Friday 31 March 2017

#bookreview ~ Dragon Redeemer (World of Aluvia #3) #YA @AmyBearce

Dragon Redeemer
(World of Aluvia #3)
Amy Bearce

Four years have passed since a fairy swarm released the voice of prophecy in Nell Brennan. In that painful moment, a skilled warrior became a reluctant leader and defender of Aluvia’s magic. Now a new enemy threatens their still-fragile lands, one Nell feels powerless to stop even with help from the voice within her.

A mysterious dark alchemist from the Ice-Locked Lands is rising to power on the strength of his sword arm and an ice-breathing dragon obedient to his command. He promises unlimited magic to his followers and death to those who defy him. If he takes over the ports, his corrupt elixirs will disrupt the delicate balance of peace between Aluvia's people and all magical creatures.

The voice of prophecy sends Nell and her friends to their enemy’s treacherous domain to find a sword of legend. Only the sword’s magic can prevent a return to a world of dying fairies and caged merfolk. But Nell’s up against the toughest foe she’s ever faced. In order to defeat him, she must master the unimaginable power of the sword
and the unwanted magic inside herself.

What did I make of the book?

Magic in the wrong hands will bring misery to all.

Nell Brennan has started to hear voices, which on the face of it is nothing new, for often she is paralysed by a strange prognostic magic that she has no control over. However, this time the voice is talking directly to her, and no one else can hear it. It is a worrying new development.

Then news comes of a powerful alchemist who has mastered dragons and other magical creatures and can now bend them to his will. This mysterious man threatens to destroy everything Nell and her friends hold dear. But to defeat him, Nell must embrace the magic inside of her. If she does not, then certain doom awaits the land of Aluvia, for no one, whether that be human or magical creature, will ever be safe again.

The world that Ms Bearce has woven is the most magical of places. It is a place where mythical creatures live alongside humans in relative harmony. Through Bearce's most captivating prose it is easy to imagine fairies, griffins and snow spirts. And of course the dragons, who are a proud and noble race. The dragons are the rulers of the skies and bow down to no one — apart from the windsteeds, but no one has seen one of them in years.  I was completely captivated by the world Bearce has created.  I felt as if I could feel the cold of the snow on my hands and the hot breath of a dragon on my face.

Nell is a very strong character who hates the magic she has been 'gifted' with and would love to go back to doing what she does best — being a warrior. But fate has other plans for Nell. When the prophecy calls for her to save Aluvia, she does not shrink from her responsibilities but faces them head on and with a courage that is wondrous to behold. The task ahead seems impossible, and she has her moments of doubt, but her struggle to fight the corrupted magic and to see past the anger and the hate and find in her heart love and compassion makes for a compelling read. Nell is not alone in this journey, her friends are steadfast in their loyalty to her and are willing to, quite literally, travel with her to the dangerous unknown to help her save Aluvia.

Dragon Redeemer is book 3 of a series — I have not read the other books, but I didn't need to. This book stands tall and proud on its own merit, although I have to confess I will definitely be reading the other two books in the series as soon as possible, for I want to return to this fascinating and wonderful land.

This book was pure escapism for me. Time seemed to stand still while the pages flew by. This is a sit-down and finish book and one I would not hesitate in recommending.

I Highly Recommend.

I received an ARC of this book from Curiosity Quills Press for review consideration.

Links for Purchase

Expected publication:
May 23rd 2017
by Curiosity Quills Press

About the author

Amy Bearce writes fantasy stories for tweens and teens. Her debut, FAIRY KEEPER, is an upper-middle grade fantasy and is the first book in the World of Aluvia series. MER-CHARMER (World of Aluvia, Book Two) released May 9, 2016. Book Three, Dragon Redeemer, is scheduled for release May 23, 2017. She is a former reading teacher who now has her Masters in Library Science. As an Army kid, she moved eight times before she was eighteen, so she feels especially fortunate to be married to her high school sweetheart. Together they’re raising two daughters and are currently living in Germany, though they'll be heading home to Texas this summer.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Author’s Inspiration ~ Joan Fallon #HistFic @joan_fallon

