Showing posts with label Book Excerpts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Excerpts. Show all posts

18 October 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Shadow Shinjuku' By Ryu Takeshi #UrbanFantasy #CrimeThriller

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[Blog Tour] 'Shadow Shinjuku' By Ryu Takeshi #UrbanFantasy #CrimeThriller
Shadow Shinjuku - Book Tour Poster

The Book:

Shadow Shinjuku 
By Ryu Takeshi
  • Publication Day: 5th August 2021 
  • Publisher: Purple Crow Press
  • Page Count: 358 pages
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy/Crime Thriller

The Blurb:

The streets of Tokyo are different at night.

There is darkness behind the glitter and the neon lights, and people who prefer to stay in the shadows, to dwell in the underworld – whores, gangsters, the homeless, the lost.

People like Sato.

He’s part of this world, he always has been, but a feeling of change is lingering in the heavy air of the bustling city. A feeling brought to life by fateful encounters of solitary souls.

Shadow Shinjuku is a dark, yet magical journey into the depths of Tokyo’s nightlife and the depths of the human soul.

Ryu Takeshi’s first novel is both a crime thriller and urban fantasy. It's a unique and mesmerizing blend of the imagery of Japanese animation and film, the colors and details of street photography, and the mystical lyricism of soulful music.


But above everything, it is a gripping story that doesn’t let go.
[Blog Tour] 'Shadow Shinjuku' By Ryu Takeshi #UrbanFantasy #CrimeThriller
Shadow Shinjuku - Book Cover

'Shadow Shinjuku' - Excerpt:

I took a shower after practice and then made a simple dinner. I had an omelet with three eggs, tofu, and green peppers. A typical dinner of mine – I would have it three or four times a week. Simple, light, tasty. And I liked the combination of colors. The yellow, the green, and the white went really well together. For a while, I had thought it was only me with this strange attraction to this particular set of colors, but then I learned that people over in Europe love preparing eggs with spinach and goat cheese. Of course, you prepare a dish because you want to eat something good, but it can’t be good enough if it doesn’t have the looks. Even before the tongue gets to decide whether the food is good or bad or somewhere in between the nose and the eyes give the first impression. And the first impression is crucial. It creates an idea of how the food will taste, and it’s almost impossible to ignore. Like planting a seed inside the mind, for small veins to then grow out of it in the blink of an eye. These veins run wide, run deep, and attach themselves to all kinds of other veins from other seeds of other ideas. And it requires precision surgery to detach and untangle them. As I said, it’s almost impossible. But there is a way. Kei once told me about a person who can fully remove one idea from the mind while leaving everything else intact. The “Cleaner”, he called him.

According to Kei, artificially removing ideas is risky. When you remove them, they don’t disappear, die, or self-destruct. No, they stay. More precisely, they go back to the “Sea of Thought” – the source of all ideas. The Sea of Thought is usually not visible to us humans. It resides in a different dimension. It’s hard to describe, but a simple version would be to think of it as the outer layer of space. The one up there, with all the planets and stars. The infinite one. You take the space, then turn it inside out, like a sweater, and that’s where you find the Sea of Thought.
[Blog Tour] 'Shadow Shinjuku' By Ryu Takeshi #UrbanFantasy #CrimeThriller
Ryu Takeshi 

Author Bio:

Ryu Takeshi loves to write. It’s a way for him to find and explore new worlds, both inner ones and those way outside. And this process is spontaneous and instinctive, his stories born out of a single image, following a path Ryu himself never fully understands – not its origin, nor its end -, immersed in the magic of the moment, and the magic of everything that surrounds us, the visible and the invisible.

Ryu is a daydreamer, a believer in the magic of humanity, a friend to all the mystical creatures of the night, and a sucker for the visual beauty of anime. But above all else, Ryu is just a human being, like yourself.

Ryu was born in 1983, has a beautiful wife, a funny little dog, and a lovely daughter. He adores sumo, practices traditional kenjutsu, sometimes plays basketball (Go Denver Nuggets!), relaxes playing video games, watching anime and reading books.

Oh, and he loves to eat! But who doesn’t…

Connect With Ryu Takeshi:

15 October 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Amongst The Mists' By M.L Rayner #GhostStory

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[Blog Tour] 'Amongst The Mists' By M.L Rayner #GhostStory
Amongst The Mists - Book Tour Poster

The Book:

Amongst The Mists 
By M.L Rayner
  • Publication Day: 12th October 2021 
  • Publisher: Question Mark Press
  • Page Count: TBC pages
  • Genre: Horror/ Ghost Story

The Blurb:

It was the most anticipated summer break of their young lives.

For Bran Lampshire, that summer of 1986 would be far different. The lure of a wilderness adventure sends him and his friends on a troublesome journey that would see them far from home and into the isolated shadows of the Sleathton Estate. In a forgotten land where nature thrives, an unexplained mist settles upon the shaded grounds. And stories were told of events so chilling, they were forcibly buried over time.

Lose yourself beneath the endless trees. And discover that legends are sometimes so much more than ghost stories.
[Blog Tour] 'Amongst The Mists' By M.L Rayner #GhostStory
Amongst the Mists - Book Cover

'Amongst The Mists' - Excerpt:

She sprinted farther and farther downstream, committed to catching the caller. But with each bend in the river that was reached, the nasal call was heard farther away. 

I’ll catch you… You little runt, she thought with a scowl. Her lungs started to weigh heavily with exhaustion. She stopped, hesitant to go on. Olivia waited, watching as the clear glistening water freely tumbled between her legs and into the dimness of woodland beyond. She held no fear of the forest but knew she should not stay. She had prolonged her time here enough.

