Showing posts with label Entertainment Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Entertainment Related. Show all posts

25 November 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Christmas at Hembry Castle' (Hembry Castle Chronicles) By Meredith Allard #HistoricalFiction

[Blog Tour] 'Christmas at Hembry Castle' (Hembry Castle Chronicles) By Meredith Allard #HistoricalFiction
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The Book:

Christmas at Hembry Castle
(Hembry Castle Chronicles)
By Meredith Allard
  • Publication Date: 1st December 2020
  • Publisher: Copperfield Press
  • Page Length: 120 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction/Victorian/Holiday

The Blurb:

You are cordially invited to Christmas at Hembry Castle.

An unlikely earl struggles with his new place. A young couple’s love is tested. What is a meddling ghost to do?

In the tradition of A Christmas Carol, travel back to Victorian England and enjoy a lighthearted, festive holiday celebration.

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[Blog Tour] 'Christmas at Hembry Castle' (Hembry Castle Chronicles) By Meredith Allard #HistoricalFiction
Christmas at Hembry Castle - Cover

'Christmas at Hembry Castle' - Excerpt:

Preparing for Christmas at Hembry Castle was a months-long affair. In September, Mrs. Graham, in consultation with the Countess of Staton and Lady Daphne, created her festive menus for breakfasts, luncheons, teas, dinners, and other celebrations from the first of December through Twelfth Night. She gathered ingredients in October and cooked and baked in November and December. Mrs. Ellis once asked Mrs. Graham how many pies she baked in a Christmas season, to which Mrs. Graham replied, “Somewhere between one hundred and ten thousand million.” Everyone always clamored for pies—mince pies, pork pies, turkey pies, pigeon pies, raised game pies, squab pies, steak and kidney pies, roast chicken pies, beef and potato pies, cheese and onion pies, and more mince pies. Mrs. Graham baked enough for the family and their many guests, enough for the villagers, enough for the farmers, enough for all England it seemed. Pies were all Mrs. Graham knew these days.

Sometimes, when Mrs. Ellis was taking tea in her sitting room, bent over the house accounts, her head popped up at the call of “Pies!” ringing from the kitchen. “Pies! Pies! Pies!” When Mrs. Ellis went to investigate, she saw Mrs. Graham and her maids elbow-deep in pastry, nutmeg, sugar, milk, eggs, suet, beef, apples, currants, raisins, brandy, and lemons. Indeed, mince pies were most popular this time of year. Mrs. Ellis always tip-toed away, leaving them to their “Pies!”

A constant stream of visitors flowed through the ancient halls of Hembry Castle throughout the month of December, and Hembry Castle would not be caught out before its guests. The maids dusted every volume in the library, buffed every droplet of the chandeliers until they gleamed, turned on the gaslights, and set glowing candles on the shelves. The footmen polished the silver and laid bowls of pomegranates, oranges, and spices on every flat surface, the scents of cinnamon and citrus filling the air. His lordship and Lady Daphne busied themselves writing Christmas cards, and Lady Daphne made a decoupage display with the colorful cards they received. Mr. Ellis was only slightly embarrassed by the arrival of a box of Christmas crackers ordered by Lady Daphne, who had been so charmed by the bon-bons and poems inside the tissue paper at her first Christmas at Hembry Castle. The butler set his wire-rimmed spectacles back on his nose, coughed, winked, then finally accepted the box from the impatient delivery boy.

Feathered trees lined the shelves, proudly displaying their cotton stars and glass ornaments. The warm spicy scents of the season were soon overpowered by the fresh greens dragged inside by the gardeners, and suddenly the midwinter wasn’t quite so bleak. Holly with its star-shaped leaves and red berries was made into wreaths for doors both inside and out. Mistletoe hung discreetly from the Roman arches, leaving giggling maids and grinning footmen scurrying when footsteps headed their way. Pine boughs lined the banisters and framed every door. Sometimes, after their guests had gone for the day, after they partook of Mrs. Graham’s scrumptious delights, as they sat before a hot fire with a good book and a cup of tea, both Frederick and Daphne found some respite from their worries. What they would not admit, even to themselves, was that Christmas at Hembry Castle in the Year of Our Lord 1871 was all a performance with Lord Staton and Lady Daphne primed for the stage. The grand old house looked festive enough, though neither the earl nor his daughter were much in the holiday spirit. Still, they played the role of Gaiety as if wearing smiling Greek masks. Father and daughter did their duty to every guest expecting a grand celebration.

