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.

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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

Sunday, August 13
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

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

‘Do you believe in the devil? Not so long ago I too would have scoffed. Now – now I am not so sure.’

1645. Alice Hopkins returns in disgrace, husbandless and pregnant, to her brother Matthew’s house in the small Essex town of Manningtree.

When she left, Matthew was an awkward boy, bullied for the scars that disfigure his face. But the brother Alice has come back to is like a different person. Now Matthew has powerful friends, and mysterious business that keeps him out late into the night. Then the rumours begin: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which Matthew is gathering women’s names.

Just how far will Matthew’s obsession drive him? And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan? (publisher)

After the death of her husband, Alice Hopkins has no other choice than to return to her childhood home in Manningtree to live with her brother Matthew. But a lot has happened there while she was away and her brother has changed. They haven’t been in contact for years and Matthew didn’t approve her choice of husband and still hasn’t forgiven her.

Little by little Alice discovers that it is Matthew who is behind hunting women and accusing them of witchcraft. But she is horrified when she realizes that Matthew wants her to join him in the quest to find witches.

The first part of the book was really slow and boring so I was thinking about quitting but I still wanted to know how it ends. I mean all the action was in the latter half of the book.

I wasn’t huge fan of Alice and just didn’t connect with her. I just wished she had more backbone. She was too easily influenced by what others think and would agree with them. Then someone else says this and then she agrees with them and so on. She did got little better at the end and I was happy about the ending. I didn’t get why she would tell Matthew about her pregnancy. It probably wouldn’t have made him any warmer or anything but still.

Matthew well… he had his reasons sort of… He is evil person who truly believes in the existence of witches. He really does believe he is doing the right thing. He is not a nice person, I’ll just leave it there.

I have to say I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would but everyone else seems to love this so what do I know. But I was just bored and not scared.

2,5/5

Published: Viking (March 16, 2017)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

The Enemies of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy 3) by Sally Christie

In the final installment of Sally Christieís tantalizing (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.

After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

The book focuses on the last official mistress of Louis XV, Jeanne Becu, better known as Comtesse du Barry. Coming from humble origins she gets a lot of enemies on her way to Versailles and one of them is Madame Adelaide, daughter of the king.

I’ve never liked the women in these books but still somehow loved the books. I don’t know why but here it didn’t work out so well. They were both selfish and wanted the easy life. Adelaide might know Greek but knows nothing about real life. And Jeanne practically grew on the streets; you would think that kicked some sense into her but no. She certainly wasn’t picked for her wits for sure… Even Marie Antoinette was silly and frivolous but even she grew up a bit (too late but still) when needed.

I did feel sad about Louis XV, though. I haven’t been a huge fan of him but I could feel his frustrations with his grandson. Of course, he didn’t help his grandson’s time as a king. Getting a kingdom on a brink of a revolution and debauched life Louis lived and money spending…

I would have liked if it was better stated in what year we were because suddenly you notice the story jumped 2 years, 10 years…

Overall I think this was ok. Which is a shame because I really loved the previous books and in this, I didn’t really care if people got guillotined or not.

3/5

Published: Atria Books (March 21, 2017)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author03_sally-christie_author

Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto.

Visit SallyChristieAuthor.com to find out more about Sally and the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy.

You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, March 15
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Interview at T’s Stuff

Thursday, March 16
Review at Leeanna.me
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, March 17
Review at To Read, Or Not to Read
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Saturday, March 18
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at Books, Dreams, Life

Sunday, March 19
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, March 20
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, March 21
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, March 22
Review at First Impressions Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, March 23
Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, March 24
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Sunday, March 26
Review at The Gadoury Dreamer
Review & Interview at Clarissa Reads It All

Monday, March 27
Review at The Reading Queen

Tuesday, March 28
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, March 29
Review at Impressions in Ink
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Thursday, March 30
Review at Curling up by the Fire

Friday, March 31
Review at Bookramblings
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

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Corpus by Rory Clements

Corpus by Rory Clements

1936.
Europe is in turmoil.
The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland.
In Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror.
Spain has erupted in civil war.

In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within weeks, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.

In a London club, three senior members of the British establishment light the touch paper on a conspiracy that will threaten the very heart of government. Even the ancient colleges of Cambridge are not immune to political division. Dons and students must choose a side: right or left, where do you stand?

When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson…

Set against the drumbeat of war and moving from Berlin to Cambridge, from Whitehall to the Kent countryside, and from the Fens to the Aragon Front in Spain, this big canvas international thriller marks the beginning of a major new series from bestselling author Rory Clements. (publisher)

Thomas Wilde is a history professor at Cambridge University who gets himself drawn into a murder investigation. When a young woman is found dead, Lydia Morris doesn’t believe her friend’s death was just an overdose. She thinks it was a murder. When parents of Lydia’s other friend are murdered, Wilde can’t but wonder if the deaths are somehow connected.

Meanwhile, King Edward VIII is determined to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Both are known Nazi sympathizers and the Nazis want to keep Edward on the throne. The whole country is divided; left or right.

This is my first Rory Clements book even though I’ve owned Martyr for some time… And I’m glad I finally read his book!

I loved Wilde. I mean history professor as the main character, what’s not to like? He’s bit of an outsider; American, widower, hasn’t been to war and isn’t a fan of Cambridge traditions or politics. He’s studied Francis Walsingham so he knows something about spies and espionage.
It was interesting to see what might have happened during the Abdication. Politicians and Nazis all wanting their best choice on the throne. Conspiracies and espionage everywhere.

I really enjoyed this and now I have to start reading those John Shakespeare books.

4/5

Published: Zaffre (February 21, 2017)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley