God’s Hammer by Eric Schumacher

God’s Hammer (Hakon’s Saga 1) by Eric Schumacher

It is 935 A.D. and the North is in turmoil. King Harald Fairhair has died, leaving the High Seat of the realm to his murderous son, Erik Bloodaxe. To solidify his claim, Erik ruthlessly disposes of all claimants to his throne, save one: his youngest brother Hakon.

Erik’s surviving enemies send a ship to Wessex, where the Christian court of King Athelstan is raising Hakon. Unable to avoid his fate, he returns to the Viking North to face his brother and claim his birthright, only to discover that victory will demand sacrifices beyond his wildest nightmares. (Goodreads)

When Hakon was a child he was sent to England into King Athelstan’s court where he was raised as a Christian. When his father Harald Fairhair dies, Hakon is sent back to home to capture the throne from his bloodthirsty brother Eric Bloodaxe. Being a Christian amidst the pagans, he was viewed with suspicion. He was horrified by the Viking practice of human sacrifice but knew he needed allies if he wanted the crown so he couldn’t protest too much.

There were battles, blood and action and the story moved quickly. At first, Hakon was young, naïve, arrogant and lost among the Vikings after living so long away. He needs to learn how to be a Viking again to get support. At times I got the feeling he would have wanted to stay in England.

It was very enjoyable to read and I can’t wait to learn how he manages to hold on to the crown.

3,5 stars

Published: Creativia (February 1, 2005)
Format: ebook
Source: Author

Twilight Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome by Faith L. Justice

Twilight Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome
by Faith L. Justice

 

Twilight Empress tells the little-known story of a remarkable womanóGalla Placidia, sister to one of the last Roman Emperors. Roman princess, Gothic captive and queenóPlacidia does the unthinkableóshe rules the failing Western Roman Empireóa life of ambition, power and intrigue she doesnít seek, but canít refuse. Her actions shape the face of Western Europe for centuries.

A woman as well as an Empress, Placidia suffers love, loss, and betrayal. Can her strength, tenacity and ambition help her survive and triumph over scheming generals, rebellious children, and Attila the Hun? Or will the Dark Ages creep closer and bring down the Empire?

Sister to a Western Roman Emperor, Placidia is taken captive by the Goths when they attack Rome. During her captivity, she learned much about their way of life and falls in love with their king Ataulf. When Placidia is forced to return to Rome she has learned enough about strength and ruling to survive the Roman political life.

I don’t know anything about Roman history in this era so this was really fascinating. Rome changed a lot during Placidia’s life and it has a great effect on her life. I liked Placidia and wanted to know what happens to her next. I liked how she was willing to learn the Gothic way of life during her life there. She managed to hold power for so long in a Roman political life which was a world of men, and that was admirable. Without her, Rome would have completely fallen apart much sooner.

There was enough action so there was no dull moment and I really enjoyed the book. It seems to be the start of a series and I can’t wait to read the next one.

3,5/5

Published: Raggedy Moon Books (May 12, 2017)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

Faith L. Justice is a science geek and history junkie, which is reflected in her writing. Her short stories and poems have appeared in such publications as “The Copperfield Review”, “Beyond Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and the “Circles in the Hair” anthology. Faith has published in such venues as “Salon.com”, “Writerís Digest”, “The Writer”, and “Bygone Days”. Sheís an Associate Editor for “Space & Time Magazine”, a frequent contributor to “Strange Horizons”, and co-founded a writerís workshop more years ago than she cares to admit.

To contact Faith, read her essays and interviews, or get a sneak preview of her historical novels, visit her website at www.faithljustice.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 11
Review at 100 Pages a Day

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Feature at The Hungry Bookworm
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Review at Book Drunkard

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Review at Creating Herstory

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Review at The Muse in the Fog Reviews

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Feature at A Holland Reads

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Review at Book Nerd

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Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

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Feature at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, September 27
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review & Giveaway at What Cathy Read Next

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Review at Bookramblings
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, October 2
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

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Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 5
Review at A Bookish Affair

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic 3) by V.E. Schwab

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay. (Goodreads)

The book starts soon after where the previous book A Gathering of Shadows ended. A powerful enemy from another London moves to Red London. Kell, Lila, Alucard and Holland team up to beat this magical thing that thinks it’s a god.

We learn more about Holland and Alucard through flash backs and I loved learning how Holland came to be who he is. Alucard started slowly growing on me. As did Lila, kind of at least. She’s still too arrogant and reckless but bit less than before. I didn’t want to hit her all the time so that’s progress… Rhy has grown up and become more ready to be a king. Kell has learned that he still has a lot to learn about magic. I was hoping we would have learned more about his past and it was so close.

I don’t know what more to say. I can’t believe the series ends here! I thought this was a good ending but there were some loose ends that I keep hoping that someday there will be more books.

4/5

Published: Titan Books (February 21, 2017)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 666
Source: Library

Casanova’s Secret Wife by Barbara Lynn-Davis

Casanova’s Secret Wife by Barbara Lynn-Davis

Set in eighteenth-century Venice and based on an actual account by Giacomo Casanovaóhere is a lush tale of desire and risk.

