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

26 October 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash' By Tammy Pasterick #HistoricalFiction

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[Blog Tour] 'Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash'  By Tammy Pasterick #HistoricalFiction
Beneath The Veil of Smoke and Ash - Tour Banner

The Book:

Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash
By Tammy Pasterick
  • Publication Date: 21st September 2021
  • Publisher: She Writes Press
  • Page Length: 371 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

It’s Pittsburgh, 1910—the golden age of steel in the land of opportunity. Eastern European immigrants Janos and Karina Kovac should be prospering, but their American dream is fading faster than the colors on the sun-drenched flag of their adopted country. Janos is exhausted from a decade of twelve-hour shifts, seven days per week, at the local mill. Karina, meanwhile, thinks she has found an escape from their run-down ethnic neighborhood in the modern home of a mill manager—until she discovers she is expected to perform the duties of both housekeeper and mistress. Though she resents her employer’s advances, they are more tolerable than being groped by drunks at the town’s boarding house.

When Janos witnesses a gruesome accident at his furnace on the same day Karina learns she will lose her job, the Kovac family begins to unravel. Janos learns there are people at the mill who pose a greater risk to his life than the work itself, while Karina—panicked by the thought of returning to work at the boarding house—becomes unhinged and wreaks a path of destruction so wide that her children are swept up in the storm. In the aftermath, Janos must rebuild his shattered family—with the help of an unlikely ally.

Impeccably researched and deeply human, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash delivers a timeless message about mental illness while paying tribute to the sacrifices America's immigrant ancestors made.

Buy Links:

[Blog Tour] 'Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash'  By Tammy Pasterick #HistoricalFiction
Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash - Book Cover

'Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash' - Excerpt:

As Sofie followed the narrow trail at the edge of town that led to her favorite fishing spot, she heard the roar of an angry river. The morning’s thunderstorm had left the river swollen and had strengthened its already swiftly moving currents. She immediately spotted Pole leaning against a hazelnut tree with three carp on his stringer. Though he was a few months shy of his thirteenth birthday, he looked older due to his height and muscular build. His wavy, brown hair was disheveled, and his flannel shirt was covered in dirt.

“How did you catch three fish already?”

“I skipped my Slovak lesson. Couldn’t really see the point,” Pole said in his most rebellious tone.

“The point is to preserve our heritage. I like learning about our culture and language.”

“Your parents may be Slovak, but you’re American, Sofie. You were born here. Besides, I’m only half Slovak, and that’s not my favorite side. I like bein’ Polish better.”

“I know, Pole,” Sofie said sarcastically.

Pole’s defiant nature sometimes irritated her, but he had good reason to be bitter. His mother died two years earlier, and all he had left was a drunken father. John Stofanik worked at the mill and made Sofie’s father uneasy. He worried that Stofanik would fall into a pot of molten steel, or worse, he would be responsible for someone else’s death.

Pole was currently wearing a nasty shiner, and Sofie didn’t need to ask where it came from. Even if she did, Pole would invent a ridiculous story. He was ashamed of his father, and who could blame him? That drunk was the reason Pole rejected his Slovak heritage and embraced his mother’s Polish one.

“I saw your mama on her way to work this morning. Does she always leave that early?”

“Sometimes. She doesn’t seem to mind though,” Sofie said, trying not to sound angry. She resented the fact that her mother was more devoted to her job than her family. Mama had practically sprinted out the door that morning to impress the men from Pittsburgh. Sofie was still upset about the comment her mother had made about her hair. Suddenly, a disturbing thought popped into her head. Mama doesn’t think I’m pretty. Was that the reason she never paid her any attention?

“Must be paradise cookin’ and cleanin’ for Mr. Archer all day in a house like that. How’d she get so lucky?” Pole picked up his tin can full of worms and handed it to Sofie.

She grabbed the can and gave him a dirty look.

“I guess that was a stupid question. Who wouldn’t prefer a pretty lady washin’ their drawers over an ugly one? Your mama’s a looker.” Pole brushed some dirt off his knee and gazed across the river. “You know, you have her blonde hair and blue eyes.”

“I’d rather have a fat, ugly mother who loves me.” Sofie bit her lip and angrily baited her hook with a worm. The poor creature bore the brunt of her frustration.

“At least you’ve got your papa. He’s a good man. I’d trade my pop in any day for yours.” Pole sighed and stared at his fishing rod.

The two sat quietly for several minutes, tending their fishing poles. The top of her head growing warm, Sofie looked up to see an exceptionally bright sun beating down upon her. The sky over Riverton was usually filled with too much smoke to see the sun, but the morning’s thunderstorm had cut down the haze.

Sofie turned her attention to the river and watched the afternoon sunlight sparkle on its ever-changing surface. It was mesmerizing. The little twinkles of light danced among the currents, carrying her upsetting thoughts away with them downstream. Sofie inhaled deeply as she caught the scent of wild lilacs in the gentle breeze. She leaned toward the ground to smell the earthworms and wet grass. She was suddenly calm and content.

A strong tug at the end of Sofie’s fishing line interrupted her reverie. She tightened her grip on her rod and began to reel in what she imagined was an enormous beast. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead as she jerked her rod while fighting her way backwards up the riverbank. The fish was tenacious, yanking so hard on Sofie’s line she feared it might snap. She was encouraged when her adversary’s head emerged from the water several minutes into the battle, but it quickly fought its way back to its murky domain. Sofie cursed under her breath.

“Need a hand?” Pole asked from behind her.

“No, I’ve got him,” she said, grunting. Determined to conquer her dinner, Sofie gritted her teeth and gave her rod one last forceful jerk. She squealed as the fish sailed through the air and landed in the grass at Pole’s feet.

“That’s a monster!” he shouted.

Sofie leapt with joy at the sight of the carp. It was nearly as long as her arm. She rushed over to Pole to retrieve her prize.

“Let me put it on the stringer for you, Sof,” he said, holding the fish. “You catch your breath.”

As Pole busied himself with the stringer, Sofie found herself staring at her best friend instead of her fish. “How lucky would we be if we lived together in a house with my father and your mother?” she wondered aloud. “If she were still alive, of course. We’d have the perfect family.” Sofie had always wished for a mother as sweet and thoughtful as Pole’s. She often had freshly baked cookies waiting for them when they returned from fishing. And she gave the best hugs.

“Sounds nice, but there’s no use daydreamin’ about things that can never be.”

Sofie frowned, disappointed in Pole’s lack of imagination.

“Aww, come on.” He laid a hand on her shoulder. “I’m not tryin’ to be mean. I just think you’re better off keeping your head out of the clouds. You gotta deal with the reality you’ve got.”

Sofie thought about her awkward interaction with her mother that morning and her poor excuse for not wanting to visit the neighbors. It was nothing out of the ordinary. Mama was always looking for ways to avoid her family. Sofie doubted it would ever change.

“Wipe that frown off your face and look at the size of this fish you caught,” Pole said, holding up the stringer. “Wait until your papa sees it. He won’t believe his eyes.”

Sofie glanced at the enormous carp and then studied Pole’s face. “Why do you look so proud? You didn’t catch that fish.”

“No, but I wish I did.” Pole chuckled. “I’m proud of you, Sof. Now let’s hurry up and catch a few more. I can’t wait to get back to town to show off this beast.”

Sofie blushed as she shoved a hook through a worm. She suddenly couldn’t remember what had been troubling her minutes earlier.

[Blog Tour] 'Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash'  By Tammy Pasterick #HistoricalFiction
Tammy Pasterick

Author Bio:

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Tammy Pasterick grew up in a family of steelworkers, coal miners, and Eastern European immigrants. She began her career as an investigator with the National Labor Relations Board and later worked as a paralegal and German teacher. She holds degrees in labor and industrial relations from Penn State University and German language and literature from the University of Delaware. She currently lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore with her husband, two children, and chocolate Labrador retriever.

Connect WithTammy Pasterick:

[Blog Tour] 'Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash'  By Tammy Pasterick #HistoricalFiction
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21 October 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Redemption' (The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2) By Philip Yorke #HistoricalFiction #EnglishCivilWar

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[Blog Tour] 'Redemption' (The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2) By Philip Yorke #HistoricalFiction #EnglishCivilWar
Redemption - Blog Tour Banner

The Book:

Redemption
(The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2)
By Philip Yorke
  • Publication Date: 2nd July 2021
  • Publisher: Mashiach Publishing
  • Page Length: 480 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

Saturday, the second day of July, in the year of our Lord, 1644, will be a day long remembered by the men and women committed to ending the reign of a tyrannical King. For on this day, the forces of Charles the First were crushed on the bloody fields of Marston Moor.