Frederick and Daphne found still another reprieve when some of the farmers dragged in the tall Christmas tree, freshly chopped from the forest. Frederick meant to speak to Clayton, to say hello, to inquire after the farmer’s family, wondering if he had made it to London after all. He had heard rumors, you know, his lordship, and he wanted to be certain all was well. Clayton turned his apple face away, slightly less brown in the winter months, ignoring Lord Staton’s gestures toward anything resembling conversation.

After the tree was set upright everyone gasped as the highest point nearly touched the cathedral ceiling. By way of Prince Albert, sadly passed nearly ten years to the day now, Christmas trees had become the fashion in England and no stately home was complete for the holiday season without one. After the mess of needles was cleared away it was time to decorate with strings of sparkling beads, candies, tinsel, paper ornaments, and candles nestled within the branches. Everyone, from the maids to his lordship, laughed aloud at the lovely sight. It was, Mrs. Ellis said to a passing maid, the most beautiful tree anyone had ever seen. Hembry Castle looked, sounded, and smelled like Christmas. Then she thought of Lady Daphne and her grandson and hid her tears behind her handkerchief.

[Blog Tour] 'Christmas at Hembry Castle' (Hembry Castle Chronicles) By Meredith Allard #HistoricalFiction
Meredith Allard

Author Bio:

Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling paranormal historical Loving Husband Trilogy. Her sweet Victorian romance, When It Rained at Hembry Castle, was named a best historical novel by IndieReader. Her latest book, Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction, was named a #1 new release in Authorship and Creativity Self-Help on Amazon. When she isn’t writing she’s teaching writing, and she has taught writing to students ages five to 75. She loves books, cats, and coffee, though not always in that order. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Visit Meredith online at

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11 November 2021

[Blog Tour] "Empire’s Heir" (Empire’s Legacy, Book VI) By Marian L Thorpe #HistoricalFantasy

[Blog Tour] "Empire’s Heir" (Empire’s Legacy, Book VI) By Marian L Thorpe #HistoricalFantasy
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The Book:

Empire’s Heir
(Empire’s Legacy, Book VI)
By Marian L Thorpe
  • Publication Date: 30th August 2021
  • Publisher: Arboretum Press
  • Page Length: 438 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy

The Blurb:

Some games are played for mortal stakes.

Gwenna, heir to Ésparias, is summoned by the Empress of Casil to compete for the hand of her son. Offered power and influence far beyond what her own small land can give her, Gwenna’s strategy seems clear – except she loves someone else.

Nineteen years earlier, the Empress outplayed Cillian in diplomacy and intrigue. Alone, his only living daughter has little chance to counter the Empress's experience and skill. Aging and torn by grief and worry, Cillian insists on accompanying Gwenna to Casil.

Risking a charge of treason, faced with a choice he does not want to make, Cillian must convince Gwenna her future is more important than his – while Gwenna plans her moves to keep her father safe. Both are playing a dangerous game. Which one will concede – or sacrifice?

  • Trigger Warnings: Death, rape.

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[Blog Tour] "Empire’s Heir" (Empire’s Legacy, Book VI) By Marian L Thorpe #HistoricalFantasy
Empire’s Heir - Book Cover

Empire’s Heir - Excerpt:

© 2021 Marian L Thorpe
Here, Gwenna, one of the two narrators of Empire’s Heir, in her role as a junior trade envoy, is reporting to her superior, to be assigned work for the few weeks before she must travel to Casil, capital of the Eastern Empire, as a possible bride for the young prince.

The morning brought sunshine, and a meeting with Michan, the officer to whom I reported. He’d been one of Casyn’s adjutants, alongside my father, when my great-uncle had been Princip in the years after the Casilani had arrived; regardless, he treated me no differently than the rest of the young envoys he supervised.

We reviewed the terms of the tariff agreements I’d made with Ruar. He pursed his lips at the rate set for salt fish. “That’s very low, Gwenna.”

“But within the range I was given.”

“It is. But we’ll have to give the Varslanders the same rate, which will reduce revenues more than I would have liked.”

“Why?” I asked. “Didn’t we request more high-value goods from them? Furs and ivory and amber?”

He leant back in his chair. “Yes, but we are getting fewer of those, not more.”

“A bad winter?” I suggested, “Hunting and trapping difficult, and if the ice stayed late, amber difficult to find?”

“Possibly. But we’ve heard nothing about heavy snows or a late spring. Such hard weather would have affected northern Sorham, too, surely?”

“Then they are holding these goods back? Hoping to renegotiate prices, perhaps?”

“Perhaps. Or?”