Caterina Capreta was an innocent girl of fourteen when she caught the attention of the worldís most infamous chronicler of seduction: Giacomo Casanova. Intoxicated by a fierce love, she wed Casanova in secret. But his shocking betrayal inspired her to commit an act that would mark her forever Ö

Now twenty years later on the island of Murano, the woman in possession of Caterinaís most devastating secret has appeared with a request she cannot refuse: to take in a noble-born girl whose scandalous love affair resembles her own. But the girlís presence stirs up unwelcome memories of Caterinaís turbulent past. Tested like never before, she reveals the story of the man she will never forget.

Bringing to life a fascinating chapter in the history of Venice, Casanovaís Secret Wife is a tour de force that charts one womanís journey through love and loss to redemption.

Almost everything I knew about Casanova before reading this was from Heath Ledger’s movie. So not much… I did know he has written books about his conquests.

Knowing that I was somewhat cynical about the romance between Caterina and Casanova and I just kept waiting for her to realize what kind of man he was. And he did love her but he fell in and out of love very quickly. But she was 14 years old and very naïve. Which was little surprising considering who her brother was and how he behaved…

I liked the older and wiser Caterina who agrees to take care of a young woman who reminds her of herself 20 years ago. The abbess who asks this favor is an old enemy of hers and we learn the story there. And another side of Caterina too.

I enjoyed the book despite some problems with the romance and I can’t wait for the author’s next book.

3,5/5

Published: Kensington Books (July 25, 2017)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

Barbara Lynn-Davis graduated from Brown University with a degree in art history. She then worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and later spent a year there while completing her Ph.D. in Renaissance art at Princeton University.

She currently teaches art history and writing at Wellesley College, and lives outside Boston with her family.

For more information please visit Barbara Lynn-Davis’ website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, July 26
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Thursday, July 27
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, July 28
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Monday, July 31
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 1
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

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Review & Guest Post at Books of All Kinds

Thursday, August 3
Review at Library of Clean Reads
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, August 4
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, August 7
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, August 8
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, August 9
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

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Spotlight at Queen Bee Books

Friday, August 11
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

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Spotlight at Books, Dreams, Life

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Review at Creating Herstory

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Guest Post at Creating Herstory

Thursday, August 17
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, August 18
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Interview at Ms. Stuart Requests the Pleasure of Your Company

Monday, August 21
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, August 22
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Spotlight: The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller

The Quest for the Crown of Thorns
by Cynthia Ripley Miller

 

Publication Date: June 12, 2017
Knox Robinson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 308 Pages

Series: The Long – Hair Saga, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

 

 

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.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Praise

“Ripley Miller astutely brings to life a Rome teetering precariously on the brink of collapse …the combination of political and romantic drama–spiritual as well–is rousing. The reader should be glad to have read this volume and eager for a third. Intelligent and artfully crafted historical fiction…” -Kirkus Reviews

“From cover to cover a gripping read – in all senses of the word! Grips your interest and imagination, your held breath and your pounding heart! A thumping good novel!” -Helen Hollick USA Today bestselling author of the Sea Witch Voyages

“Forbidden love, a turbulent time period, and world-changing events combine to produce a real page-turner.” -India Edghill, author of Queenmaker, Wisdom’s Daughter, and Delilah.

“A passionate and intriguing take on the often overlooked clash of three brutal and powerful empires: the Romans, Franks, and Huns. A Compelling read!” -Stephanie Thornton, author of The Secret History and The Tiger Queens

“Readers will be absorbed by a setting of barbarian Gaul and the constancy of Arria’s and Garic’s destined love amid the strife of a dying Roman Empire.” -Albert Noyer, author of The Getorius and Arcadia Mysteries

“The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, is an elegant masterpiece of historical fiction. This book totally ensnared me in its clasps, and it did not release me until I had read it all. The attention to detail was exquisite The characterisation was sublime, and the romance was breathtakingly beautiful. I adored the world that Miller has created, as well as the characters in it. This is a sit-down and finish book and is one I would Highly Recommend.” -Mary Anne Yarde author of the Du Lac Chronicles

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 Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 7
Feature at Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!

Tuesday, August 8
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, August 9
Feature at Aurora B’s Book Blog
Feature at The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, August 10
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, August 11
Feature at Just One More Chapter

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Feature at A Holland Reads

Monday, August 14
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 15
Review at Bookramblings
Feature at Impressions In Ink

Deposed by David Barbaree

Deposed by David Barbaree

In a darkened cell, a brutally deposed dictator lies crippled – deprived of his power, his freedom – and his eyes.

On the edge of utter despair, his only companion is the young boy who brings him his meagre rations, a mere child who fears his own shadow. But to one who has held and lost the highest power, one thing alone is crystal clear: even emperors were mere children once.

Ten years later, the new ruler’s son watches uneasily over his father’s empire. Wherever he looks rebellion is festering, and those closest to him have turned traitor once before.

To this city in crisis comes a hugely wealthy senator from the very edge of the empire, a young and angry ward at his heels. He is witty but inscrutable, generous with his time and money to a leader in desperate need of a friend – and he wears a bandage over his blinded eyes.

