April 27, 2015

Roy T. Humphreys' Patrick's Journey - Guest Post

Patrick’s Journey is an historical fiction novel that is based on the real life history of my great grandfather (6 times removed). I first heard about his story at a family reunion many years ago and was captivated by the dramatic changes he experienced during his life’s journey (hence the title).

This was a story just waiting to be told, one of those where fact can seem stranger than fiction. However, I was constantly wondering about what his emotional journey must have been like. Nobody could have experienced the quantum shifts in circumstances that he did without having an equivalent "journey" of emotions. There had already been a number of historical articles published about him and so I decided I would deviate from the traditional approach and publish something that encompassed his emotional journey as well. Historical fiction was the obvious answer and so on retirement I embarked on a project that was to last the best part of eighteen months.

I soon found there was ample incidental history published about the times in which he lived. For example, there are numerous documents covering the United Irishmen and their struggle for independence. While Patrick's conviction papers refer to a civil matter (theft) there was an endorsement on one court document describing him as an "Irish Rebel". It wasn't hard to conjure circumstances that interwove a United Irishmen connection to his arrest and trial and tie that back to our family folklore which insists his punishment was a British Military "get square" for a dispute involving the family cow.

Similarly, there is considerable information published about the convict ship Boddington on which he was transported to Australia. In some ways Patrick was a lucky man. The Boddington was one of the first ships to adopt new hygiene and humanitarian measures designed to curb the appalling death rate amongst convicts being transported to the penal colony of New South Wales. There is significant mention of an attempted mutiny on the Boddington. However, while some papers name the would be mutineers, other publications claim the voyage was incident free. Mutiny or not, the prospect was too tempting for this author not to include the concept in the story and tie it in to Patrick's change of fortune following the serving of his sentence.

Many of the characters in the story are based on real people who lived their lives in Patrick's world. Others, such are the prime villain of the story, are purely figments of my imagination but hopefully they add entertainment without detracting from the historical content of the tale. There is an epilogue at the end of the book which provides details of the true history behind the story and of the characters which appear in it.

My hope is to entertain readers while at the same time keep the memory of my ancestor alive.

About the book
Patrick Rourke is a 17 year old Irishman in the year of 1790. Like many young men he is patriotic, adventurous and headstrong. He also feels assured of a bright future with his sweetheart Catherine. Patrick’s world comes crashing down around him when he becomes a pawn in the political aspirations of the United Irishmen under Wolfe Tone. He finds himself in prison sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of New South Wales and begins a downward spiral into rage and depression.

Patrick’s saviour comes in the form of Father Michael O’Court, the chaplain of the prison ship Boddington. Over time Patrick is guided out of his depression and is able to accept the vastly different directions that his life’s journey has taken. He also finds an unlikely mentor in one Preston Balfour, a British Army officer who was originally his target for assassination, but who ultimately provides him with the means of restoring his life in a new land. 

Patrick’s life is complete when tragic circumstances eventually lead to him being reunited with Catherine for a new life in a new land. He comes to realise that the most important journey we travel is not measured in miles but by our changes within. 

Patrick’s Journey is a work of fiction, but is based on the real life history of the author’s great (6 times removed) grandfather. 

Authors Note: 
Patrick’s Journey is a work of fiction and should only be viewed as such. However, it’s inspiration comes from the history of my great-grandfather (six times removed) about who we know the following: 

Patrick Humphreys was born in Wicklow County, Ireland in 1774. He was tried in 1791 in Dublin, found guilty of stealing and sentenced to 7yrs transportation to Australia. 

Family folklore maintains that Patrick was arrested on a “trumped-up” charge as a result of a clash between him and the local British Redcoats over a dispute involving the family cow. 

Prior to his arrest Patrick was “keeping company” with Catherine Mooney but their teenage romance was torn apart when he was sent overseas. Catherine eventually married another local lad, Terrence McMahon who took a position as a convict ship guard and ended up travelling to Australia with Catherine in 1800. Here they were reunited with Patrick who had completed his sentence and joined the NSW Corps. Terrence tragically drowned in Sydney harbour in 1801. Patrick and Catherine were married in Sydney on 28th February 1802 and lived long and fruitful lives raising a large family and establishing significant land holdings at Watsons Bay and Kincumber.

