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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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

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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Akela by Ryan Uytdewilligen

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Forrest Gump meets Woody Allen in this endearing story about a sea turtle seeking to be reunited with the love of his life.

When Akela is separated from his migrant soulmate, Kalea, he will do anything to be reunited with her. Journey with this charming and neurotic sea turtle as he crosses paths with celebrities, politicians, and other moments in history with unbreakable determination to be reunited with his love.

REVIEW

I wasn’t sure what to expect when the author requested that I read his novel about the travels and travails of a Green Sea Turtle, but the premise was intriguing. I mean how could I resist seeing 20th century American history through the eyes and thoughts of a sea going reptile? While that is a major theme running throughout the book, it’s the emotional experiences Akela goes through in this wonderfully creative take on humanity that pulled me in. Add in some entertaining characters, both human and animal (a couple of my favorites are a gator named Earl, and a group of vultures known as The Good Time Gang), and what transpires is part whimsical fantasy, and part poignant introspection. A journey full of expectations, dangers, surprises, and self-realizations await you dear reader, making for an enjoyable read. 4 stars

Belle o’ the Waters by Raima Larter

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Belle Waters is about to celebrate her fourteenth birthday, and she is terrified. The fear of marriage looms large for her, and every other girl who was born into the Mormon settlement of Salt Lake in the 1850s. She knows it is her duty to marry and bring Heavenly Father’s children into the world, but she’s not interested in tying the knot with anyone—especially not the Prophet, an old man with a number of wives and counting. But when the US Army invades Salt Lake intent on arresting the Prophet, Belle soon realizes that the possibility of becoming a child bride is only the beginning in a series of disastrous threats.

 

Belle o’ the Waters is a work of fiction, but is loosely based on a true historical event: the Mountain Meadows Massacre of September 11, 1857, which sparked a short-lived Mormon War. Although set over a century ago, the themes and issues explored in this novel are extremely relevant to the modern age: religious freedom and extremism, the role and status of women in society, and the contemporary impact of homegrown terrorism. Belle o’ the Waters is a searing exploration of those living within an oppressed community, and an ultimately revelatory novel about what it means to lead a courageous life, despite one’s circumstances.

 REVIEW

A fascinating tale of the courage of a young Mormon girl in the face of some pretty daunting circumstances. The author has crafted a tale of survival in a landscape filled with a natural world both beautiful and dangerous, and a religious calling even more dangerous. Strong, believable characters, a creatively imaginative story line, and a look at a time and place in American history imbued with an iconoclastic mystery, Belle o’ the Waters had me hooked from page one. I especially enjoyed the use of Belle’s journal entries during the tale as they bring into focus the intense situations that arise during her life, and without spoiling anything, she faces much that would break many fourteen year old girls on the verge of womanhood. A page turning delight, with requisite pauses to catch one’s breath, awaits you dear reader. Prepare to be entertained, and perhaps maybe even educated a little about an oft overlooked piece of American History. 4 Stars

Once More Unto the Breach by Meghan Holloway

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For readers of The Nightingale and Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes a gripping historical thriller set against a fully-realized WWII backdrop about the love a father has for his son and the lengths he is willing to go to find him, from a talented new voice in suspense.

Rhys Gravenor, Great War veteran and Welsh sheep farmer, arrives in Paris in the midst of the city’s liberation with a worn letter in his pocket that may have arrived years too late. As he follows the footsteps of his missing son across an unfamiliar, war-torn country, he struggles to come to terms with the incident that drove a wedge between the two of them.

Joined by Charlotte Dubois, an American ambulance driver with secrets of her own, Rhys discovers that even as liberation sweeps across France, the war is far from over. And his personal war has only begun as he is haunted by memories of previous battles and hampered at every turn by danger and betrayal. In a race against time and the war, Rhys follows his son’s trail from Paris to the perilous streets of Vichy to the starving mobs in Lyon to the treacherous Alps. But Rhys is not the only one searching for his son. In a race of his own, a relentless enemy stalks him across the country and will stop at nothing to find the young man first.

The country is in tatters, no one is trustworthy, and Rhys must unravel the mystery of his son’s wartime actions in the desperate hope of finding him before it’s too late. Too late to mend the frayed bond between them. Too late to beg his forgiveness. Too late to bring him home alive.

