Imperial Passions: The Porta Aurea by Eileen Stephenson

Imperial Passions: The Porta Aurea by Eileen Stephenson

At the center of Byzantine society, fifteen-year old orphaned Anna Dalassena lives with her grandparents among the most powerful men and women in Constantinople. But the cutthroat politics of the Great Palace sends the family into exile in a distant corner of the mepire. Her bleak situation finally turns promising after meeing a handsome young soldier, John Comnenus, and his brother Isaac, before the are finally permitted to return home.

The vicious power struggles, uprisings, and betrayals at the highest levels of the empire push Anna and John unwillingly into its center as they struggle to deal with their own tragedies. When rebellion puts her life and those of everyone she loves at risk, is the reward a throne for her family – too big a gamble?

I’m not very familiar with Byzantine so this was an interesting read. At times it was rather difficult trying to keep the characters in order since everyone seems to be named either Anna or Michael…

We see the young orphaned girl grow into a confident and strong woman. Her family is connected enough to the rulers to be caught up in the power struggles. The book covers Anna’s life from a teenager until her brother-in-law Isaac Comnenus’ coronation. Last year I read a book about Anna Dalassena’s granddaughter, also called Anna, and it was interesting to learn more about her younger years.

This was my first book from the author and I’m looking forward to reading more.

3,5/5

Published: Blachernae Books (April 24, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but after a peripatetic childhood ended up in the Washington, DC area, where I attended college, married, worked a day job in finance, and raised three children.

My first book, Tales of Byzantium, contains short stories taking place in the middle years of the Byzantine Empire. My second book and first novel, Imperial Passions – The Porta Aurea, introduces Anna Dalassena, the extraordinary mother of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Comnenus, and an unstoppable force in her time.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 19
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 21
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 22
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, November 23
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, November 26
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, November 27
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 28
Excerpt at Tea Book Blanket

Thursday, November 29
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, December 3
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 6
Excerpt at Introvert Booklover

Friday, December 7
Feature at Jathan & Heather
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, December 10
Review at Bookramblings

The Monastery Murders by E.M. Powell

The Monastery Murders by E.M. Powell

Their lives are ones of quiet contemplation—and brutal murder.

Christmas Eve, 1176. Brother Maurice, monk of Fairmore Abbey, awaits the night prayer bell. But there is only silence. Cursing his fellow brother Cuthbert’s idleness, he seeks him out—and in the darkness, finds him brutally murdered.

Summoned from London to the isolated monastery on the Yorkshire Moors, Aelred Barling, clerk to the King’s justices, and his messenger Hugo Stanton, set about investigating the horrific crime. They quickly discover that this is far from a quiet monastic house. Instead, it seethes with bitter feuds, rivalries and resentments. But no sooner do they arrive than the killer strikes again—and again.

When Barling discovers a pattern to these atrocities, it becomes apparent that the murderer’s rampage is far from over. With everyone, including the investigators, now fearing for their lives, can Barling and Stanton unmask the culprit before more blood is spilled?

Barling and Stanton are sent to Fairmore Abbey, an isolated Cistercian Abbey cut off from world, to investigate a series of murders that happened there. While summoned by the Abbott, they’re not taken in with enthusiasm and the monks are reluctant to have an outsider to help them.

This is a second book in a series but works well as a standalone.
Barling and Stanton are learning to work together and starting to trust each other better. Their too different personalities still cause friction between them at times but they’re getting to know each other better. We also learn more about Barling’s past when he tells Stanton how he knows the Abbott from his youth in Paris.

Great addition to the series and I’m looking forward to reading their next mystery.

4,5/5

Published: Thomas & Mercer (September 27, 2018)
Format: ebook
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

About the Author

E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ 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

Monday, October 22
Feature at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 24
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Saturday, October 27
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Monday, October 29
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, October 30
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, November 5
Excerpt at T’s Stuff
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

Friday, November 9
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, November 15
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Monday, November 19
Guest Post at Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, November 21
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Thursday, November 22
Review at Jaffa Reads Too

Monday, November 26
Review at Curling up by the Fire

Wednesday, November 28
Review at Rachael’s Ramblings

Thursday, November 29
Review at Impressions In Ink

Friday, November 30
Review at A Darn Good Read

Monday, December 3
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Review at Maiden of the Pages

Tuesday, December 4
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, December 5
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, December 6
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, December 7
Review at Bookramblings 

 

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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 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

The Cold Light of Dawn (The King’s Greatest Enemy 4) by Anna Belfrage

The Cold Light of Dawn (The King’s Greatest Enemy 4) by Anna Belfrage

After Henry of Lancasterís rebellion has been crushed early in 1329, a restless peace settles over England. However, the young Edward III is no longer content with being his regentsí puppet, no matter that neither Queen Isabella nor Roger Mortimer show any inclination to give up their power. Caught in between is Adam de Guirande, torn between his loyalty to the young king and that to his former lord, Roger Mortimer.

Edward III is growing up fast. No longer a boy to be manipulated, he resents the power of his mother, Queen Isabella, and Mortimer. His regents show little inclination of handing over their power to him, the rightful king, and Edward suspects they never will unless he forces their hand.

Adam de Guirande is first and foremost Edwardís man, and he too is of the opinion that the young king is capable of ruling on his own. But for Adam siding with his king causes heartache, as he still loves Roger Mortimer, the man who shaped him into who he is.

Inevitably, Edward and his regents march towards a final confrontation. And there is nothing Adam can do but pray and hope that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, prayers donít always help.

The Cold Light of Dawn is the fourth in Anna Belfrageís series, The Kingís Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord and his king.

Edward III is growing up fast and the relationship between him and Mortimer, and Isabella, is growing more strained every day. Adam is finding it more and more difficult to balance his loyalty to both his king and to the man who is like a father to him.

This was supposed to be the last book in the series but apparently there might be a chance it isn’t. I’m really hoping it isn’t because I loved this book and I want to know what happens now. Do they reconcile?

I’ve never been a fan of Mortimer and this series hasn’t changed that. And I still don’t understand Adam’s unyielding loyalty for him, but I feel bad for Adam about how things went down. But he must have known that any other outcome isn’t possible…

I loved how much Thomas we have here. And I’m glad Edmund was never the heir to the throne… or king….

4,5

Published: Matador & TimeLight Press (February 16, 2018)
Format: ebook
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 sheís 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 ñ 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 sheís 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, February 26
Review at Historical Fiction Reviews

Tuesday, February 27
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, February 28
Review at A Holland Reads

Thursday, March 1
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, March 2
Review at Book Drunkard

Monday, March 5
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, March 6
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, March 7
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Friday, March 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, March 12
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, March 13
Guest Post at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, March 15
Feature at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 16
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, March 19
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, March 21
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, March 22
Review at Back Porchervations

Friday, March 23
Feature at Button Eyed Reader

Monday, March 26
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, March 28
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Impressions In Ink

Friday, March 30
Review at Bookramblings