“I’m not playing now,” she yelled. “Gotta go I have.”

Olivia waited, and surely enough the reply was delayed in return. 

“Lost!” It yelled back through the trees. The vocalisation seemed more distant than before.

“I said, I ain’t playing. You deaf or something?” Olivia screamed, trying her best to be heard through the seemingly endless trees.

“Lost…” The caller replied but was perceived with more uncertainty than the last. Olivia tilted her head inquisitively, trying to peer through the thick shrubs.

“You really lost?” she yelled, now beginning to feel a sense of concern. “Or you just fakin’?”

Again she was answered, but the sound echoed even deeper from the dense thicket. The girl cautiously moved forward, following the route of the water.  It would be dark soon. She was well aware of that. But as the fading voice cried out from the depth of the woods, Olivia’s small body vanished into the endless tunnel of arched trees.
[Blog Tour] 'Amongst The Mists' By M.L Rayner #GhostStory
ML Rayner 

Author Bio:

Born and bred in the county of Staffordshire. Matt is a keen reader of classical, horror and fantasy literature and enjoys writing in the style of traditional ghost stories. During his working life, Matt joined the ambulance service in 2009, transporting critically ill patients all over the UK. After writing his first novel, Matt was welcomed into the family of Question Mark Press publishing and now dedicates his time on future releases. His hobbies include genealogy and hiking, and he enjoys spending time with his wife, Emma, his children, and his family.

Connect With M.L Rayner:

11 October 2021

[Blog Tour] 'After Gáirech' By Micheál Cladáin #HistoricalFiction

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[Blog Tour] 'After Gáirech' By Micheál Cladáin #HistoricalFiction
After Gáirech - Tour Banner

The Book:

After Gáirech
By Micheál Cladáin
  • Publication Date: 30th September 2021
  • Publisher: PerchedCrowPress
  • Page Length: 370 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

The battle of Gáirech is over; the armies of Connachta, Lagin, and Mumu are destroyed! Survivors are ravaging The Five Kingdoms of Ireland!

While working to resolve the Kingdoms’ issues and bring peace, Cathbadh is murdered, dying in his son Genonn’s arms. Genonn vows to avenge the death of his father.

For his revenge to work, he needs Conall Cernach and the Red Branch warriors of Ulster. But Conall is gone, searching for the head of Cú Chulainn. Genonn sets out to find him, aided by the beautiful Fedelm, the capricious Lee Fliath and the stalwart Bradán.

Buy Links: 

[Blog Tour] 'After Gáirech' By Micheál Cladáin #HistoricalFiction
After Gáirech - Book Cover

'After Gáirech' - Excerpt:

Nechtan listened to the mumbling of the snaking line of warriors. They were riding through the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, fidgeting in their saddles and moaning in whispers, vainly trying to keep their pain to themselves. Thirty warriors and only a handful could say they were free of wounds. The cattle raid had promised riches beyond belief and then delivered nothing but pain and hunger and for some, death.

Sighing, Nechtan peered up through the canopy. The sky was taking on the darker blue of one soon to be abandoned by the sun. He was searching for a crow, any crow, so long as it flew in the same direction as his warband. His brows creased when the skies appeared empty. No crows. No birds of any kind.

Now ain’t that a shite. Where’s the crows when you need them?

Staring into the forest, he wondered what would be better: a good omen or no omen. His suspicions were with the former. Anything to keep his fénnid happy. Warriors in pain were prone to violence. Hungry warriors in pain were prone to extreme violence, usually directed at the one they considered responsible: the captain.

And rightly so. A captain was only as good as the silver, meat, and mead he provided. Steering them up the Cooley Peninsula to steal Mac Fiachna’s famous Brown Bull proved to be a mistake. And it wasn’t even good eating. Tough as old saddle leather. Why the Cailleach decided to roast the animal was anyone’s guess. Roast it and then spread the rumour the two bulls fought it out in an epic battle, even more so. Still, who was he to question Queen Medb? She was a queen, and he was nothing but an elevated woodsman.

Although uninjured, Nechtan felt a despondency bubbling under his shirt, ants of sweat crawling over his skin. With another night of soulless fires and tight belts, his warriors would start to think of a change. Start to listen to the claims of those who considered themselves his better. Nothing would stop them from turning to a captain who could feed them, provide them with enough silver to live a decent life. A captain who would keep their promises, at the very least.

Sharvan, he thought, glancing sideways.

‘If we hurry, we’ll make Ráth Droma before sunset,’ he called. ‘We’ll demand respite from the chief. Keeps a good vat of mead, does yer man Mathaman.’

‘What makes you think he’ll welcome us, this chieftain?’ Sharvan asked, staring at him with his little pig eyes.

Nechtan glowered at his redheaded second, before turning away and sighing. Sharvan made his warhorse seem like a pony. He was a good fighter, a good leader, his bulk demanding obedience, but his constant questions and less than average brainpower grated. You’re a bit of a dog shite and no mistake, Nechtan thought, turning to stare into the forest.

‘We go way back,’ Nechtan said, wondering how many times he needed to repeat it.

‘Aye, so you said. Often. Said you hanged a usurper. But that happened years back. Long before they routed us at Gáirech. You think this cúl an tí chief will remember? You think he’ll feed us even if he does remember?’

‘Aye, he’s a bogman. So, if he’s even heard of Gáirech, he won’t show no favour. He’s no love for Ulster neither. Besides, the Cailleach claims victory. Says she got the bull, and the Ulster king ran. She could be right, his kingship’s over either way. The Red Branch won’t forgive him running like a beaten cur.’

‘Won, did we?’ Sharvan scoffed. ‘Good of the lady to forget Cú Chulainn cutting swathes through us like we was harvest wheat.’