“Or bypassing us altogether,” I said, realizing. By the terms of the treaties signed after the Taiva, the Marai brought goods only as far south as the trading harbour in Linrathe, to be transferred to Casilani ships there. It kept them away from Ésparias, their ships and men held in the north. But the sea wasn’t the only way to travel to Casil, just the fastest. “You think they are taking the river route east?”

“I’ve received no confirmation of this from our agents in Casil, but I believe that route not navigable until only a few weeks ago, so it’s not surprising.”

“Am I to investigate, while I’m there?”

“That, I think, might be difficult, given why you are going,” he said gravely. “Nonetheless, be alert.”

“Of course.” Inwardly I smiled: it would be something to do that wasn’t polite conversation and court presentation. “What is my next assignment, sir?”

“As I cannot send you away from the fort, I thought to use you here. It will be mostly translation, and tallying cargo manifests, and such. Not very interesting, I’m afraid.”

I’d spent much of the last year doing similar work—tallying, not translating—in the coastal villages, so I already knew it wasn’t, in itself, interesting. At least I’d been listening as well as auditing records, noting what was said about tax rates and prices—and in the weeks spent at Tirvan, I’d got to know my aunt Kira and my cousin Teárdh a little better. I had a good head for numbers, and I’d been trained to be precise, so the work wasn’t difficult; as well, I’d enjoyed the travel.

I suspected Michan had another motive: the opportunity to negotiate border tariffs with Linrathe had come rather early in my career, and by assigning me to mundane work, he’d be sending a message to the other young envoys that I was not being singled out for special treatment. He’d taken advantage of my rank for one situation, but it wasn’t going to be common practice.
[Blog Tour] "Empire’s Heir" (Empire’s Legacy, Book VI) By Marian L Thorpe #HistoricalFantasy
Marian L Thorpe 

Author Bio:

Essays, poetry, short stories, peer-reviewed scientific papers, curriculum documents, technical guides, grant applications, press releases – if it has words, it’s likely Marian L Thorpe has written it, somewhere along the line. But nothing has given her more satisfaction than her novels. Combining her love of landscape and history, set in a world reminiscent of Europe after the decline of Rome, her books arise from a lifetime of reading and walking and wondering ‘what if?’ Pre-pandemic, Marian divided her time between Canada and the UK, and hopes she may again, but until then, she resides in a small, very bookish, city in Canada, with her husband Brian and Pye-Cat.

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[Blog Tour] "Empire’s Heir" (Empire’s Legacy, Book VI) By Marian L Thorpe #HistoricalFantasy
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2 November 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Lies That Blind' By E.S. Alexander #HistoricalFiction

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The Book:

Lies That Blind
By E.S. Alexander
  • Publication Date: 19th October 2021
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House
  • Page Length: 304 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

What would you risk to avoid obscurity?

Malaya, 1788

Aspiring journalist Jim Lloyd jeopardises his future in ways he never could have imagined. He risks his wealthy father’s wrath to ride the coat-tails of Captain Francis Light, an adventurer governing the East India Company’s new trading settlement on Penang. Once arrived on the island, Jim—as Light’s assistant—hopes that chronicling his employer’s achievements will propel them both to enduring fame. But the naïve young man soon discovers that years of deception and double-dealing have strained relations between Light and Penang’s legal owner, Sultan Abdullah of Queda, almost to the point of war. Tensions mount: Pirate activity escalates, traders complain about Light’s monopolies, and inhabitants threaten to flee, fearing a battle the fledgling settlement cannot hope to win against the Malays. Jim realises that a shared obsession with renown has brought him and Light perilously close to infamy: a fate the younger man, at least, fears more than death. Yet Jim will not leave Penang because of his dedication to Light’s young son, William, and his perplexing attraction to a mercurial Dutchman. He must stay and confront his own misguided ambitions as well as help save the legacy of a man he has come to despise.

Inspired by true events, Lies That Blind is a story featuring historical character Francis Light (1740-1794) who, in an effort to defy his mortality, was seemingly willing to put the lives and livelihoods of a thousand souls on Penang at risk.
[Blog Tour] 'Lies That Blind' By E.S. Alexander #HistoricalFiction
Lies That Blind - Book Cover

'Lies That Blind' - Excerpt:

(Protagonist, Jim Lloyd, has just arrived on the island of Penang to begin work for his new employer, Captain Francis Light, the island’s superintendent.)

George Town, Penang. Wednesday, 7th January 1789.