REVIEW

“Grief and I had long been acquaintances, but now it met me in an unfamiliar guise. When I lost Aelwyd and the twins, and later my father, I had been gorged to excess on pain and anger. Grief had been a wolf pacing within the confines of my chest, gnashing at my heart, howling and feral and bitter.”

Let me say at the outset, this book is one of the best I’ve read, and I read a lot of excellent books. The above quote is a prime example of the author’s descriptive talent. Dialogue and narrative are so beautifully rendered, to the point where the reader’s mind has to work very little to conjure up the images described or the emotional depth the characters feel. Right from page one, I was hooked. The chaotic atmosphere created by the German retreat from Paris jump starts an incredible adventure. An intense drama, as Rhys and Charlotte follow the trail of his lost son, unfolds into a stunning tale of survival in a landscape filled with enemies and memories. The use of flashbacks to Rhys’ past, along with the letters from Owain that begin each chapter, are an integral part of the narrative, adding context as they reach into the very hearts and minds of father and son. Another important aspect of this book is the detailed look at a time and place filled with unspeakable horrors, and the heroic efforts by those who chose to defy the invaders. The research done by the author is very evident throughout the tale, and that coupled with an imaginative/creative writing style had this reader on the edge of his seat, pausing occasionally to take a breath. The author also found a way to include my new favorite fictional canine, a poodle named Otto. This, my peeps and fellow travelers, is a book to savor. 5 Stars

Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba by Marc Graham

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Lift the veil of legend for the untold story of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and Bathsheba, wife and mother of Israel’s first kings.

When Makeda, the slave-born daughter of the chieftain of Saba, comes of age, she wins her freedom and inherits her father’s titles along with a crumbling earthwork dam that threatens her people’s survival. When she learns of a great stone temple being built in a land far to the north, Makeda leads a caravan to the capital of Yisrael to learn how to build a permanent dam and secure her people’s prosperity.

On her arrival, Makeda discovers that her half-sister Bilkis (also known as Bathsheba) who was thought to have died in a long-ago flash flood, not only survived, but has become Queen of Yisrael. Not content with her own wealth, Bilkis intends to claim the riches of Saba for herself by forcing Makeda to marry her son. But Bilkis’s designs are threatened by the growing attraction between Makeda and Yetzer abi-Huram, master builder of Urusalim’s famed temple. Will Bilkis’s plan succeed or will Makeda and Yetzer outsmart her and find happiness far from her plots and intrigue?

REVIEW

I don’t know why it is that I particularly enjoy historical fiction tales from this era and region. Perhaps it has something to do with my first history professor at Wayne State University and his teaching of the Ancient Near East. Or, perhaps it is because of my life long fascination with ancient Egypt (Kemet) vividly portrayed in The Ten Commandments. 😎 Whatever the reasons, Song of Songs has joined my list of favorites from this period. The author has crafted a tale of three people whose intertwined fates makes for not only an intriguing tale of love, adventure, and drama filled historical events, but also a tale rich in the cultures, traditions, and gods of the time. One of the things that makes a story transport the reader into the pages, is having characters who are so immersed in their time and cultures that they draw the reader in with them. You are Makeda in the desert; you are Yetzer defying the fates; you are Bilkis building a kingdom.

The narrative and dialogue lull the reader into a page turning trance. The author skillfully weaves the three separate threads through the tapestry of their lives, bringing them together in a climatic fashion. A well told telling of the Biblical rendering of the time of David, Bathsheba, Solomon, and the building of a temple. 5 stars

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About the Author

Marc Graham studied mechanical engineering at Rice University in Texas, but has been writing since his first attempt at science fiction penned when he was ten. From there, he graduated to knock-off political thrillers, all safely locked away to protect the public, before settling on historical fiction. His first novel, Of Ashes and Dust, was published in March 2017.

He has won numerous writing contests including, the National Writers Assocation Manuscript Contest (Of Ashes and Dust), the Paul Gillette Memorial Writing Contest – Historical (Of Ashes and Dust, Song of Songs), and the Colorado Gold Writing Contest – Mainstream (Prince of the West, coming from Blank Slate Press in Fall 2019).

He lives in Colorado on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and in addition to writing, he is an actor, narrator, speaker, story coach, shamanic practitioner, and whisky afficianado (Macallan 18, one ice cube). When not on stage or studio, in a pub, or bound to his computer, he can be found hiking with his wife and their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

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