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Positive review at Historical Novel Society
Buy the book on Amazon

About the author
Roy Humphreys is retired (from paid work) and lives with wife Denise and daughter Rachael in the southern suburbs of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

His primary focus is now his family (four children, 8 grandchildren). He also finds time for running (cross country in the Royal National Park area), fishing and, sometimes, writing.

Patrick's Journey is based on the real life story of his great grandfather, 6 generations back, that he heard about at a family reunion many years ago. It was a story that he felt needed telling, but never had the time until retirement came in 2012.

April 25, 2015

Spotlight on Anna Belfrage's To Catch a Falling Star

Publication Date: March 1, 2015
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Book Eight, The Graham Saga
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip

To Catch a Falling Star is the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Some gifts are double-edged swords …
For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option.
Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours.
While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant 

Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet.
All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes.
Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?

Buy To Catch a Falling Star
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Graham Saga Titles
Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star

About the Author
I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … 

Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.
I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook,Twitter, and Goodreads.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/tocatchafallingstarblogtour/
Hashtags: #ToCatchaFallingStarBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #GrahamSaga
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @Anna_Belfrage

April 23, 2015

Spotlight on David Morrell's Inspector of the Dead with Guest Post by Robert Morrison

Thomas De Quincey and the Afflictions of Childhood

Action and brilliant twists of plot are at the crux of David Morrell’s two historical thrillers, Murder as a Fine Art and Inspector of the Dead, both of which are set in 1850s London, and both of which feature assassins whose killing sprees are as ingenious as they are ruthless. What sets the two novels decisively apart from other Victorian murder mysteries, though, is the fictionalized presence of Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859), the notorious English author and opium addict.

Morrell seamlessly weaves details from De Quincey’s writings into the fabric of both novels, but he also exploits in full the circumstances of De Quincey’s remarkable life, as indeed De Quincey himself did in some of his finest essays. Born into prosperity, De Quincey exhausted his patrimony by the time he was 30 (primarily because he could not stop buying books), and spent much of the next forty years harried by debt and debt collectors. He read widely as a boy, and acquired a reputation as a brilliant classicist, especially in Greek. At 17 De Quincey bolted from Manchester Grammar School, and spent four harrowing months penniless and hungry on the streets of London. He entered Oxford University in 1803, but left five years later without taking his degree and moved to the English Lake District to be near his two literary idols, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In 1813 De Quincey became dependent on opium, a drug he started experimenting with during his student days at Oxford, and over the next few years he sank deeper into debt and addiction, before launching himself as a professional writer.

It is, however, the close ties of his family life that most clearly fascinate Morrell. Death cast a terrible blight on De Quincey as a very young boy, and in many ways he never fully recovered. Before he was 8 he had lost his sister Jane, his father, and then another sister, Elizabeth, who was his dearest childhood friend, and whose sudden passing never ceased to haunt him. His portrait of Ann of Oxford Street, the young London prostitute he met as a teenage runaway, and his overwhelming sorrow at the death in 1812 of Wordsworth’s three-year-old daughter Catherine, are clearly shaped by his grief over Elizabeth’s death, as is Suspiria de Profundis (“Sighs from the Depths”), De Quincey’s great 1845 sequel to his Confessions.

In Murder as a Fine Art, Morrell memorably conjures the anguish of these losses in the scene where De Quincey enters Vauxhaul Gardens, and sickly prostitutes hired by the killer call out to him with names that bring his deepest griefs surging back to the surface: “I’m Ann!” one of the women yells. “No, I’m Ann!” cries another. “I’m Jane!” bawls a third. Then more voices and other deaths: “Elizabeth!” “Catherine!” “Love us, Thomas!” De Quincey sinks to his knees, unable to endure the memory of so much sorrow, and horrified to think that the assassin knows so well how to wound him.

Morrell is equally interested in De Quincey as a father. In 1806, as he wandered through the Lake District, the 21-year-old De Quincey made a manuscript list of twelve “Constituents of Happiness,” one of which was the “education of a child.” But by 1816, when he became a father for the first time, his life was already spiralling out of control, and in the years that followed he was often unable to provide for his wife Margaret and a family that grew ultimately to eight children. Perhaps most devastatingly, in 1834, as his teenage son William lay writhing in the grip of leukaemia, De Quincey listened as his son told the doctor of his physical pain, but also of his mental anguish, for the boy’s mind was full of “family distresses” – the fear, and penury, and despair that had surrounded him for his entire life. When William died, De Quincey’s grief – and guilt – were intense.

De Quincey’s youngest daughter Emily was twenty-one months old at William’s death, and while she never really knew him, she grew up like him in chaos – running from bill collectors, sneaking through back streets to deliver her father’s manuscripts to publishers, and watching helplessly as his drug addiction drove him down to rock-bottom. Yet by the 1840s the family’s finances had started to stabilize, thanks to the caution and courage of Emily and her two older sisters Margaret and Florence, all three of whom were devoted to De Quincey, but acutely aware of his failings. “I think no one will make much out of my father who does not take in the extreme mixture of childish folly joined to a great intellect,” Emily once declared.

In Inspector of the Dead, De Quincey’s relationship with Emily is center stage, and Morrell crafts marvellous exchanges between the two, as he plumbs the workings of their relationship, and demonstrates the ways in which Emily has been both constrained and liberated by her father. Yet perhaps the most moving moment in the novel comes when the two discuss – not the present or the future – but the traumas of the past, and De Quincey confesses his guilt. “In many ways, you are the parent, and I am the child,” he tells Emily. “I only wish that I had watched over you with as much devotion. I’m deeply sorry.” In such moments, Morrell brings De Quincey vividly before us, as a man who moved many to deep affection, despite courting the disasters that so often overtook him.

Morrell’s masterful handing of characterization and pace – his ability to combine heart-pounding action with forceful moments of pathos and emotional insight – are what distinguish both Murder and Inspector. De Quincey’s writings on drugs and violence are key to the process, but no less important are those incidents from his private life that both shattered and inspired him.

About the book
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 342p
ISBN: 9780316323932
Genre: Historical Mystery

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David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London’s harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.

The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead
“Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn’t just delve into the world of Victorian England—he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man’s opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

About the Author
David Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master away from the International Thriller Writers. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel. The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University. His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hashtags: #InspectoroftheDeadBlogTour #HistoricalMystery
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @_DavidMorrell

April 17, 2015

Spotlight on Marianne Perry's The Inheritance

02_The Inheritance_Cover

Publication Date: November 28, 2012
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hard Cover
Pages: 280
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

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The Inheritance tells the story of a family disintegrating from conflicting loyalties in Calabria, southern Italy. Set during the period 1897 to 1913, the region was subject to earthquakes and tsunamis; the land was harsh and poverty the norm. Superstition clashed with religion and a class system ruled the people. Calabria is the perfect backdrop for the tragedy that unfolds in The Inheritance. Caterina is an atypical woman, and The Inheritance chronicles her life from birth to young womanhood. Born with an inheritance of loss into a society that has predetermined what she can and cannot do, she vows to live a life of her choosing. Caterina refuses to allow the limits of her gender, the constraints of her class and the demands imposed by those in power to stand in her way. Caterina remains steadfast in her commitment to become the woman she imagines. Her decisions ignite conflicts and fuel a chain of events that result in dire consequences for all whose path she crosses.

Praise for The Inheritance
"Like a classic star-crossed love story, the novel is written with lush detail enriched with both likable and loathsome characters. In particular, Perry builds strong and decisive female characters. Although the key action doesn’t occur until the final chapters, Perry’s exquisite descriptions will transport readers back to the time and place of Lorenzo and Caterina’s romance-the brilliant colors in villa gardens, the smells and tastes of decadent food, and the menacing sounds of the ocean during an earthquake. After the engrossing storylines come to an abrupt end, a cliff-hanger will leave readers anxious for a sequel to continue Lorenzo and Caterina’s tragic story. Solid characters and vivid imagery capture the mood, traditions and uncertainty of the time." - Kirkus Reviews, December 7, 2012