‘You can’t hold that against her. Them as rule, think different to us. They have different ideas about winning and losing. Different ideas about–’

‘None of that fills our bellies,’ Sharvan interrupted with a snort. ‘Nor give us the promised silver. Them as rule, can stick their ideas of winning up their holes.’

Nechtan stood in his stirrups and turned back to the warriors riding in his wake, his fían. There were thirty, and he would welcome all of them beside him in a shield wall, even though they were not the best fighters. The band had included fifty-two fénnid when they rode with the Cailleach just a handful of days before. Now the best of them were rotting on the field at Gáirech, feed for the animals. Crows and wolves, mostly. Maybe the occasional fox when the wolves allowed.

The view behind did not improve his unease.

There was none of the usual banter as they rode towards the ráth of Mathaman, just a stench of blood and a profusion of dirty, rag wrapped wounds. They were tired. War-weary and poor. Captain Bréannin was meant to pay their purse with spoils from the raid on Cooley, but the army of Ulster took all the loot, along with most of Nechtan’s best warriors. It was always the best who died, being first in the shield wall. Each wall meant having to start again, which he hated. This time, there were no spoils to pay for the rebuild. He would have to grab some young ‘uns. Bring them up to be fighters; fill their heads with tales of gold and glory. It would be a long and slow road, which would push back his buying a steading where he could raise some cattle and a baby or two. Get himself a beautiful redheaded seeress like the one who predicted the outcome of the cattle raid. He was too far away to clearly hear the name she gave before forecasting Cú Chulainn’s murderous attacks. But she reminded him of a redheaded whore he knew on Ynys Môn. Next time he was on the island, he would pay her some coppers and live his dream, if only for a short while.

If he ever made it to the island. He was not sure he would make it out of this bunghole of a forest. With the giant acting as their voice, he could see himself hanging from a tree before nightfall.

Trying to hide the grimace he felt creasing his mouth, he turned and made an attempt to appease Sharvan.

‘He’ll give us our traveller rights. I’m sure.’

‘And if he doesn’t?’

‘We’ll take them. From what I remember, there’s four guards, different generations of the same family. Rusty shirts. Blunt swords. Big guts from lots of mead and no exercise. Gráinne could take them on her own, one arm tied behind her back.’

‘Did you hear that Gráinne? You’re to be the razer of Ráth Droma,’ Sharvan called, raising a laugh for the first time since the eve of Gáirech, that one-sided battle they should have won with ease. They had twice the numbers of Ulster’s Red Branch. Nechtan still didn’t understand how they lost. Bad leadership aside, they should have just overwhelmed the opposing wall.

‘Hush. We near the gates. I know the gatekeep is older than the Dagda, but he might have a hearing horn,’ Nechtan called. Those who heard laughed again.

‘Never mind the talk,’ Sharvan said. ‘We take our rights by force, and Bréannin will be after us with a company of Leinster’s best.’

‘The Leinster company ran, leaving Bréannin sat on his horse like a shite on the doorstep of a royal roundhouse. I doubt he’s still a captain. If the Cailleach got hold of him, I doubt he’s still alive. No, we’ve no need to worry about Leinster’s best, nor anyone else’s. The kingdoms are in a mess, none more so than Leinster.’ Nechtan hesitated, thinking.

‘You think Leinster defenceless?’ Sharvan asked with a smile, made plain by the movement of his beard.

‘They have much to deal with before they can worry about the likes of one small fían.’

‘So, we’re free to raid?’

‘We are free to raid,’ Nechtan nodded.

As the shadows darkened, they turned off Slíghe Chualann and arrived at the closed gates of Ráth Droma, nestled in a vale back from the road. Nechtan shook his head at the wooden trunks on top of the ráth as they neared. The settlement was a picture of tranquillity, the ramparts free of guards. Nothing of the cattle raid had yet made its way this far south. The bog men and woodcutters were still unaware of their danger, which he knew would not be for long.

Things were set to change after Gáirech.

[Blog Tour] 'After Gáirech' By Micheál Cladáin #HistoricalFiction
Micheál Cladáin

Author Bio:

Micheál Cladáin studied the classics and developed a love of ancient civilizations during those studies. Learning about ancient Roman and Greek cultures was augmented by a combined sixteen years living in those societies, albeit the modern versions, in Cyprus and Italy. As such, Micheál decided to write historical fiction, trying to follow in the footsteps of such greats as Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden. Because of his Irish roots, he chose pre-Christian Ireland as his setting, rather than ancient Italy or Greece.

Micheál is a full-time writer, who lives in the wilds of Wexford with his wife and their border terriers, Ruby and Maisy.

Connect With Micheál Cladáin:

[Blog Tour] 'After Gáirech' By Micheál Cladáin #HistoricalFiction
After Gáirech - Tour Schedule Banner

8 October 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Conspiracy of Cats' by B.C Harris #Paranormal #Thriller

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[Blog Tour] 'Conspiracy of Cats' by B.C Harris #Paranormal #Thriller
Conspiracy of Cats - Tour Poster

The Book:

Conspiracy of Cats 
by B.C Harris
  • Publication Day: 26th August 2021 
  • Publisher: Olympia Publishers
  • Page Count: 325 pages
  • Genre: Paranormal/Thriller

The Blurb: 

Conspiracy of Cats… a supernatural murder mystery.

An apprehensive Jos Ferguson travels from Edinburgh to northern Tanzania to visit the house her Uncle Peter built before he died.

But Peter isn’t as dead as he should be… he was murdered, and he wants his niece to help him exact revenge upon his killer. With a little Maasai magic and a conspiracy of cats, Jos sets out to do exactly that.

A beautiful house.

A horrible death.