It is with the greatest of pleasure that I welcome Historical Fiction author, Joan Fallon, on to the blog. Joan is going totell us about her inspirations behind her fabulous book…

The Shining City


This is the story of a city, a city that is now in ruins: Madinat al Zahra.  The year is 947 AD, a time when southern Spain is under the rule of the Moors. The ruler, Caliph al Rahman III is rich, powerful and cultured. His lands are, at long last, at peace and the capital, Córdoba, is considered to be not only the most beautiful city in the civilised world but also the seat of learning and culture.  Against this background we meet the artisan Qasim - he and his family have moved to Madinat al Zahra to make their fortune as potters. Qasim is a good husband and father.  He works hard, says his prayers and keeps out of trouble. But Qasim has a secret; his past is not what it seems. When a stranger arrives asking questions about him, he is worried that his secret will be discovered and everything he has worked for will be destroyed. He has to take action.

Author’s Inspiration

The first book in my historical fiction series, The al-Andalus trilogy, is called ‘The Shining City.’  It is a novel based on the story of a family of Moorish artisans—potters—who lived in the 10th century in southern Spain, only a short distance from where I am living now. Since moving to Spain I had become fascinated with the country’s Moorish heritage and long considered writing a book set at some point during the 700 years of their occupation.  The reason I was inspired to write this particular story was because, back in 2000, I picked up a leaflet about an exhibition of Umayyad art that was to be held in a place called Madinat al-Zahra, just outside the city of Córdoba.  The Umayyads were the rulers of the Muslim world until the 8th century and rulers of Spain after that for almost 250 years. The exhibition was excellent but I was more impressed by the site they had chosen for it: Madinat al-Zahra. This was the ruins of a palace/city built by Abd al-Rahman III just after he proclaimed himself Caliph of al-Andalus—the name that was given to present day Andalusia.  The city was reputed to have been the most wonderful in the western world and covered the entire hillside—25,000 men worked on constructing it.  Abd al-Rahman III himself had 400 rooms in the palace.  It was filled with marble and gold, exquisite engravings and silk hangings, a palace fit for a caliph.  It was said that 800 loaves of bread were used each day just to feed the fish in the fountains and lakes. And what was even more fascinating to me was the length of time that the city was in existence.  Work was started on it in the year 936 AD and only 70 years later it was already abandoned, and falling into decay.  For the next thousand years it was looted, its beautiful buildings broken down and used as building materials—you can find pillars and masonry from the city incorporated in the building of neighbouring cities, including Málaga—until it was as it is today, a ruin. This is the place that inspired my novel. 

I have always been interested in social history and so decided to write the story of a Moorish family of artisans who had gone to Madinat al-Zahra to work but before I could start I had to learn something of what life was like, not just in that city but in Moorish Spain in the 10th century.   It was a time known as The Golden Age, a period of peace and stability, with a culture and civilisation far beyond the rest of Europe.  The more I read, the more I became impressed with the achievements of those early Moorish conquerors and was surprised to learn that the women of the time had much more freedom, education and rights than one might imagine. 

The title of the novel comes from the Arab word, Zahra which means brilliant or shining.  Considering the amount of gold and precious metals used in the construction of the palace, it seemed appropriate to call my novel ‘The Shining City.’

But the inspiration didn’t stop there because I soon became aware that not only did the city itself fall into decay but the Umayyad dynasty was destined to end within two generations. Abd-Rahman III’s son and heir was homosexual and it was thought he would never produce an heir. The incredible story of how he was manipulated into producing two sons forms the basis of the second book in the trilogy. It is very true that truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction.