"The premise for The Inheritance was inspired by the author’s genealogical research in Calabria, Italy. Marianne Perry’s research trip to Cosenza province is obvious in her vivid descriptions of the setting of “The Inheritance”. The landscape, colours, culture, native food, plants and flowers, and even the weather are all vibrantly described……Perry deftly weaves secrets and betrayals throughout the entire book, not only among the two families but the supporting characters, as well….Marianne Perry weaves a very vivid tale that might well have happened hundreds of times over the centuries. “The Inheritance” will definitely make you think about how our ancestors came to be aboard a transatlantic vessel for a perilous three week voyage to being a new life." - Amanda Morehouse, The Ontario-Canada Genealogical Society, August 2014

Buy the Book

Indigo.ca (Kobo Edition (eBook), Hardcover, and Paperback)
Amazon.ca (Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback)

Amazon (Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook, Hardcover, Paperback)
03_Marianne Perry Author
About the Author
Family dynamics, genealogical research to solve ancestral mysteries and international travel are Marianne Perry’s priorities. A second-generation Canadian-Italian, she is the author of The Inheritance, a historical fiction/romance set in Calabria, southern Italy from 1897 to 1913 that was inspired by her grandmother’s early life. With a thirty-year career in education and communications, Marianne holds a Master of Education Degree from The University of Western Ontario (Canada). A past member of the Board of Trustees, the Canadian National Arts Centre Corporation, she has also published non-fiction genealogical articles throughout North America. As a girl, Marianne fell in love with The National Geographic Magazine and dreamt of exploring the world. With her January 2014 visit to Antarctica, she achieved her goal of stepping foot on every continent. The mother of two grown children, Marianne and her husband live on the shores of the St. Mary’s River, which drains Lake Superior on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. She continues to research her family’s history and write non-fiction genealogical articles. In addition, she is working on her second novel and planning further adventures. Marianne blogs about genealogy, travel, family and writing on her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

The Inheritance Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, April 13
Spotlight at Unshelfish
Spotlight at What Is That Book About 
Wednesday, April 15
Guest Post/Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, April 16
Interview at Book Babe
Friday, April 17
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Sunday, April 19
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, April 23
Review, Interview/Giveaway at Virtual Hobby & Coffee Haus
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, April 28
Spotlight at Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 30
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Interview at Books and Benches
Friday, May 1
Review at Library Educated
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog

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April 15, 2015

Spotlight on Ruth A. Casie's Knight of Rapture

02_Kinght of Rapture_Cover

Publication Date: March 30, 2015
Self-Published eBook
Series: Druid Knight Series, Book Two
Genre: Historical Romance

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He crossed the centuries to find her… For months Lord Arik has been trying to find the right combination of runes to create the precise spell to rescue his wife, Rebeka, but the druid knight will soon discover that reaching her four hundred years in the future is only the beginning of his quest. He arrives in the 21st century to find her memory of him erased, his legacy on the brink of destruction, and traces of dark magick at every turn. A threat has followed to take away all they hold dear—forever… Bran, the dark druid, is more determined than ever to get his revenge. His evil has spread across the centuries. Arik will lose all. Time is his weapon, and he’s made sure his plan leaves no one dear to Arik, in past or present, safe from the destruction. But their enemy has overlooked the strongest magick of all… Professor Rebeka Tyler is dealing with more than just a faulty memory. Ownership of Fayne Manor, her home, has been called into question. Convenient accidents begin happening putting those she cares for in the line of fire. And then there’s the unexpected arrival of a strange man dressed like he belonged in a medieval fair—a man who somehow is always around when needed, and always on her mind. She doesn’t know who to trust. But one thing is certain. Her family line and manor have survived for over eleven centuries. She won’t let them fall, not on her watch… in any century.