A brilliant revenge.

Who knew death could be so lively?
[Blog Tour] 'Conspiracy of Cats' by B.C Harris #Paranormal #Thriller
Conspiracy of Cats - Book Cover

'Conspiracy of Cats' - Excerpt:

Looking back, it was as if Peter had known that he was going to die.

It was as if all of them had known, because the Maasai came prepared for their ritual even though their little brother died only a few hours before they arrived. It was the largest group of Maasai Beola had ever encountered at the white house. At least fifty men, most of them warriors, all carrying their weapons and their shields. Their chests and faces and arms painted as if they were going into battle. She watched them from the master bedroom window, just as she’d watched the police arrive, having gone back up to finish changing the bed so it would be clean and ready when Jude returned. They arrived on foot just before sunset, and it would have taken all day to walk from their village on the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro all the way to the white house.

Some of the warriors carried armfuls of wood, and immediately began building a large fire in the middle of the lawn. The elders, including their bearded laibon, sat down on the porch steps to rest and, when Beola went out to meet them, they asked only for water. When she offered food they politely refused. When Beola moved to go back inside to fetch the water, a young warrior stopped her. ‘We must leave the white house in peace, little sister,’ he told her, and then he and several of his fellow warriors guided her towards the lodge where they fetched enough water for all. When that was done, the young warrior told her, ‘Word has been sent into the park so your husband and your son will come home soon. When they do, you must be ready to leave.’

‘But why?’

‘The laibon wishes to cleanse the white house of sorrow.’

Beola knew better than to argue with the wishes of a laibon, and so she nodded, resigned. ‘How long must we stay away?’

‘Moon die and come back again, man die and stay away. Come back with the new moon, sister.’

Back inside the lodge Beola began to pack, without any clear idea of where her family would go or who they would stay with. By then it was full dark, and the fire was burning so brightly she could see its orange glow above the garage blocking her direct view. Kissi and Ben arrived while she was still packing, in shock at both the death of their friend and the large gathering on the white house lawn. The evening breeze was becoming a wind by then, and the stars were obscured by gathering clouds. The warriors had begun to sing a sorrowful sounding song, their beautiful voices competing with the mounting voice of the wind.

By the time the Nyerere’s were readying to leave, a storm was in full flow. The perimeter of trees bent and swayed in the wind that had initially made their leaves whisper. That wind was howling and shrilling by then, a tempest that thrashed and whipped the leaves and branches. Storm clouds had gathered so close, they were piled on top of one another, grumbling, rumbling, crashing with thunder directly overhead. Lightening split the night over and over. Up on the roof garden, a solitary figure braved the onslaught. The old laibon was yelling into the night, his spells snatched away by the wind that seemed, in turns, to want to blow him away and push him down. Rain pelted down upon him, it blinded his eyes, dripped from his beard, soaked his shuka and chilled his bones. He fought against it, at the same time as he embraced it, arms stretched wide and high. Calling out, over and over, to the spirit of his friend.
[Blog Tour] 'Conspiracy of Cats' by B.C Harris #Paranormal #Thriller
B.C. Harris

Author Bio:

B C Harris is a Scot who, at the time of writing, had just finished renovating a farmhouse in France.

A labour of love that began from first sight back in 2016. No sooner had the final length of flooring been laid and the last paintbrush dried, than disaster struck in the form of pandemic. France went into a strict lockdown and, with time to do more than simply daydream about writing books, a new project began to take shape.

Writing began as an escape from the fear and isolation that was soon affecting us all, and quickly flourished to become ‘Conspiracy of Cats.’ The global pandemic seems to be receding now, but the passion for writing has taken root.

Connect With B C Harris:

4 October 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Darjeeling Inheritance' (The Colonials) By Liz Harris #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance

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[Blog Tour] 'Darjeeling Inheritance' (The Colonials) By Liz Harris #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance
Darjeeling Inheritance - Tour Banner

The Book:

Darjeeling Inheritance
(The Colonials)
By Liz Harris

  • Publication Date: 1st October 2021
  • Publisher: Heywood Press
  • Page Length: 365 pages
  • Genre: Historical Romance

The Blurb:

Darjeeling, 1930

After eleven years in school in England, Charlotte Lawrence returns to Sundar, the tea plantation owned by her family, and finds an empty house. She learns that her beloved father died a couple of days earlier and that he left her his estate. She learns also that it was his wish that she marry Andrew McAllister, the good-looking younger son from a neighbouring plantation.

Unwilling to commit to a wedding for which she doesn’t feel ready, Charlotte pleads with Dan Fitzgerald, the assistant manager of Sundar, to teach her how to run the plantation while she gets to know Andrew. Although reluctant as he knew that a woman would never be accepted as manager by the local merchants and workers, Dan agrees.

Charlotte’s chaperone on the journey from England, Ada Eastman, who during the long voyage, has become a friend, has journeyed to Darjeeling to marry Harry Banning, the owner of a neighbouring tea garden.

When Ada marries Harry, she’s determined to be a loyal and faithful wife. And to be a good friend to Charlotte. And nothing, but nothing, was going to stand in the way of that.
[Blog Tour] 'Darjeeling Inheritance' (The Colonials) By Liz Harris #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance
Darjeeling Inheritance - Book Cover 

'Darjeeling Inheritance' - Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE
March, 1930

Charlotte Lawrence stood on the short drive leading up to her family’s home and stared in surprise at the silent house.

All around her, the harsh squawking of parrots vied with the repetitive call of the brainfever bird and with the ceaseless high-pitched chatter of the small, brightly coloured birds that circled restlessly above the corrugated-iron roof of the house, just as they’d continued to do in her mind since the day, eleven years before, that she’d been sent from Sundar to go to school in England.