The fallen emperor’s name is Nero.

But this isn’t his story. (publisher)

The book moves between two timelines: AD 68 which follows Nero when he is imprisoned and blinded in his cell. AD 79 follows Emperor Vespasian’s son Titus who is obsessed uncovering murderous plots against his father. While there is a huge cast with changing POV’s and changing timelines it was easy to follow and it’s clearly stated in what year we are on.

This is a book about what if Nero had lived it was really fascinating. I don’t know that much about this era in Roman history so can’t tell how well it kept with real history.

Marcus is a slave boy who brings Nero’s food when he is imprisoned. When Nero escapes, he takes the boy with him. No longer a slave, Marcus has some troubles adjusting to his new life and to Nero’s expectations of him. Nero has a plan to get back at the people who blinded him and Marcus has a role in it.

My only gripe about the book is that at some parts I felt the story was little far fetched and everything came so easily for Nero. But otherwise, I thought this was a great book and fabulous debut book.

4/5

Published: Bonnier Zaffre (May 4, 2017)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 480
Source: Publisher

Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage

Under the Approaching Dark (The King’s Greatest Enemy 3) by Anna Belfrage

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.

After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.

In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much.

When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adamís personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.

Adam and Kit are still trying to come to terms with their son’s death in the previous book and it also brings some strains into their marriage. Tom died when they were away and they never saw the body so there is the possibility that he is alive and Kit clings into that believe. But despite the circumstances of the start of their marriage, they have grown to love each other and are able to move on from these hard times.

But Adam is finding it ever more difficult staying loyal to both the young King and Mortimer. Edward is growing more frustrated because his mother Queen Isabella and Mortimer are holding the real power but as Edward grows older it becomes clear that sooner or later there will be a confrontation since its less than likely that Mortimer will just hand over the power. In the end, who will Adam serve?

I love that Edward III is getting more scenes in this book. I thought it was well presented how he dealt with the death and stuff concerning his father Edward II. Some conflicting emotions there! I’m so glad that he’s marriage to Philippa starts off well and I like how she is portrayed.

I’m also really starting to like Thomas of Brotherton. There’s so little written about him and I love how big role he has in this. And it’s great for Adam to have such a friend.

Another great book from the author and I can’t wait for the next book! I want to see how it goes between Edward and Mortimer.

4,5/5

Published: Matador (April 28, 2017)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 424
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thriveÖ

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com ñ unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 1
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, May 2
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, May 3
Review at A Book Drunkard

Thursday, May 4
Review at A Holland Reads

Friday, May 5
Spotlight at The Reading Queen

Monday, May 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, May 9
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 10
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Thursday, May 11
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, May 12
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 15
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Tuesday, May 16
Review at Back Porchervations
Guest Post at Ms. Stuart Requests the Pleasure of Your Company

Wednesday, May 17
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, May 18
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, May 19
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Monday, May 22
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, May 23
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at The Muse in the Fog Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 24
Excerpt at Jo’s Book Blog
Spotlight at The Paperback Princess

Thursday, May 25
Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, May 26
Spotlight at Laura’s Interests

Sunday, May 28
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Books and Benches

Monday, May 29
Guest Post at Yelena Casale’s Blog

Tuesday, May 30
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Beyond the Wild River by Sarah Maine

Beyond the Wild River by Sarah Maine

The day comes sooner than expected when Charles, prompted by a near-scandal between Evelyn and a servant, brings her on a business trip to New York City and the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Evelyn welcomes the chance to escape her cloistered life and see the world.

But a fishing expedition up the Nipigon River in Canada takes an unexpected turn when Evelyn discovers that their river guide is none other than James Douglas. Even more startling, her father betrays no shock, simply instructing Evelyn not to reveal their past connection with James to the rest of their party.

Evelyn never believed that James was guilty, but speculation about her father’s role in the killing has made her fearful. What is he hiding? As they travel deeper into the wilderness, and further from the constraints of polite society, the secrets and lies surrounding that night are finally stripped away, revealing the true natures of everyone in their party. (publisher)

A poacher is killed on a Scottish estate and James Douglas is accused of the murder. He flees to Canada where he works as a guide. Five years later Evelyn Ballentyre is accused of becoming too close with their stable hand and her father Charles takes her with him to the Canadian wilderness. Once there, they discover that their guide is none other than James Douglas who used to work on their estate. The story moves between past and present as we learn more about the poacher’s death.

I was intrigued by this book once I noticed it’s set in Canada because I haven’t read many books set in there. Throw in some Scotland and what’s not to like?

The middle part was a bit slow going but once things started to happen, it does pick up. But the end felt a bit rushed like trying to cram up all the happenings in the end.

Evelyn was ok but I didn’t really connect with her. Her friend Clementina was just silly but I did like James. I would have liked to learn more about how he worked his way to Canada.
I didn’t buy all the situations that Evelyn had as a woman living in the 1800’s.

I liked the murder mystery and thought it wrapped up good in the end. We learn more about Charles as the mystery is revealed.

In the end, it was an okay and quick read but I felt like it could have been so much more.

3/5

Published: Atria (April 18, 2017)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher