A Black Matter for the King by Matthew Willis & J.A. Ironside

A Black Matter for the King (Oath and Crown 2) by Matthew Willis & J.A. Ironside

TWO POWERFUL RIVALS — ONE DECISIVE BATTLE

Now a political hostage in Falaise, ∆lfgifa forms an unlikely friendship with William, Duke of Normandy. William has been swift to recognize her skills and exploit them to his advantage. However, unbeknownst to the duke, Gifa is acting as a spy for her brother, Harold Godwinson, a possible rival for the English throne currently in the failing grip of Edward the Confessor. Homesick and alienated by the Norman court, Gifa is torn between the Duke’s trust and the duty she owes her family.

William has subdued his dissenting nobles, and a united Normandy is within his grasp. But the tides of power and influence are rarely still. As Williamís stature grows, the circle of those he can trust shrinks. Beyond the English Channel, William has received news of Edward’s astonishing decree regarding the succession. ∆lfgifa returns to an England where an undercurrent of discontent bubbles beneath the surface. An England that may soon erupt in conflict as one king dies and another is chosen.

The ambitions of two powerful men will decide the fates of rival cultures in a single battle at Hastings that will change England, Europe, and the world in this compelling conclusion to the Oath & Crown series on the life and battles of William the Conqueror.

A Black Matter for the King is a second book in “Oath and Crown” series and is told by William’s and Ælfgifa’s point of view. Like in the first book, I enjoyed Gifa’s chapters more but I do like that we get both sides of the story. I’ve never been a fan of William and these books haven’t made me like him any more than before…

The book was fast paced and quite a quick read. One thing that bothered me was that it’s not clearly told in what time were in. Sometimes it’s been months and sometimes years between chapters and it took me some time to understand how much time has passed. I don’t remember if this was an issue in the previous book…

But otherwise, I liked the book, it was well written with interesting characters.

3,5

Published: Penmore Press LLC (September 7, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Authors

J.A. Ironside (Jules) grew up in rural Dorset, surrounded by books – which pretty much set he up for life as a complete bibliophile. She loves speculative fiction of all stripes, especially fantasy and science fiction, although when it comes to the written word, she’s not choosy and will read almost anything. Actually it would be fair to say she starts to go a bit peculiar if she doesnít get through at least three books a week. She writes across various genres, both adult and YA fiction, and itís a rare story if there isnít a fantastical or speculative element in there somewhere.

Jules has had several short stories published in magazines and anthologies, as well as recorded for literature podcasts. Books 1 and 2 of her popular Unveiled series are currently available with the 3rd and 4th books due for release Autumn/ Winter 2017.

She also co-authored the sweeping epic historical Oath and Crown Duology with Matthew Willis, released June 2017 from Penmore Press.

Jules now lives on the edge of the Cotswold way with her boyfriend creature and a small black and white cat, both of whom share a god-complex.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Matthew Willis is an author of historical fiction, SF, fantasy and non-fiction. In June 2017 An Argument of Blood, the first of two historical novels about the Norman Conquest co-written with J.A. Ironside, was published. In 2015 his story Energy was shortlisted for the Bridport short story award.

Matthew studied Literature and History of Science at the University of Kent, where he wrote an MA thesis on Joseph Conrad and sailed for the University in national competitions. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, before switching to a career with the National Health Service.

His first non-fiction book, a history of the Blackburn Skua WW2 naval dive bomber, was published in 2007. He now has four non fiction books published with a fifth, a biography of test pilot Duncan Menzies, due later in 2017. He currently lives in Southampton and writes both fiction and non-fiction for a living.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, September 5
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Friday, September 7
Feature at The Writing Desk

Monday, September 10
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, September 14
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, September 20
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Friday, September 21
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Saturday, September 22
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Sunday, September 23
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

Compared to Outlander and The Mists of Avalon, this thrilling first novel of a debut trilogy reveals the untold story of Languoreth—a forgotten queen of sixth-century Scotland—twin sister of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin.

I write because I have seen the darkness that will come. Already there are those who seek to tell a new history…

In a land of mountains and mist, tradition and superstition, Languoreth and her brother Lailoken are raised in the Old Way of their ancestors. But in Scotland, a new religion is rising, one that brings disruption, bloodshed, and riot. And even as her family faces the burgeoning forces of Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons, bent on colonization, are encroaching from the east. When conflict brings the hero Emrys Pendragon to her father’s door, Languoreth finds love with one of his warriors. Her deep connection to Maelgwn is forged by enchantment, but she is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a Christian king. As Languoreth is catapulted into a world of violence and political intrigue, she must learn to adapt. Together with her brother—a warrior and druid known to history as Myrddin—Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way and the survival of her kingdom, or risk the loss of them both forever.

Based on new scholarship, this tale of bravery and conflicted love brings a lost queen back to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of one of the most enduring legends of all time. (publisher)

I haven’t read that many books based on King Arthur so I was curious enough to try this and there aren’t too many books set in sixth-century Scotland either.

Languoreth is a twin of Lailoken who will be known as Merlin. Growing up Languoreth wants to become a Wisdom Keeper, a druid, like her brother and hates the fact that her fate lies in marriage. She is wed to Rhydderch, son of a Christian High King, but she has fallen in love with Maelgwn, one of Pendragon’s man.

Languoreth is an easy character to like. Strong and fearless who soon learns the ways of the court intrigues. Her marriage to Rhydderch doesn’t start in a promising way but in time they develop mutual respect for each other.

It was interesting to see the coming of Christianity and slowly losing the Old Ways. Anglo-Saxons are coming and there are wars and bloodshed. The book is from Languoreth’s point of view and I think it kind of restricts the story. It would have been nice to see what happens elsewhere, like in battles and such.

One real complaint from me is that Languoreth and Maelgwyn’s romance was a bit too instalove for me. They meet and in a manner of days, they’re so in love with each other that they’ll pine for each other for nearly 20 years.

The start dragged a bit but once things start to happen it flows nicely. In the end, I just wanted to know what happens next. All in all, I think this was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the next book.

3,5/5

Published: Touchstone (September 4, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Publisher

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

New York, 1924. Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.

But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

Jenny Bell is a burgeoning artist with a past she’s trying to hide. We learn more about her past little by little as we get to know her. She and her friend Minx get the chance to study at Laurelton Institute where Jenny gets to meet her idol Mr. Tiffany and his grandson Oliver.

I’ve loved everything I have read from the author and this doesn’t make an exception. It has less mystical elements in it than the other books I’ve read but the writing is great as always.

Jenny has trouble forgetting the horrible stuff that happened in her past, but it was nice to see how she learns to open up and grow. She learns to use colors in her art, something she has refused to do in the past and a lot of that has to do with Oliver. I loved seeing how their romance grew and he helps Jenny find some confidence in her art.

Another great book by Rose and she always has amazing covers in her books!

4/5

Published: Atria Books (August 7, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice… books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

Rose’s work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com

Her most recent novel THE LIBRARY OF LIGHT AND SHADOW (Atria/S&S) was chosen as an Indie Next Pick.

The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield.

For more information, please visit her website and her blog, Museum of Mysteries. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 6
Excerpt at Passages to the Past
Feature at Naomi Finley

Tuesday, August 7
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, August 8
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, August 9
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Friday, August 10
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Sunday, August 12
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings

Monday, August 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, August 14
Feature at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Wednesday, August 15
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Thursday, August 16
Review at The Lit Bitch

Monday, August 20
Review at The Book Mind
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, August 21
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Wednesday, August 22
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, August 24
Feature at I’m Shelf-ish

Monday, August 27
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, August 28
Feature at A Holland Reads

Wednesday, August 29
Review at Bookish
Review at Library of Clean Reads

Thursday, August 30
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, August 31
Interview at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Saturday, September 1
Review at A Darn Good Read

Monday, September 3
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, September 5
Review at Laura’s Interests

Thursday, September 6
Review & Interview at Clarissa Reads it All

Friday, September 7
Review at Bookramblings

She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.

In a novel full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots. (publisher)

When their mother dies, twins Rose and Bel move in with their grandmother who they barely know. They are sent to The Odell Academy, a boarding school for the rich kids, where the academic Rose fits right in, but the wilder Bel becomes friends with the popular kids, but the friendship comes with a price. Bel has a crush on Heath Donovan, an ambitious teacher, which sets her against the older popular kids.

The book has some Gossip Girl vibes and I have to say that I hated all the characters. I wanted to know what happens but didn’t feel much sympathy for any of the people.

The book starts with a murder, but we don’t know who died or who did it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too difficult to guess who it was, but it takes the cops waay to much time to get it or understand at all what goes on in the school. So much eye-rolling here…

It was a solid read, but I had higher hopes for this one.

3/5

Published: St. Martin’s Press (July 31, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

The King’s Justice by E.M. Powell

The King’s Justice (Stanton & Barling #1) by E.M. Powell

A murder that defies logic—and a killer on the loose.

England, 1176. Aelred Barling, esteemed clerk to the justices of King Henry II, is dispatched from the royal court with his young assistant, Hugo Stanton, to investigate a brutal murder in a village outside York.

The case appears straightforward. A suspect is under lock and key in the local prison, and the angry villagers are demanding swift justice. But when more bodies are discovered, certainty turns to doubt—and amid the chaos it becomes clear that nobody is above suspicion.

Facing growing unrest in the village and the fury of the lord of the manor, Stanton and Barling find themselves drawn into a mystery that defies logic, pursuing a killer who evades capture at every turn.

Can they solve the riddle of who is preying upon the villagers? And can they do it without becoming prey themselves?

Hugo Stanton is selected to assist Aelred Barling, appointed clerk of the court, to solve a mysterious death in Claresham. The start is not easy for the two very different men working together and both having secrets of their own. Stanton, in particular, isn’t happy having to work for the king.

Stanton appeared on the Fifth Knight novels, which I enjoyed, but I have to confess that I don’t remember him. It was frustrating at times trying to remember since there are references to the past.

Stanton and Barling are very different personalities and at first, it causes difficulties. Barling does everything by the book and Stanton is more of an improviser. I liked to see how they learned to work with each other and started to respect each other. I loved to read about the normal life since the books I’ve read usually centers at the royal court or something.

It was great to learn more about how the justice system worked in 12th century. I certainly wouldn’t like to be accused of anything in those times.

I enjoyed the book and can’t wait for the next book. Good start for a new series.

3,5/5

Published: Thomas & Mercer (June 1, 2018)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

E.M. Powellís historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The Kingís Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writersí The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society.

Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, June 1
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, June 4
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Wednesday, June 6
Review at The Writing Desk

Thursday, June 7
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Tuesday, June 12
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 13
Guest Post at Jathan & Heather

Saturday, June 16
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Friday, June 22
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, June 27
Review at Hoover Book Reviews
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Monday, July 2
Interview at Reading the Past

Tuesday, July 3
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, July 5
Review at Bri’s Book Nook

Friday, July 6
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Monday, July 9
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, July 11
Review at Jaffa Reads Too

Friday, July 13
Review at Bookramblings
Review at A Darn Good Read