Captain Light announced that we had arrived at my lodgings, and that he would speak first with the Chinese owner, a relative of their headman or ‘Kapitan China’, Koh Lay Huan. My face sank in disappointment. I had not expected to lodge with Captain Light, of course, nor did I wish to stay in the barracks with a bunch of unruly sepoys, but I would not have chosen to live among the Chinese whose language I did not know and who, from my experience of the ones who lived among us in Calcutta, were rather too fond of setting off firecrackers for no good reason, and whose constant burning of incense I did not like.

My new employer disappeared around a corner where I heard the knocking of knuckles on wood, some brisk chatter, followed swiftly by the closing of a door. When Light reappeared, he was scowling. “It seems word did not get passed to the right people after all. I suggest you wait here, Jim, while I seek out the Chinese towkay to resolve this.”

“Captain Light?” I said, before he had a chance to stride off. “Might it be possible to lodge in Malay Town since the Chinese landlord appears not to be expecting me?”

Light looked startled. “Whyever would you wish to do that?”

I shuffled my feet and looked down with some embarrassment. “After arriving in India, I became fascinated by the history of the Mughal Empire, whose bloodline I have come to learn goes back to Jenghiz Khan.”

“Malays are not related to the Mughals,” snapped Light.

“Yes, sir, I am aware of that. But both groups are Mohammedans and I wish to understand that religion and culture better. I had hoped that residing here would afford me such an opportunity as well as help to improve my Malay. Not least since we will presumably be in constant communication with the sultan and his wakils.”

Light made a scoffing sound and pointed out that there was a difference between the language written and spoken in the court and that used by the rakyat in the streets. I replied that knowing everyday Malay would still give me an advantage with Penang’s local population.

“You realize you are asking to reside among pirates, Jim,” barked Light.

“I did not think that would be the case,” I responded with more of an edge to my voice than I had intended. Why was this so difficult for him to understand?

“Then allow me to offer some background that will change your mind.” Light sighed. “The Malays may be divided into two orders: those who are inoffensive and easily ruled but capable of no great exertion beyond planting paddy, sugar cane, and a few fruit trees for which no great labour is required. Then there are those who skulk in rivers and bays in their prahus, watching for the unwary trader whose goods they plunder. Addicted to smoking opium, gaming, and other vices, they spend their whole time in sloth and indolence, only rousing themselves when an opportunity presents itself to rob and assassinate with abandon.” Light barely took a breath before continuing. “The feudal government of the Malays encourages these pirates, since every chief is desirous of procuring these desperate fellows to bring him plunder and execute his revengeful purposes.”

Like a court prosecutor confident that his summation would return a guilty verdict, Captain Light looked at me, but obviously did not expect this reply: “I am still interested to live among the Malays, sir, if the additional distance to their township would not cause you too much extra exertion.”

Light’s face appeared to darken as if a rain cloud had singled him out. His eyes narrowed and his voice seemed to chill the surrounding air. “I already have three sets of antagonists: Sultan Abdullah of Queda grows increasingly impatient over the treaty we had expected by now would be ratified by London and Bengal; Lord Cornwallis, whose notorious parsimony prevents me from investing in further benefits to this new settlement and appears ignorant of the fact that a rising settlement cannot be expected to yield much profit; and our European enemies, the Dutch, who eye my success here with increasing jealousy and hatred.

I should not venture to trust myself alone with the Malays, on account of their treacherous nature. But I am beleaguered enough without battling you over where you choose to lodge. Should you decide to ignore my expert opinion, that is up to you. Just be sure you arrive promptly at Fort Cornwallis tomorrow morning.” And with that, Francis Light turned on his heels and hurried off.

Had it not been for my surprise at Light’s explosive reaction I might have bolted after him to say that I would lodge with the Chinese after all. But I became as rooted to the spot as a tree. I imagined the captain was tired and had not wished to walk further on to Malay Town so watched him grow more miniscule with each lengthening stride.

Disappointed at this inauspicious start to my employment, I determined to apply myself with the utmost energy and diligence so that I might demonstrate my value to Penang’s superintendent the very next day. I truly desired to be helpful to Captain Light but should never forget that he needed me just as much as I needed him. After all, I had just freed myself from the yoke of one oppressor who sought to constrain my personal liberty, I did not need to substitute Father with Captain Francis Light.

With that thought, I turned heel myself and made towards Malay Town, confident that I had sufficient language to make myself understood and enough money to pay for a bed and food. As I grew closer to the kampong, past a smattering of fierce-looking Armenians, I began to doubt the wisdom of my stubbornness. If Light was right about the piratical Malays, I might end up with my throat cut before morning.

