Commodus (The Damned Emperors #2) by Simon Turney

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Rome is enjoying a period of stability and prosperity. The Empire’s borders are growing, and there are two sons in the imperial succession for the first time in Rome’s history.

But all is not as it appears. Cracks are beginning to show. Two decades of war have taken their toll, and there are whispers of a sickness in the East. The Empire stands on the brink of true disaster, an age of gold giving way to one of iron and rust, a time of reason and strength sliding into hunger and pain.

The decline may yet be halted, though. One man tries to hold the fracturing empire together. To Rome, he is their emperor, their Hercules, their Commodus.

But Commodus is breaking up himself, and when the darkness grips, only one woman can hold him together. To Rome she was nothing. The plaything of the emperor. To Commodus, she was everything. She was Marcia.

REVIEW

Well now, that was certainly not the Commodus from Gladiator. Once again, Mr. Turney has taken on myth and misconception, and has brought forth a fascinating look at one of the more enigmatic of the Roman emperors. As in his other novels, the author relies on his ability to glean from contemporary sources those facts or myths, and turn them into a page turning (and to this burgeoning author), mind boggling tale that grabs the reader’s attention from page one, word one, and does not relent in it’s grip. Written from the perspective of Marcia, the narrative is rich in detail, poignant in its telling, and once again left this reader amazed at the creative talent of the author. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Across the Great Divide: Book 1 The Clouds of War by Michael Ross

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Lexington, Kentucky, 1859. After saving John Hunt Morgan from a puma attack, fifteen-year-old farm boy Will Crump joins Hunt’s militia, the Lexington Rifles. Morgan mentors Will and enrolls him in the local university, where he hopes to study law. As tensions rise between the North and South, Will is torn between his loyalty to Morgan and his love for his family. Will’s father, sisters, and sweetheart follow the Union, while Morgan and Will commit to the South. As part of Morgan’s band, Will participates in ambushes and unconventional warfare until his first real battle at Shiloh. He fights bravely, but increasingly questions what the war is accomplishing, and whether his devotion to honor has led him astray. And where is God in all this killing?

Will’s sister Albinia, friend of the Clay family, becomes increasingly aware of the plight of the slaves. When she finds Luther, a slave she knows, trying to escape, she must decide between her conscience, and her friends. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to freedom – but will it cost her love and her freedom?

Will’s other sister, Julia, is approaching spinster status and despairs of ever meeting a man who can give her more than life on a farm until she meets Hiram Johannsen, a son of immigrants who owns a steamship company. They marry and she makes a new life in the North. When Hiram answers the call to fight for the North, Julia runs the steamboat company in her husband’s absence and uses her boats to help Albinia ferry escaped slaves to freedom. Her business relations put her in the perfect position to spy for the North. When the Confederates capture her, will she survive?

Luther is one of the first slaves Albinia helps flee the South after his master cruelly abuses his mother and sister. He escapes with his family, and when war breaks out, he fights for the North as an auxiliary of the Third Ohio Cavalry, alongside Julia’s husband, Hiram, and against Morgan and Will. Luther has to confront the demons of his past, an abusive master, and a slave catcher that kills his little sister. Will the desire for revenge destroy him?

Throughout the war, Will is forced to examine and question everything he believes in—his faith in God, his love for his family, his loyalty to Morgan, and his worth as a human being.

Will and his family must somehow mend the torn fabric of relationships to find peace, and reach Across the Great Divide.

REVIEW

An emotionally charged tale reflecting the divisive times of The Civil War. With the ‘neutral’ state of Kentucky as the backdrop, the author paints a vivid picture of life and issues confronting his characters. The issues involved are meticulously described – slavery, states rights, the North as invaders, the Underground Railroad – a story told from the perspective of the people who are faced with impossible decisions and see their lives ripped apart by the storm of war.  Strong characters, a steady flowing narrative, and intriguing story lines following the Crump family and associates make this a definite page turning tale.

4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

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Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three children, and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of 39 years. Michael graduated from Rice University and Portland State University. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. He’s written short stories and technical articles in the past. “Across the Great Divide: Book 1 The Clouds of War” is his first novel.

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SIGIRIYA: A Tale of Grandeur, Love and Tragedy by Senani Ponnamperuma

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Palace intrigue, passion, deceit, betrayal, and tragedy—this is the story of King Kasyapa and his beloved Sigiriya. Born of a village girl and a warrior king, he is denied the crown because of his inferior birth – but is forced to become king. Accused of murdering his father, he abandons his capital and builds a new city in the inhospitable forests of Sri Lanka. There, he lives in a spectacular sky palace atop a massive rock two hundred meters high.

It is also the story of Amira, a beautiful girl from Afghanistan who is only twelve years old when she is sold into slavery. At eighteen, she is traded for a hundred pearls from Sri Lanka. Arriving at her new home, she is trained as a concubine in Kasyapa’s harem and becomes his favorite consort.

Set fifteen hundred years ago, this spellbinding novel weaves historical facts into a remarkably entertaining story of fate, dangerous alliances, enduring friendships, and forbidden love.

REVIEW

An engaging tale of a place that I am not well versed in; an exotic, mysterious land, and a story that is timeless throughout the history of mankind. Born with the stigma of a commoner for a mother, and yet the son of a king, Kasyapa finds himself propelled into a position he was not born to, the kingship. The author has produced a story of love, ambition, and palace intrigue; one that flows easily and allows the reader to enjoy the beauty and splendor of the land, and to become immersed in Kasyapa’s struggles, triumphs, and dreams. Prepare yourselves, my fellow readers, to travel to an ancient land, to be entertained, and to wonder in awe at Sigiriya. 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Katharina Fortitude by Margaret Skea

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Eagerly-awaited conclusion to Katharina Deliverance – Runner-up in the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2018.

‘Beautifully written and meticulously researched – historical fiction at its best.’ BooksPlease
Fans of Hilary Mantel, C J Sansom and Winston Graham will love this book.

‘We are none of us perfect, and a streak of stubbornness is what is needed in dealing with a household such as yours, Kat… and with Martin.’

Wittenberg 1525. The unexpected marriage of Martin Luther to Katharina von Bora has no fairytale ending.

A sign of apostasy to their enemies, and a source of consternation to their friends, it sends shock waves throughout Europe.

Yet, as they face persecution, poverty, war, plague and family tragedy, Katharina’s resilience and strength of character shines through.

While this book can be read as a standalone, it is also the powerful conclusion to her story, begun in Katharina: Deliverance.

If you like your historical Fiction to be authentic, immersive and packed with drama, this book is for you.

REVIEW

One of the aspects of historical fiction that I look for in my reading is authenticity where the history is concerned coupled with fiction that could very well be part of the actual history being told.  In Katharina Fortitude, the author has created just such a narrative. The struggles to keep hearth and home together are daunting enough given the obstacles and the emotional toil that Kat faces, and on top of all of that she is married to an unrelenting, firebrand reformation theologian who is prone to irascible outbursts at any perceived deviation to his reformed beliefs. That is the Martin Luther she married, but what I really love about this story is the way Martin is portrayed when not dealing with his ‘calling’. His tenderness, the joy he exhibits with his children, the way he gradually succumbs to Kat’s industriousness, and sharpness of mind. It is a captivating tale that reaches into your heart; an emotional journey of love and loss.  5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Passage by Prue Batten

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Meeting Alex Tremayne changed Annie’s life.
Losing him through a shocking farm accident shattered her.

Passage is the story of one woman, Annie Tremayne, and her journey through grief.
After Annie loses Alex, her husband and soulmate, she withdraws into the state of solitude that has always been her refuge.

Unsure how to move forward, she leans on Blighty, her bizarre little Jack Russell terrier for comfort, wishfully encountering the spirit of her late husband and craving the dry wit and understanding of her French friend, Lisette.

Amongst the raw beauty of Tasmania’s east coast, Annie discovers stalwart friends where she thought she had none and, ever so occasionally, there are glimmers of what could be.
With the help of feisty Blighty, her husband’s earthy wisdom, and the glaring honesty and wit of Lisette, Annie begins the journey back from sorrow.

Will she reach the other side?
Maybe only her diverse companions know…

REVIEW

I know that in every review I’ve written about the books by Prue Batten, I have waxed effusively on the beauty of her prose; the eloquence, the spot on emotions, narrative descriptions that linger, like the smell and sound of the sea, and so on. So it might seem ironic that my favorite sentence in Passage is this:

‘You know what, Blighty?’ she mumbled into his coarse fur. ‘Life is such shit sometimes.’

Then again, maybe not so ironic when taken in context. Passage is a one the most poignant stories I have read in a long time. The coming to terms with grief for Annie is a grueling passage, and the author has given her an eloquent, heartrending tale to tell. A highlight feature, for me, is Annie’s conversations with her recently deceased husband, Alex. The give and take between them is priceless and helps set the tone for dealing with the other people in her life…a new way of understanding the events..a new way of understanding herself.

So, my peeps and fellow readers, Hoover Book Reviews gives it 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐, and it’s highest recommendation…

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Editor’s note:

Yeah, I know it says historical fiction on the Paulitzer, but hey, like I said I don’t read contemporary fiction very often, and this is the only Paulitzer currently in stock. 😁

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

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#QuestfortheCrownofThorns #CynthiaRipleyMiller #HFVBTBlogTours 
 
Twitter tags: @CRipleyMiller @hfvbt  
 

Facebook tags: @cynthiaripleymiller @hfvbt

 

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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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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