But the house itself was silent and still.

Puzzled, she ran her gaze from one end of the lower verandah that spanned the width of the house to the other, seeking any movement behind the screen of plant-covered bamboo trellises that shielded the verandah from the full glare of the sun.

But there was none.

She raised her eyes to the glass-fronted upper verandah, but there was no sign of anyone there, either.

Instead of the normal bustle of late-morning activity that she’d expected, an air of lethargy enveloped the house.

Taking a step back, she glanced to her right, and squinted against the strengthening sun in an attempt to see past the well-tended lawn and potting-sheds to the brick-walled area where the servants had their quarters, and to the stables beyond them. But there was no one to be seen. Or to be heard.

How strange, she thought.

Her eyes returned to the house, and she frowned slightly, a sense of unease growing within her.

She’d assumed that her father would work at home for a day or so to be sure of being there when she got back. Or that if he’d been called away, her mother would have been there.

And the servants, too. Why weren’t they around?

In all the years she’d been at school in England, she hadn’t returned to Sundar so much as once. That was a long time to be away. She knew that her ayah had left some years ago, but she’d rather thought—rather hoped, if she were truly honest—that all the servants would run out of the house the moment they heard the cart, eager to see as soon as possible how their little burra baba had grown.

She swallowed the lump of disappointment that rose in her throat.

A dull thud behind her made her jump, and she turned towards the sound. The first of their trunks had landed in the reddish-brown dust on the ground, dropped there by the elderly driver of the bullock-drawn cart which had bumpily conveyed her and her chaperone from the small railway station in Sonada.

Dust billowed up around the trunk and drifted towards her.

She coughed, and turned back to face the house before the second trunk could strike the ground. She heard it land heavily, followed by the light thump of someone jumping the short distance from the cart to the ground. A moment later, she sensed her chaperone come to her side.

‘I wonder where everyone is, Ada,’ she said, her eyes still on the house. ‘The place looks completely deserted.’

Ada followed the direction of Charlotte’s gaze. ‘I expect they’re inside and haven’t heard us.’ She raised her arm and adjusted the angle of her blue straw cloche.

Charlotte turned to her. ‘What! With the noise the axles made? They squeaked horrendously at every turn of the wheel. They must have heard us from miles away.’

‘Of course,’ Ada said quickly. ‘I wasn’t thinking, I was too busy admiring the house and its setting. It’s lovely here, Charlotte. You’re lucky to have such a home.’

Charlotte gave her a warm smile. ‘And you’ll have such a home, too, with your Mr Banning.’

‘Yes, I’m sure I will. As for your father, maybe he had to sort out a problem with the tea bushes. And the servants might be doing what they ought to be doing, but so often aren’t if they’re anything like English servants, and that’s working.’ She squeezed Charlotte’s arm. ‘Don’t worry, Charlotte dear. There’ll be a good reason why no one’s in, or if they are in, why they haven’t come out yet.’

Charlotte nodded. ‘You’re right, of course. And since Father managed to get to England twice only in all the time I was there, and I rarely saw Mother more than once a year, it’ll hardly hurt me to wait a little longer to see them. All the same … .’

She shrugged her shoulders, and glanced back at the cart. ‘As soon as the driver’s unloaded the luggage, we’ll go in and have some refreshment. I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely parched. And the smell of tea in the air is only making it worse. Also, it’s getting quite hot.’

Ada gave Charlotte a light push. ‘You go on in. I’ll take care of everything out here.’

Charlotte looked back at the house. ‘That’s very kind of you, Ada. I think I will, thank you. I must admit, I’m excited to be home at last. I’m longing to see Father again.’

Ada assumed an expression of mock amazement. ‘You don’t say! I’d never have guessed. Not even though you started counting down the hours to Sundar from the moment we sailed out of Southampton.’

Charlotte laughed. She pulled off her felt cloche, shook free the auburn hair she’d pinned with a comb on top of her head, and went up the path to the wooden steps that led to the verandah, swinging her hat at her side as she walked.

When she reached the top step, she glanced back at Ada, gave her a smile of excited anticipation, and then went up to the front door, pushed it open and stepped into the house.

Pausing in the cool of the hall, she looked around her. Then she closed her eyes, and inhaled the musky scent of sandalwood, turmeric and cardamom. Her breath escaped in a sigh of deep happiness—she was home at last, back in the place she loved, the place that part of her had never truly left.

For a minute or two she stood there motionless, her head tilted back, her eyes shut, drinking in the moment and letting delight flow through her.

Then she opened her eyes, walked along the hall to the door at the far end and opened it, half-expecting to see her father sitting in his favourite chair in the morning room.

But the room was empty of everything except the rays of the sun and the shimmering particles of dust that were trapped in the columns of light. And there was no one on the verandah outside, either.

Her anxiety returning, she went to the foot of the teak wood staircase that led to the upstairs rooms, put her hand on the newel post, and called up to the landing, ‘Is anyone there?’

The air was weighted with silence.

She let go of the bannister, went across to the far right-hand corner of the hall and pushed aside the flimsy screen made of split bamboo that concealed the opening to a small kitchen and pantry. But the kitchen, too, was empty.

Biting her lip, she went quickly across the kitchen to the back door, pushed it open and stared along the covered walkway to the main cookhouse, which stood at the entrance to the servants’ compound.

But there was no activity anywhere: not around the cookhouse; not in front of any of the houses in the compound; not on any of the small vegetable plots she could see from where she was standing.

Her heart beating fast at the strangeness of the situation, she returned to the hall, and stopped abruptly in front of the sliding doors leading to the drawing room.

A wave of relief swept through her, and her hand flew to her head.

