book not knowing much of the period, at least not from the perspective of the court of King James and his son Charles. I now know a lot more, and if there is one thing I love to do is to learn history. If I can do that and be entertained along the way, then so much the better. The author has done those things while at the same time preparing the way for a sequel. After all of the pain, anguish, fear, and even the joys of her life, Lucy emerges as one of the more interesting characters I have come across in my historical-fiction reading. 5 stars

Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton

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BLURB: A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.

In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.

Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life.  A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.

Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bones Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of who we are as a species. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.

Alternating between ancient and modern timelines, the story unfolds through the experiences of two unique characters:  One is a shaman, the sole surviving adult of her tribe who is braving a hazardous journey of migration, the other a dedicated scientist living a comfortable if troubled existence in London, who is on her own mission of discovery. 

The two are connected not only by a set of archaic remains but by a sense of destiny – and their desire to shape it. Both are pioneers, women of passion, grit and determination, although their day to day lives could not be more different. One lives moment by moment, drawing on every scrap of courage and ingenuity to keep herself and her infant daughter alive, while the other is absorbed by work, imagination and regret. Each is isolated and facing her own mortal dangers and heart-rending decisions, but each is inspired by the power of the life force and driven by love. 

Bone Lines stands alone as a novel but also marks the beginning of the intended ‘Children of Sarah’ series.

REVIEW

Anthropology has always fascinated me. During the early 1970’s  when I was in college, I focused on two subjects – ancient history and physical anthropology, so I was immediately drawn to the subject matter in Bone Lines. The finding of Sarah and the speculation that she might have been migrating back to Africa because of a natural occurring climate change event is the focal point of Bone Lines and really caught my interest (I surprised myself in that I actually understood the scientific portions of the tale after all these years – a testament to the descriptive ability of the author). It is a very well thought out tale full of surprises while at the same time giving the reader some interesting ideas and thoughts to ponder. I especially enjoyed Eloise’s letters to Charles Darwin – lots of soul searching and mind expanding going on in those. All in all, an enjoyable read featuring two strong female protagonists; a speculative look at life on earth 74,000 years ago – an earth in the throes of a volcanic winter; and the emotional/mental turmoil of a gifted but troubled scientist.

5 stars

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Who do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast

Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.

Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)

 

Website: http://www.stephaniebretherton.com/

Twitter : @BrethertonWords

Instagram: @brethertonwords2

 

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Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army by Edoardo Albert

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A delightful tale of a rather unusual monk and his attempts to get rich while avoiding the Danish horde that is running roughshod over Britain. Conrad is a schemer, always ready with a plan; which is a good thing as his plans have a way of not going according to plan. His companion, Brother Odo, a very devout monk, unwavering in his faith in God and in Conrad’s plan(s), provides much of the mirth while also provoking sympathy from the reader. The author has crafted an entertaining version of the Danes – the sons of Ragnar; Ivarr, Ubba, and Halfdan – and the eventual clash with Aethelred and Alfred. I particularly enjoy historical-fiction when the historical events are written in such a way that the fictional aspect; the interaction of the fictional characters with the historical, the way that the story is tweaked to allow the reader to think, “Yeah, it could have happened that way.” Conrad Monk and The Great Heathen Army did just that while also sparking periodic chuckles and chortles from this amused reader.  4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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