[Blog Tour] 'Lies That Blind' By E.S. Alexander #HistoricalFiction
E.S. Alexander 

Author Bio:

E.S. Alexander was born in St. Andrews, Scotland in 1954, although her family moved to England a few years later. Her earliest memories include producing a newspaper with the John Bull printing set she was given one Christmas. She wrote and directed her first play, Osiris, at age 16, performed to an audience of parents, teachers, and pupils by the Lower Fifth Drama Society at her school in Bolton, Lancashire. Early on in her writing career, Liz wrote several short stories featuring ‘The Dover Street Sleuth’, Dixon Hawke for a D.C. Thomson newspaper in Scotland. Several of her (undoubtedly cringe-worthy) teenage poems were published in An Anthology of Verse.

Liz combined several decades as a freelance journalist writing for UK magazines and newspapers ranging from British Airway’s Business Life and the Daily Mail, to Marie Claire and Supply Chain Management magazine, with a brief stint as a presenter/reporter for various radio stations and television channels, including the BBC. In 2001 she moved to the United States where she earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in educational psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.

She has written and co-authored 17 internationally published, award-winning non-fiction books that have been translated into more than 20 languages.

In 2017, Liz relocated to Malaysia. She lives in Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang where she was inspired to embark on one of the few forms of writing left for her to tackle: the novel.

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[Blog Tour] 'Lies That Blind' By E.S. Alexander #HistoricalFiction
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29 October 2021

[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook

[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
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The Book: 

(Widdershins, Book 1)
By Helen Steadman
Narrated by Christine Mackie

The Blurb:

The new audio book of Widdershins is narrated brilliantly by talented actor, Christine Mackie, from Downton Abbey, Coronation Street, Wire in the Blood, and so on.

The first part of a two-part series, Widdershins is inspired by the Newcastle witch trials, where 16 people were hanged. Despite being the largest mass execution of witches on a single day in England, these trials are not widely known about. In August 1650, 15 women and one man were hanged as witches after a Scottish witchfinder found them guilty of consorting with the devil. This notorious man was hired by the Puritan authorities in response to a petition from the Newcastle townsfolk who wanted to be rid of their witches.

Widdershins is told through the eyes of Jane Chandler, a young woman accused of witchcraft, and John Sharpe, the witchfinder who condemns her to death. Jane Chandler is an apprentice healer. From childhood, she and her mother have used herbs to cure the sick. But Jane soon learns that her sheltered life in a small village is not safe from the troubles of the wider world. From his father’s beatings to his uncle’s raging sermons, John Sharpe is beset by bad fortune. Fighting through personal tragedy, he finds his purpose: to become a witchfinder and save innocents from the scourge of witchcraft.

Praise for Widdershins:
The Historical Novel Society said of Widdershins: “
Impeccably written, full of herbal lore and the clash of ignorance and prejudice against common sense, as well as the abounding beauty of nature, it made for a great read. There are plenty of books, both fact and fiction, available about the witch-trial era, but not only did I not know about such trials in Newcastle, I have not read a novel that so painstakingly and vividly evokes both the fear and joy of living at that time.

Trigger Warnings:
Domestic abuse, rape, torture, execution, child abuse, animal abuse, miscarriage, death in childbirth.
[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Widdershins - dark and haunting

Buy Links:

[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Widdershins - audio cover

'Widdershins' - Excerpt:

[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Helen Steadman

Author Bio:

Dr Helen Steadman is a historical novelist. Her first novel, Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise were inspired by the Newcastle witch trials. Her third novel, The Running Wolf was inspired by a group of Lutheran swordmakers who defected from Germany to England in 1687.

Despite the Newcastle witch trials being the largest mass execution of witches on a single day in England, they are not widely known about. Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the cunning women in Widdershins and Sunwise, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries.

The Running Wolf is the story of a group of master swordmakers who left Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword. During her archive research, Helen uncovered a lot of new material and she published her findings in the Northern History journal.

Helen is now working on her fourth novel.

Connect With Helen Steadman:

[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
Narrator, Christine Mackie

Audiobook Narrator Bio:

Christine Mackie has worked extensively in TV over the last thirty years in well-known TV series such as Downton Abbey, Wire in the Blood, Coronation Street, French & Saunders and The Grand. Theatre work includes numerous productions in new writing as well as classics, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Comedy of Errors, Richard III, An Inspector Calls, and the Railway Children. In a recent all women version of Whisky Galore, Christine played three men, three women and a Red Setter dog!
[Audio Blog Tour] 'Widdershins' (Widdershins, Book 1) By Helen Steadman Narrated by Christine Mackie #HistoricalFiction #Witches #Audiobook
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26 October 2021

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

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

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[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:

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21 October 2021

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

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

(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
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'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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