Of course! That’s where her father would be—he’d be in his office!

His office led off the far end of the drawing room and was on the back of the house. Being in there, he wouldn’t have heard her arrive. How stupid of her—she should have gone there before anywhere else.

She went to pull aside the doors, but stopped sharply at the sound of footsteps in the drawing-room. Someone was coming towards her. It’d be her father. Her relief deepened and she moved back and stood still, waiting, a smile on her lips.

The doors opened and a tall lean man in a dust-coloured safari suit came out into the hall.

She froze. Her smile faded. ‘Who are you?’

[Blog Tour] 'Darjeeling Inheritance' (The Colonials) By Liz Harris #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance
Liz Harris

Author Bio:

Born in London, Liz Harris graduated from university with a Law degree, and then moved to California, where she led a varied life, from waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company.

Six years later, she returned to London and completed a degree in English, after which she taught secondary school pupils, first in Berkshire, and then in Cheshire.

In addition to the ten novels she’s had published, she’s had several short stories in anthologies and magazines.

Liz now lives in Oxfordshire. An active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Historical Novel Society, her interests are travel, the theatre, reading and cryptic crosswords.

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1 October 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Bloody Dominions' (The Conquest Trilogy, Book 1) By Nick Macklin #HistoricalFiction

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[Blog Tour] 'Bloody Dominions' (The Conquest Trilogy, Book 1) By Nick Macklin #HistoricalFiction
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The Book:

Bloody Dominions
(The Conquest Trilogy, Book 1)
By Nick Macklin

Publication Date: 28th June 2021
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Page Length: 368 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

Journey with those at the heart of the conflict as Caesar embarks on the tumultuous conquest of Gaul 58-51 BC. Book One 58-56 BC.

As Caesar’s campaign begins, tests of courage and belief will confront the three protagonists, shaping them as individuals and challenging their views of the world and each other:

Atticus – an impetuous but naturally gifted soldier, whose grandfather served with distinction in the legions;

Allerix – a Chieftain of the Aduatuci, who finds himself fighting both for and against Caesar; and

Epona – a fierce warrior and Allerixs’ adopted sister.

Experiencing the brutalities of conflict and the repercussions of both victory and defeat, Atticus, Allerix and Epona will cross paths repeatedly, their destinies bound together across time, the vast and hostile territories of Gaul and the barriers of fate that have defined them as enemies. In a twist of fate, Atticus and Allerix discover that they share a bond, a secret that nobody could ever foresee…

Trigger Warnings: Violence, attempted rape.

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 'Bloody Dominions' - Excerpt:

Free of his armour, Atticus set off up the slope after Garmanos. Surprisingly nimble for one so large, he was already approaching the top of the climb. Determined to close the gap, Atticus gritted his teeth and pushed on. It was hard going and he was dripping with sweat and breathing heavily as he reached Garmanos, who was by now laying prostate on the forest floor. He signalled for Atticus to do likewise and together they inched forward until they were able to peer cautiously over the ridge. Screwing up his eyes against the glare of the sun, Atticus could see that the ridge was topped with a grass-covered hollow. It was quite narrow but extended for some distance along the ridge. Garmanos nudged Atticus and gestured toward the remains of a fire in the centre of the open space. It didn’t look like it had long been extinguished. He could see the signs of several more at either end of the hollow. By the looks of it, a sizeable group had camped here and very recently too. He felt decidedly uneasy. Garmanos took one last look around and jumped to his feet. Atticus followed him down the bank and watched as he quickly surveyed the ground. He wasn’t sure how Garmanos had determined which of the paths to follow but he seemed confident enough.

“This way. But quietly. There are men and horses on this side of the hill.”

Leaving that thought hanging he set off down the path. If anything, the hill was steeper on this side but the path wound its way down the slope in a series of wide arcs sweeping between the trees and they were able to make good progress. As they rounded one of the bends, Atticus could see that the path dropped abruptly into a ditch running parallel to a wider track cutting across their own. He followed Garmanos into the ditch and was about to climb out when he felt a tug to his sleeve. Garmanos signalled for him to be quiet and pointed to a moss-covered tree trunk that had long since fallen into the ditch. Atticus wasn’t sure what was happening but he followed Garmanos as he hurriedly edged towards the tree and squeezed into the space between the upturned roots and the wall of the ditch. Garmanos pointed towards the right of the track.

“Riders. Two of them.”

Atticus hadn’t seen or heard anything but he wrapped his arms tightly around his legs and tried to make himself as small as possible. He pulled some of the larger ferns across the gap and tried to control his breathing. For a while, Atticus wondered if Garmanos had been mistaken. Then he heard the sound of hooves on the road. He swallowed nervously; they were tucked well into the bank but he still felt horribly exposed. And he would have walked right into their path if it hadn’t been for Garmanos. Perhaps he had misjudged his prowess as a guide after all. Hardly daring to move, he peered towards the path from the corner of his eye. The two riders trotted slowly into view. Warriors. They were talking animatedly as they rode but gave no indication that they had seen anything untoward. Relieved, Atticus let out a deep breath. As the riders reached the intersection of the two paths, they paused. After what seemed like a heated discussion, they set off again, continuing along the wider track, passing directly above them as they did. Atticus could hear them laughing. Garmanos waited for a few moments and quietly crawled back into the ditch. Atticus followed him out from under the roots, keeping a careful watch on the track.

“What was that all about?”

“They are looking for you and your friends. The scout must have alerted them to our presence in the forest.”

“What were they arguing about?”

“Whether they should explore the smaller path.”

“Why didn’t they?”

“The wider track was easier and…”

Garmanos paused. Atticus felt a pang of concern.