Buy Knight of Rapture

More Titles by Ruth A. Casie
Knight of Runes (Druid Knight Series, Book One)
The Guardian's Witch

03_Ruth A Casie

About the Author
Ruth A Casie is a seasoned professional with over twenty-five years of writing experience but not necessarily writing romances. No, she’s been writing communication and marketing documents for a large corporation. Over the past years, encouraged by her friends and family, she gave way to her inner muse, let her creative juices flow, and began writing a series of historical time travel romance novels. When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, New Jersey, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch. Together with her husband Paul, they enjoy ballroom dancing and, with New York City close by, going to the theater. Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren. They all thrive on spending time together. It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world. Ruth is a Trustee and on the Executive Board of Shelter Our Sister (SOS) in New Jersey. SOS is Bergen County’s only shelter for victims of domestic violence. She frequently speaks at various functions around Bergen County on behalf of the Shelter. For more information visit Ruth A. Casie's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Sign up for Ruth A. Casie's newsletter.

April 13, 2015

Spotlight on T.K. Thorne's Angels at the Gate {Giveaway}

Please join author T.K. Thorne as she tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for Angels at the Gate Blog Tour from March 23-April 17, and enter to win your own hardcover copy!

Publication Date: March 5, 2015
Cappuccino Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Based on historical, biblical, and archaeological research, visits to the Middle East, and a large measure of creativity, ANGELS AT THE GATE is the story of Adira, destined to become Lot’s wife. A daughter of Abram’s tribe, Adira is an impetuous young girl whose mother died in childbirth. Secretly raised as a boy in her father’s caravan and schooled in languages and the art of negotiation, Adira rejects the looming changes of womanhood that threaten her nomadic life and independence.

But with the arrival of two mysterious strangers – Northmen rumored to be holy or possibly even “Angels” – Adira’s world unravels. Raiders invade the caravan, and she loses everything she values most – her father, her freedom, and even the “Angels.”

Caught between her oath to her father to return to her tribe and the “proper life for a woman” and tormented by an impossible love, she abandons all she has known in a dangerous quest to seek revenge and find her kidnapped “Angel.” With only her beloved dog, Nami, at her side, Adira must use the skills she learned in the caravan to survive the perils of the desert, Sodom, and her own heart.

ANGELS AT THE GATE is a story of adventure and the power of love, exploring themes about choice – the importance of asking the right questions and walking the fine edge between duty and personal freedom.

Based on a simple mention in the Bible, T.K. Thorne has developed a complex and full-bodied character in the wife of Lot, a woman both ancient and modern, who will touch readers’ hearts, and live in their memories for years to come. As Dianne Mooney, founder of Southern Living At Home says, “For all those whose curiosity is piqued by how it might have been in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, this is a must read!”

Praise for Angels at the Gate
“ANGELS AT THE GATE is nothing short of a masterwork–superbly and eloquently written, solidly researched and a high-speed page-turner. Readers will be swept up in a story they can’t put down.” –Elsa D. Ruther, editor,The Nifty Pickle

“A masterpiece of historical research, interweaving history and theology in a re-visioning of an ancient story from a woman’s perspective. Thorne is a dazzlingly gifted writer.” –Sue Walker, Poet Laureate of Alabama, 2003-2012

“Thorne unspools an ancient adventure with crackling undertones of our contemporary lives. Lean, polished action sequences render a young woman’s life with both intensity and nuanced truth.” –Dale Short, public radio commentator and author of A Shinning, Shinning Path

Buy Angels at the Gate
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About the Author
T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama. “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” When she retired as a captain, she took on Birmingham’s business improvement district as the executive director. Both careers provide fodder for her writing, which has garnered several awards, including “Book of the Year for Historical Fiction” (ForeWord Reviews) for her debut novel Noah’s Wife. Her first non-fiction book, Last Chance for Justice, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. She loves traveling, especially to research her novels, and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home, often with two dogs by her side and a cat on her lap.

She blogs at www.TKs-tales.com and her web site is www.TKThorne.com. You can also find her onFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Sign Up for T.K. Thorne’s newsletter.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #AngelsattheGateBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #TKThorne
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @TKThorne

To enter to win a Hardcover copy of Angels at the Gate please complete the giveaway form below. Five copies are up for grabs!
* Giveaway is open to US residents only.
* Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 17th.
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* Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

Angels at the Gate

April 08, 2015

David Blixt's The Prince's Doom - Guest Post

Verona Revisited

In writing The Prince’s Doom, the highlight was my return to Verona last year. The trip was arranged for the release of the Italian edition of The Master Of Verona, the first book in the series, and marked my fourth time in the city in the last 20 years. The first and third times I was there for pure tourism, staying for less than a day. But the second time was a heavy research trip, as was this latest one.