The calamitous defeat forces the increasingly desperate Royalists to intensify their attempts to bring about the immediate demise of their Parliamentarian enemies. This includes devising an audacious plan to assassinate the man they believe is key to the war’s outcome.

With the plotters ready to strike, Francis Hacker, one of Parliament’s most loyal soldiers, becomes aware of the conspiracy. With little time to act, he does everything in his power to frustrate their plans. But, alas, things start to unravel when brave Hacker finds himself pitted against a ruthless and cunning mercenary, a man who will resort to anything to achieve a ‘kill’.
[Blog Tour] 'Redemption' (The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2) By Philip Yorke #HistoricalFiction #EnglishCivilWar
Redemption - book cover

'Redemption' - Excerpt:

It is past midnight and the songbirds retired to their treetop roosts long before I set about seeking comfort and solace in this quiet, grief-stricken place.

I am sitting in a large, sterile room. My thoughts are my own, as I have little to occupy my mind other than study lines of terracotta, web-encrusted bricks that make up the interior wall of a building hastily commandeered to house Parliament’s most senior officers, the men who masterminded the full-scale destruction of the King’s army some two days since.

From where I am sitting, I have spent a couple of hours scrutinising the crumbling, blistered masonry, measuring every line of mortar, and identifying line after line of imperfection and weakness. While doing so, I have wished and prayed for the torment that afflicts my companion to cease, so he and I can celebrate the magnificent victory he led us to, one that may have swung the tide of this brutal war firmly in our favour.

Alas, it will not be so. Merriment and revelry are the last things my friend has on his mind.

Hundreds of rotting, naked Royalist corpses, stripped bare of anything valuable and with their dignity on show for all to see, still litter the bloody killing fields less than three miles away, on the grasslands of Marston. They are waiting to join the thousands who have already been buried in mass pits, with no marker or recognition offered for their courage and sacrifice. In these cruel times, a final resting place, hidden amongst the bracken and many miles from their loved ones, is all that is afforded the vanquished.

The moorland, a nondescript place just south of York, is the site of the first significant victory for those opposing the King's autocratic regime. And, at a time when we should be toasting the heroism and courage of our troops, ordinary men who have bested their social superiors, I find I have little choice but to surrender as the chill of the summer’s morn starts to torment my aching bones.

I am impotent, unable to play the part of the comforter. And I feel wretched.

My gaze falls on the man I respect more than any other in this violent and turbulent world.

Oliver Cromwell is Lieutenant-General of the Eastern Association army. He is also my friend.

Magnificent on the field of battle, Oliver now sits before me a broken man, no longer the powerful, all-conquering soldier who has just blooded a Sovereign's nose. Tonight he is closer to resigning his commission than ever before. He has been tested many times already in the turbulent months since Charles raised his standard at Nottingham. Tearful and angry, he is no longer the warrior hero his devoted men perceive him to be.

The source of his distress is the double dose of tragedy that has befallen him and his family.

In the battle that saw Prince Rupert’s finest men routed as a direct result of Cromwell’s strategic brilliance and bravery, Oliver’s nephew, Valentine Walton, was killed.

A cannonball sliced through the young man’s leg while he was leading a charge against the enemy. Despite his best efforts, the field surgeon could do nought for him, so the limb was lost, as was much of the young man’s precious blood, which bathed the fields of Yorkshire in garnet gemstone red.

After the hacksaw that sliced through Valentine's bone had been wiped clean, the young man's life force quickly ebbed away, condemning him to the same fate that awaited many comrades that day – men like Major Charles Fairfax and Captains Micklethwaite and Pugh. All fought and died so bravely for the cause we all serve.

Cromwell has spent the last few hours writing a letter conveying the terrible news to his brother-in-law, the dead officer’s father, a man who also carries the name of Valentine Walton.

"What say you, Francis? How does this read, is it any better than my previous inadequate attempts?" whispers Oliver, his voice barely audible as he holds the manuscript with a shaking hand. He moves a flickering candle closer, allowing its dancing flames to offer an illuminating shroud of light.

“Tell me, truthfully, friend, do my words offer the comfort and love that is intended and needed at this most terrible of times?”