Links for Purchase

About the author 

Born in Scotland, Joan Fallon has always wanted to be a writer. Books are her passion and she grew up reading everything she could get her hands on. Although writing was always a major part of her work, both as a teacher and later, as a management consultant and trainer, it wasn’t until ten years ago that she had the opportunity to devote herself to being a novelist. It was when she moved to Spain that she decided that the time had come to take her writing seriously. She enrolled in an Open University course in Creative Writing - the same university where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Open in the early eighties - and hasn’t stopped writing since. Because her working life, during the 1970s and through to the nineties, was that of a woman struggling for recognition in a man’s world, almost all her books have a strong female protagonist. She writes mainly about women and the challenges they have to face because she understands them best. She also likes to write about the past, but not kings and queens, rather the social fabric of society. To date she has written four historical novels, five contemporary novels and one book of non-fiction. Joan is a member of the Society of Authors and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
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Monday 27 March 2017

Researching The Du Lac Chronicles ~ #Cornwall #amwriting #Arthurian

“You don’t need another book on the Saxons and the Celts.”

"I could argue with you, but I won't. What I do need to do is head back to Cornwall!"

Writing isn’t just about locking yourself in a room, sitting down in front of a computer and typing a story — if only it were that easy. No, that is not how it works at all because at some point a writer, no matter what genre they write in, is going to have to do some research. I spend more time researching that I do writing and sometimes it is about really obscure things ~ the history of cobblestones is one thing that immediately comes to my mind. I am still waiting on that pub quiz! But, sometimes, I find, I have to get out of the house and actually visit the places that I am describing. I am lucky because I write about Britain in the Dark Ages and I live in Britain — England to be exact.

Book 3 of The Du Lac Chronicles, which I am currently writing, is, for the most part, set in Dark Age Cornwall. I love Cornwall, I mean who doesn't? I had come to a point in the story where I really wanted to go back to Cornwall so that I could soak up the atmosphere.

"It is for work purposes," I told my husband. 

I don't think he was fooled. I love Cornwall. Any excuse to visit. 

So I packed the kids, and the husband, in the car and off we went to Tintagel. Tintagel, it is said, was where King Arthur was conceived. Of course, with all things Arthur, it most likely isn’t, but Geoffrey of Monmouth said it was, so it must be right…?!

This sculpture of Arthur is a whopping 8 feet — maybe Briton really was once ruled by giants. Who knew?!
Anyway, I thought I would share some pictures. Tintagel is quite the tourist attraction, so we got there for opening, and although there were a few people around, it wasn’t too busy. It did mean we had Merlin’s Cave to ourselves for at least five minutes!!

Isn't it great?! At high-tide the cave fills with water.

Despite having an opening either end of the cave, it is still pretty dark and I must admit, I turned my phones torch on because yes, that is right, I don't like to be in a cave in the pitch dark!

The beach, where the cave can be found, is equally impressive!

Then we braved the steps up the castle itself. There are a many steps, be warned, they are not even, but the higher you climb the greater the views are!

I felt the need for a black horse so I could go galloping across the cliff face like Poldark does!!

I came back feeling refreshed and ready to crack on with my story. But I think I may need another trip down to Cornwall soon. Bodmin Moor is calling me!!!

The Du Lac Chronicles

“Chivalry is hanging in by its fingernails and treachery is in the air…”
Tony Riches ~ author of The Tudor Trilogy

“If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones and/or The Vikings, you’ll love the back-stabbing/political jockeying in The Du Lac Devil.”


The Du Lac Chronicles is set a generation after the death of King Arthur, and it follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Lancelot du Lac's sons

Links for Purchase

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Author’s Inspiration ~ Raelle Logan #HistFic #Romance @GallegKris

It is with the greatest of pleasure that I welcome Historical Romance author, Raelle Logan, on to the blog. Raelle is going to tell us about her inspirations behind her latest book…
Raelle Logan