I could go on and on about having access I’d never been granted before (I got to sit in Cangrande’s chair!). I could talk about the places I’d never heard of, that became huge pieces of the novel (Santa Maria in Stelle!). But there was one event that bookended the two research trips perfectly. So it starts, as all my good stories do, with my wife.

My wife and I eloped in 2002, taking all the money we would have spent on a big wedding and spending it on the honeymoon instead. Which meant we were in Europe for over three months, exploring, making friends, and doing research. Eight days of that time was spent in Verona, as guests of the city. I had made a friend in the Ministry of Culture, and among the many wonderful people she connected me with, one was the descendent of Dante, still living on the vineyard bought in 1353 by Dante’s son Pietro (who just happened to be the lead character of the novel I was writing).

That first visit was memorable, to say the least, and my wife wrote an account of it here. (Do read it, it’s hilarious) (http://themasterofverona.typepad.com/the_master_of_verona/2012/06/guest-post-jan-blixt-and-coffee-with-the-count.html). He showed us the marriage carriage that was used when the family linked itself to the Serego clan, another famous Veronese family. We saw the family crest inlaid in the floor and over the mantle, beside framed photos of the Count's daughters. 

This is one of the things I like best about Verona. Everything is still in use. From the Arena, where they hold operas and concerts, to Cangrande's palace, which is not only the city hall but also houses the apartment of the chief of police, to a lovely condo Jan and I toured, with famous 19th century paintings the size of half a basketball court on the walls. They maintain the old, but with the new. Nothing is kept out of use, but rather worked seamlessly into daily life. 

So that was then. This time, 12 years later, it was filmmaker Anna Lerario, a new friend, who put me back in contact with the Count. We called ahead, and then Anna drove us out to the Count's abode in the country. Valpolicella is much more built up than I remember, and indeed when we spoke, the Count lamented the overdevelopment that's been happening. He's very much a Lord Grantham type, but instead of clinging to tradition, his vineyard has partnered with MASI wines, gaining him a huge distribution for his products. He sees the building that's been happening as speculative, and ruining the land upon which they make their living. 

Ever an elegant man, we sat down with him in the dining area of La Foresteria. I presented him with copies of all the Verona books - I'd sent one when MoV was first published, but it felt wonderful to hand him a copy in Italian as well. Then he, Jan, Anna, and I sat and talked.

The very best part was just letting the conversation wander. Before, I had only been interested in the 14th century history of the land. This time I looked around at the large courtyard, at the looming shadow of Monte Baldo to the north, and said, "How on earth did the villa survive the Second World War?"

The Count looked at me in surprise. "Did I never tell you this story?" And he proceeded to relate how his father had saved the villa in 1945. 

During the war, the Nazis used the villa as an outpost, first for troops, then as a munitions depot. The whole area sits at the foot of the Brenner Pass, the route the retreating Nazis would have to take. On April 22nd 1945 the order came to all Nazis still in Italy - retreat, and leave nothing for the Allies to use. For the Nazis stationed at La Foresteria, this meant blowing up all of the munitions - and the villa and village along with them. 

That night, the Count's father invited the Nazi commander to a farewell dinner, and produced his best bottles of the wine grown on the land. He then proceeded to get the man drunk, talking all the time about this history of the villa, of the people in the village. He then offered the commander a way to obey his orders without blowing up anything. What if they transported all the munitions to the river and disposed of them there? The ordinance would be useless, and no one would be hurt. 

The Nazi commander agreed in theory, but could not spare the men to do the work, not when they would be pulling back the next day. So late in the night the Count's father roused the whole village. Under the watchful eyes of a few Nazi soldiers, the villagers carried the explosives to the river and threw them in. By dawn of April 23rd, the munitons were all ruined and gone. The villagers were just beginning to relax when they heard a massive explosion from across the valley. Another village had not been so fortunate - the Nazi commander there had obeyed his orders to the letter. 
The Nazis pulled out, and April 24th was V-I Day - Victory in Italy. 