“And what?”

“They said it wouldn’t matter since you would all be dead soon enough anyway.”

Atticus’ blood ran cold. He had to warn Plautius but what about? He didn’t know how many warriors there were. He needed to know more. Fighting the impulse to head back immediately, he gestured in the direction from which the warriors had approached.

“Can we follow the track a little further?”

Garmanos seemed a little surprised at this but he shrugged and nodded his head. Remaining in the ditch for safety, they carefully moved forward. They hadn’t gone far when the path started to dip and the treeline began to thin, revealing what looked like a narrow valley nestling between the hills. It might have been a pleasant sight if the lush green fields hadn’t been filled by a huge camp. Stretching as far as the eye could see, the valley was filled with tents, wagons, horses and a growing number of enemy warriors. Those already on the plain were being jostled slowly forward as more and more spilled out from the woods on either side. Atticus was filled with a sudden sense of dread. The first of the legions would surely be arriving soon.

They were walking into a trap.

He had to get back. He nodded to Garmanos and they hurriedly set about retracing their steps. Atticus desperately wanted to break cover and use the track but he knew it increased the risk of them being spotted. He was growing ever more anxious however as they finally arrived back at the path they had originally followed. Inching up the bank, he craned his neck to see if he could detect any sign of the warriors behind them. Nothing. Yet. They might still have time. Garmanos dragged himself up the bank and with one final look he set off back up the hill. Atticus followed suit. Running for his life and those of his unsuspecting comrades on the opposite side of the hill.
[Blog Tour] 'Bloody Dominions' (The Conquest Trilogy, Book 1) By Nick Macklin #HistoricalFiction
Nick Macklin

Author Bio:

A history graduate, Nick Macklin enjoyed developing the skills that would stand him in good stead during the extensive research he conducted prior to writing his novel. Whilst the ancient world unfortunately didn’t feature to any extent in his history degree, (the result of failing miserably to secure the A level grades that would have permitted greater choice) he maintained a lifelong and profound interest in ancient history and especially the Roman Empire, continuing to read avidly as he embarked on a career in HR. Over the next 30 years or so Nick occupied a variety of Senior/Director roles, most recently in the NHS. Unsurprisingly, writing in these roles was largely confined to the prosaic demands of Board papers but Nick never lost the long-harboured belief, motivated by the works of writers such as Robert Fabbri, Robyn Young, Anthony Riches, Simon Scarrow, Matthew Harffy and Giles Kristian, that he too had a story to tell. When he was presented with a window of opportunity c3 years ago he took the decision to place his career on hold and see if he could convert that belief into reality.

Nick always knew that he wanted to set the novel against the backdrop of a significant event/period in Roman history. Looking to narrow that down to something offering the potential for meaningful character and plot development, but that hadn’t already received exhaustive coverage, he settled on Caesars tumultuous occupation of Gaul. Spanning 8 years, the prolonged clash of cultures offered ample opportunity for the kind of dual perspective from which he was hoping to tell the story, whilst the violent conflict provided a wealth of exciting material to explore the changing fortunes of war and its impact at a personal level. The switching of allegiances, nations fighting for and against Rome also provided the potential for some intriguing plot lines. As his research unfolded, he was also struck by just how heavily the Roman psyche during this period was influenced by the scare they had received 50 years earlier when Germanic tribes invaded their territories and defeated their legions. Seeing references to the veterans of that war watching their sons and grandsons enlist for a similar campaign, he started to think about developing that link on both sides of the conflict. And so, the idea for the Conquest Trilogy was born.

In Bloody Dominions Nick has sought to produce a novel in which unfolding events are experienced and described from the perspective of protagonists on both sides of Caesar’s incursion into Gaul. Conscious that the role of women in Roman fiction, Boudica aside, is largely confined to spouse, prostitute or slave, Nick wanted to ensure that one of his lead characters was female and a prominent member of the warrior clan of her tribe. The novel is driven by these characters but the framework against which their stories unfold is historically accurate, featuring actual participants in Caesar’s campaign and drawing on real events as they occurred. As such Nick is genuinely excited about his characters and the story they have to tell.

Nick lives in Exeter with his two daughters and is currently juggling work as an Independent HR Consultant with writing the second novel in the Conquest Trilogy, Battle Scars.

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28 September 2021

[Blog Tour] 'The Amber Crane' By Malve von Hassell #HistoricalFiction #Timeslip

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[Blog Tour] 'The Amber Crane' By Malve von Hassell #HistoricalFiction #Timeslip
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The Book:

The Amber Crane
By Malve von Hassell

Publication Date: 25th June 2021
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Page Length: 268 Pages
Genre: Time-slip Historical Fiction / Young Adult

The Blurb:

Chafing at the rules of the amber guild, Peter, an apprentice during the waning years of the Thirty Years’ War, finds and keeps a forbidden piece of amber, despite the risk of severe penalties should his secret be discovered.

Little does he know that this amber has hidden powers, transporting him into a future far beyond anything he could imagine. In dreamlike encounters, Peter witnesses the ravages of the final months of World War II in and around his home. He becomes embroiled in the troubles faced by Lioba, a girl he meets who seeks to escape from the oncoming Russian army.

Peter struggles with the consequences of his actions, endangering his family, his amber master’s reputation, and his own future. How much is Peter prepared to sacrifice to right his wrongs?

  • Trigger Warnings: References to rape, Holocaust, World War II, violence

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'The Amber Crane' - Excerpt:

Excerpt from Chapter 8 - LIOBA

Peter bumps against a wall. It is dark. Feeling around with his hand, he touches a metal knob. He twists it, and a door opens.