No memory of his assassin past, sentenced to death for a duel gone wicked, Lochlanaire Blackheart is  granted freedom, commanded by King William to hunt Siren Rain, the illegitimate daughter of ousted King James II.  Her existence threatens the British monarchy.  In capturing his prey, Lochlanaire must plunder the signet Siren dons.  That jewel is the talisman of King James II, which proves Siren’s ancestry.  Lochlanaire, however, is unaware that, at the moment he casts sail, Siren’s already been kidnapped by his pirate brother, Zore.  Lochlanaire must stalk Zore and battles this cutthroat, in a fateful twist, for the captive princess, spinning Siren into his web of treachery and lies.  Afterward, they’re shipwrecked in a gale, entwined in a union of inconvenience when Lochlanaire weds Siren under the witchery of gypsies and at pistol point.  After Lochlanaire enlightens Siren of her true father’s identity, to spare her own life, she seduces her captor, desperate to conceive his child.  She believes he cannot surrender her to die at King William’s hangman’s noose if their blood unites.  Lochlanaire, alas, is trailed at every footfall by a ghoul slaughtering the pirates aboard his ship.  That ghoul bears a dastardly secret.  Siren must unravel all the Blackheart brothers’ secluded evils, while conspiring to save Lochlanaire, for he threads together a travesty by which to sacrifice himself to the king who enslaves him, all while opposing the two seething brothers who seek his demise for the tragedies reaped in Lochlanaire’s shattered past.  If Lochlanaire fails to evade the death-curses shadowing his every step, Siren will lose the breath-wrenching privateer who is her assassin hunter, the possessor of her lusty soul, and her only love.

Author’s Inspiration
In truth, I’ve never thought of what inspires me.  I have always wanted to be a writer; it’s apparently the only thing I really enjoy doing.  When I first began to write my romances, it never occurred to me that I would publish my work.  I mainly just wanted to put my characters and their stories on paper just for myself and maybe family.  Then I began to think, hey, maybe other people might be interested in reading my stories.  BLACKHEART took about a month to write, as the character was screaming in my head to get onto paper.  I hope people enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed threading together the tale.
Links for Purchase
 About the author
  I’ve been writing stories since I was a very young child.  Back then, my writing interests were mainly in a Western genre, owing to my Dad being a HUGE Western movie fan.  My mother worked at a local library and one day she brought home several books she hoped would keep me occupied throughout the summer months while I was out of school.  Several of those books were written by author Victoria Holt.  Needless to say, I was hooked on romance.  After I threw out the Western manuscript I had written, I delved into the romance genre with hearty gusto, reading every book I could find.  In later years, after marrying a racecar driver, a neighbor tossed an old laptop over the fence in our backyard into my husband’s arms, as he wanted to help with my husband’s racing career.  I got curious about the computer, sat down one day and starting writing on the notepad, only to discover, to my absolute horror, that I couldn’t save my work.  I bought a new computer and have been writing since.  After writing my first manuscript, I realized I wanted to write a book about pirates that was more true to the reality of their real lives than is usually portrayed in books and film.  Having only the limited knowledge of what I had seen in paper and moves, I took a year off in order to do historical research, learning about pirates and their ships, weapons, clothing and, language. I even read the WEBSTER’S dictionary so I could use words for the time period I write about.  BLACKHEART is my first published manuscript.
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Monday 20 March 2017

#bookreview ~ I Dared the Duke #Regency #Romance

I Dared the Duke:

A Wayward Wallflowers Novel
(The Wayward Wallflowers)


Anna Bennett

Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is known throughout the ton for three things: the burn scars on his neck, his ornery disposition, and the trail of broken hearts behind him. None of which would concern Miss Elizabeth Lacey in the least—if she weren’t living under his roof. As his grandmother’s companion, Beth is all too concerned with the moody and compelling duke. Incensed by his plans to banish the sweet dowager duchess to the country, Beth refuses to do his bidding. If Alex wants her help, he’s going to have to take her dare…and grant her three wishes.
Alex adores his grandmother, which is precisely why she must leave. A string of unfortunate incidents has him worried for the safety of everyone around him—including the dowager’s loyal and lovely companion, Beth. But the notorious wallflower isn’t as meek as she appears, and as their battle of wills heats up, so does Alex’s desire. He’s dangerously close to falling in love with her…and revealing secrets he’d rather keep hidden. How can he convince her that his darkest days are behind him—and that, for the first time in forever, his heart is true?
I Dared the Duke continues Anna Bennett's Regency-era romance series, The Wayward Wallflowers.

What did I think of the book?

What a breathtakingly beautiful, Regency Romance story.

If done right, there is no better Romance than a Regency one, in my humble opinion, and boy, did Anna Bennett get it right.