Brushing aside several sheets of paper, Cromwell rises from the table and steadies himself. He turns to face me. His eyes are swollen. Deep folds of skin hang like sacks underneath his sockets. Grief has taken its toll. He pauses for a moment and then slowly starts to recount the few short sentences that will surely bring further miseries to another unsuspecting family.

“Dear Sir,

“It is our duty to sympathise in all mercies, that we may praise the Lord together, in chastisements or trials, so we may sorrow together.

“Truly England and the church of God hath had a great favour from the Lord in this great victory, given unto us such as the like never was since this war began. It had all the evidences of an absolute victory obtained by the Lord’s blessing upon the godly. We never charged, but we routed the enemy. The left-wing, which I commanded, being our own horse, saving a few Scots in our rear, beat all the Prince's horse. God made them as stubble to our swords; we charged their Regiments of foot with our horse, routed all we charged. The particulars I cannot relate now, but I believe of twenty thousand, the Prince hath not four thousand left. Give glory, all the glory to God.

“Sir, God hath taken away your eldest son by a cannon shot. It broke his leg. We were necessitated to have it cut off, whereof he died.

“Sir, you know my trials this way, but the Lord supported me with this, and the Lord took him into the happiness we all pant after and live for.

“There is your precious child, full of glory, to know sin nor sorrow any more.

“He was a gallant young man, exceedingly gracious. God give you his comfort. Before his death, he was so full of comfort; it was so great above his pain. This he said to us. Indeed it was admirable. A little after, he said one thing lay upon his spirit. I asked him what that was. He told me that it was that God had not suffered him to be no more the executioner of his enemies.

"At his fall, his horse being killed with the bullet and, as I am informed, three horses more, I am told, he bid them open to the right and left, that he might see the rogues run. Truly he was exceedingly beloved in the Army of all that knew him, but few knew him, for he was a precious young man, fit for God.

“You have cause to bless the Lord. He is a glorious saint in heaven, wherein you ought exceedingly to rejoice. Let this drink up your sorrow, seeing these are not feigned words to comfort you, but the thing is so real and undoubted a truth. You may do all things by the strength of Christ. Seek that, and you shall easily bear your trial.

“Let this public mercy to the church of God make you forget your private sorrow. The Lord be your strength, so prays your truly faithful and loving brother…”


As he reaches out and puts the letter on the desk, I can clearly see the tears flowing steadily down Oliver’s reddened face, staining his doublet and the shirt beneath. His acute distress is plain to see.

“Is it suffice, dear friend?” he enquires of me. “Is it the epitaph and encourager I hope it to be?”

I nod my head in approval, saying: “Words are inadequate at moments like these, Oliver. You know that as well as I. Yet what you have written will be a true source of comfort. They will know their son died bravely, like the martyr he is.”

For the briefest of moments, a flicker of contentment flashes in Oliver’s eyes. Then it is gone.

“Thank you for your forbearance, Francis,” he adds. “I may make some further, minor amendments, but I think it will do. It will have to. I must write to more unfortunate people who have suffered the loss of loved ones, and there are also campaigning matters to consider.”

I have never met Valentine’s mother, but I am told her son was the embodiment of her. All members of the Cromwell family have the same distinctive physical features: a prominent nose and a full, strong forehead. They are also the bravest of people. Margaret, Valentine’s mother, is cut from this rock. So, too, is her brother, Oliver, the rising star of the Parliamentary army.

[Blog Tour] 'Redemption' (The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2) By Philip Yorke #HistoricalFiction #EnglishCivilWar
Philip Yorke

Author Bio:

Philip Yorke is an award-winning former Fleet Street journalist who has a special interest in history. His Hacker Chronicles series, to be told in five fast-paced historical fiction novels, tells the story of Parliamentarian soldier, Francis Hacker.

Redemption, the second book in the series, is set during the period 1644-46 (
during the first English Civil War), when events take a significant turn in favour of Parliament.

Philip is married, and he and his wife have five children. He enjoys relaxing to classical music, reading the works of Nigel Tranter, Bernard Cornwell, Robyn Young and CJ Sansom, and supporting Hull City FC and Leicester Tigers RFC.

He lives in Leicestershire, England.

Connect With Philip Yorke:

[Blog Tour] 'Redemption' (The Hacker Chronicles, Book 2) By Philip Yorke #HistoricalFiction #EnglishCivilWar
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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.

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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.

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

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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
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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.

Connect with Liz Harris:

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