Peter stares at the sight in front of him, faintly illuminated by early morning light from a window. It is a room filled with rows of wooden tables and chairs. Peter’s eyes are drawn to a huge picture on the wall. A face with a mustache, shiny black hair combed to one side, and piercing eyes looms over the room. On a big blackboard, he can just make out two lines on top in a scraggly script, the last word missing where someone had started to wipe the board.

Oh, stranger, when you arrive in Sparta, tell of our pride
That here, obeying her behests, we –


“That here, obeying her behests, we died,” he completes the line in his mind. He had heard the lines often enough from Lorenz, who had learned them from his tutor. He had recited them to Peter over and over again at night when they sat in their beds and talked. Three hundred Spartans had died there at the battle of Thermopylae, the narrow pass where they made their last stand against tens of thousands of enemies.

Maybe this is a schoolroom, albeit an elaborate one. In the school in Stolpmünde, where Peter and Lorenz learned their letters, there are only benches without tables and a plain lectern for the teacher. Still, this space somehow smells like a schoolroom, stale and musty, evoking bored students waiting for the droning voice of the teacher to come to an end.

Startled by a soft rustling, Peter whips his head around.

The girl from his dreams is sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, wrapped in a ratty-looking blanket. She is awake.

“It’s you again.” The girl pulls up the blanket. “Are you in my dream, or am I in yours?”

“I honestly do not know,” Peter says slowly. “This is not like any dream I have ever had.”

“Well, at least you’re not a Russian soldier. Anyway, they haven’t gotten this far west yet. Are you going to vanish again in midsentence?”

“I do not even know how I got here. Why do you talk so strangely?” He could understand her, but it was like listening to someone through a thick blanket. She seemed to swallow many of her words. “Why do you keep talking about Russians? Where is this?”

“Somewhere east of Danzig.” The girl frowns at him. “You sound like someone reciting the Luther Bible.”

Peter stares at her, bewildered and shaken. The bread from his supper sits in his stomach like a rock. The long-legged beast he remembers from before gets up from behind the desk and stretches.

Peter backs up.

“Don’t worry, she won’t bite you.”

It is the tallest dog he has ever seen—if it is a dog. It comes up to Peter and starts sniffing him vigorously. He can feel its breath. Then it evidently loses interest and lies down again, its legs stretched out in front like those of a crane. The matted fur smells like a sack of dirty woolens, but it is a warm and comforting scent.

“Your dog seems real,” Peter says, eyeing the beast nervously.

“So do you—for someone in a dream.” The girl studies him. She does not seem afraid any longer. “My name is Lioba. What’s yours?”

“Peter.”

“Well, Peter, are you going to vanish again, or can we talk a bit? This is actually nice. You are the first person I have talked to in a while.” She starts to laugh. “Since you aren’t real, it’s not as if you are going to hurt me.” Then she wipes her face roughly as if irritated.

“You are crying,” Peter says.

Lioba’s hands are long and slender, but her nails are ragged and dirty.

The dog lifts its head as if in response to her distress and pushes its long nose against her leg.

Uncomfortable with Lioba’s evident anguish, Peter tries to distract her. “What sort of dog is that?”

“I think it’s a Borzoi.” Her voice sounds muffled.

“A what?”

“You know—a Russian wolfhound.”

“What do you mean, you think? This is not your dog?”

“She has been following me for weeks. You don’t have anything to eat, by any chance?” The dark shadows under Lioba’s eyes emphasize her broad cheekbones.

“Sorry.” Peter thinks of the loaf of bread Mistress Nowak had cut up for supper. Maybe the next time he goes to sleep, he should try to keep a piece of bread in his pocket.

Lioba drops the blanket and gets up. She closes the shutters of the windows and fastens them. She pulls the two panels of black fabric together, plunging the room into total darkness.

“Why are you doing this? I cannot see you.”

“Haven’t you heard of the blackout?” she scoffs.

Blackout? Bewildered, Peter hears the girl move toward the wall near the door. Suddenly, light streams from a strange lamp. At least, he thinks it is a lamp. Definitely not a candle or an oil lantern. “How did you do that?” he asks.

“Really?” Lioba scowls. “Are you making fun of me?”

“No, of course not. What is that? How did you make it glow?”

“Electricity, stupid! What century are you living in?”

“What do you mean, what century?” How dare this girl call him stupid? Clearly, she was confused. “Everybody knows that. This is the year of our Lord 1644.”

Lioba stares at him. Then her lips widen into a grin. “I don’t believe this. I am talking to someone in a dream, and he is not even from my own time.”

“Your own time?”

“Right. I don’t know about the year of our Lord 1644. This sure isn’t that. This is 1944. But I would gladly trade with you if I could.”

Three hundred years into the future. Peter reaches out to touch the wall next to him. It feels solid. The dog’s smell certainly feels real. Nothing else does in this strange, flat, dark grey world. It is as if he is standing outside, looking through the frame of a window.

Lioba frowns, folding her arms across her chest.

There is a roaring in his ears. A door bangs loudly somewhere, and everything goes dark.
[Blog Tour] 'The Amber Crane' By Malve von Hassell #HistoricalFiction #Timeslip
Malve von Hassell

Author Bio:

Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell's memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich - Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has self-published two children’s picture books, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (2012/2020) and Turtle Crossing (2021), and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay, Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures (Two Harbors Press, 2012). The Falconer’s Apprentice (namelos, 2015) was her first historical fiction novel for young adults. She has published Alina: A Song for the Telling (BHC Press, 2020), set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades, and The Amber Crane (Odyssey Books, 2021), set in Germany in 1645 and 1945. She has completed a biographical work about a woman coming of age in Nazi Germany and is working on a historical fiction trilogy featuring Adela of Normandy.

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