I Dared the Duke grabbed me from the first page and did not let go of me until the last. I was hooked, forget the housework, I wasn't going anywhere. The protagonists were so well drawn and realistic I could envisage them walking down the street!

I adore Alex, the notorious rake who is perhaps not as notoriously as the gossiping ton would have you believe. His back story was simply heartbreaking, but it made him all the more believable.

 The heroine, Beth, was such a strong female lead for Alex, and she was a genuinely lovely person. The whole relationship just worked, and it sucked me right in. Totally believable and a joy to watch unfold as I lost myself in the pages of this remarkable story.

The plot was super-engaging and had a real fast paced feel to it. There were lots of things that hindered the couple's relationship — his reputation and the fact that someone was trying to kill him, certainly didn't help! But this drama drove the story forward. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Hats of to you Anna Bennett, you just got yourself a new fan.

I Highly Recommend.

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley, for review consideration*

Links for Purchase

About the author

Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided that books with balls, dukes, and gowns were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Other weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots

Sunday 19 March 2017

#NewRelease ~ Henry Book 3 of The Tudor Trilogy #HistFic #Tudors @tonyriches


Book 3 of The Tudor Trilogy

 Tony Riches

Bosworth 1485

After victory against King Richard III, Henry Tudor becomes King of England. Rebels and pretenders plot to seize his throne. The barons resent his plans to curb their power and he wonders who he can trust. He hopes to unite Lancaster and York through marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth of York.

With help from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, he learns to keep a fragile peace. He chooses a Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon, as a wife for his son Prince Arthur. His daughters will marry the King of Scotland and the son of the Emperor of Rome. It seems his prayers are answered, then disaster strikes and Henry must ensure the future of the Tudors.

Links for Purchase

About the author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time.

For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his Wordpress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

Saturday 18 March 2017

#bookreview ~ God’s Hammer #HistFic #Vikings @DarkAgeScribe

God’s Hammer

It is 935 A.D. and the North is in turmoil. The Norse king, Harald Fairhair, has died, leaving the High Seat of the realm to his murderous son, Erik Bloodaxe. To solidify his rule, Erik ruthlessly kills all claimants to his throne, save one: his teenage brother Hakon, who is being raised in the Christian courts of Engla-lond. Summoned by the enemies of Erik, young Hakon returns to the Viking North to face his brother and claim his birthright, only to learn that victory will demand sacrifices beyond his wildest nightmares.

 What did I make of the book?

Eric Schumacher has created the most evocative tale in his
 stunning novel — God's Hammer.

Set in 935 AD, God's Hammer tells the story of Hakon Haraldsson (Haakon the Good), from the moment he arrived at King Athelstan of England's Kingdom as a young boy, to the harrowing battle with his eldest brother, Eric Bloodaxe.

This book completely drew me in. The research that has gone into God's Hammer has to be commended, and it is incredibly rich in historical detail. It was as if I was looking through a window into the past as I read the pages of this remarkable story.

Hakon's portrayal is both realistic and believable. Schumacher has obviously researched the life of Hakon in great detail, and this certainly came through in the writing. Schumacher brought Hakon back to life. Well Done!

There are a lot of interesting characters that you meet in this book, and Schumacher has given them all the same attention as Hakon — they are all well-fleshed, and they just work. Everything fits, so well. This book was so refreshing and so realistic, it was an absolute joy to read.

I thought the story itself was gripping and very fast in the telling. It is not an effort to read this book at all. I made a mistake of not giving myself enough time to read it in one sitting because God's Hammer deserves that much attention. It is definitely a sit down and finish book.

I Highly Recommend.

Links for Purchase

About the author

I grew up in modern Los Angeles but I've had a lifelong love affair with Dark Age Europe. It is a love affair that began as a child, and has persisted through my almost forty years of studying, researching and writing about the subject.

While I've written a number of articles about technology and travel, God's Hammer is my first novel. The novel tells the true story of King Hakon Haraldsson's bitter fight against his ruthless brother Erik for the Norwegian throne.

I now live in Santa Barbara, a small beach town about 100 miles north of Los Angeles with his family, and split time between writing and managing my own communications agency, Neology.

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Publisher:  Creativia