It did not escape me, of course, that the action of the story took place in the small hours of April 23rd. My wedding anniversary. Also Shakespeare's birthday. Serendipity seems to follow Shakespeare, Verona, and me. 

After telling us that story, the Count arranged for Jan and I to have dinner in a nearby restaurant (we later discovered he’d had them open just for us). Before we parted for the evening, I asked a favor. I had a photo of the Count and me standing beside his villa from 2002. Could we repeat the photograph? He agreed, and promised to meet me there in another dozen years.

It is wonderful to think that the ancestor of this charming, graceful, and warm man is the same person I’ve been striving to bring to life in the pages of four novels. Of all the characters I’ve ever written, Pietro Alaghieri is the one I admire most. I can’t help but wonder how much of that is due to having spent time in the presence of his heir, on land Pietro himself owned. Even 750 years after his death, Pietro remains vibrant and alive to me. I hope to you as well.

02_The Prince's Doom

Publication Date: December 23, 2014
Sordelet Ink
Paperback; 722p
ISBN: 0615894437
Series: Book Four, Star Cross'd Series
Genre: Historical Fiction

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The long-awaited explosive fourth novel in the Star-Cross'd series! Verona has won its war with Padua, but lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona and the Church, but the stars themselves. Trying desperately to salvage what's left of his spirit, for once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake the young man out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, one that will doom them all.

Praise for David Blixt

'For anyone who has yet to read David's novels, you are about to hit the literary lottery. Yes, he's that good.' --Sharon Kay Penman, The Sunne In Splendour

'David Blixt is a master of historical fiction. Dramatic, vivid, superbly researched, this series captures Renaissance Italy in all its heady glamour and lethal intrigue.' --C.W. Gortner, The Tudor Conspiracy

'This is one of the most exciting, and satisfying, reads that I have immersed myself in for a long time. David Blixt is a gem of a writer.' --Helen Hollick, The Pendragon Chronicles

The Star Cross'd Series

Based on the plays of William Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the history of Italy, the Star-Cross'd Series is a tale of wars won, friendships lost, and conspiracies both mortal and stellar, an epic journey into the birth of the Renaissance that recalls the best of Bernard Cornwell and Dorothy Dunnett.

Titles in the Star Cross'd Series

Book One: Master of Verona
Book Two: Voice of the Falconer
Book Three: Fortune's Fool
Book Four: The Prince's Doom

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About the Author03_David Blixt Author

Author and playwright David Blixt's work is consistently described as "intricate," "taut," and "breathtaking." A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS'D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, FORTUNE'S FOOL, and THE PRINCE’S DOOM) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY'S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, "Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It's well worth it." Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as "actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order."

For more information please visit David Blixt's website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Prince's Doom Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 16
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, March 18
Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, March 19
Excerpt at Becky on Books

Friday, March 20
Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, March 21
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, March 23
Review at Griperang's Bookmarks

Tuesday, March 24
Guest Post & Giveaway at Griperang's Bookmarks

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, March 27
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, March 30
Excerpt at Buried Under Books

Tuesday, March 31
Spotlight at A Book Geek

Wednesday, April 1
Excerpt & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, April 2
Review at Quirky Book Reviews
Guest Post at Books and Benches

Friday, April 3
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

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April 06, 2015

Eleanor Parker Sapia's A Decent Woman - Book Blast

Join author Eleanor Parker Sapia as her historical novel, A Decent Woman, is featured around the blogosphere from March 16-April 6, and enter the giveaway! Up for grabs is an Autographed copy of A Decent Woman, two eBooks of A Decent Woman, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

01_A Decent Woman_Cover

Publication Date: February 20, 2015
Formats: eBook, Paperback
270 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older, wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.

Advanced Praise for A Decent Woman

“A Decent Woman brings vividly to life the world of early twentieth-century Puerto Rico through the struggles of Ana Belén, an Afro-Cuban midwife, as she attempts to live a meaningful life. Spanning almost thirty years, the story encompasses Ana’s unusual friendship with Serafina, a white woman of humble origins who marries into a wealthy, upper class family. Race, class, the lingering legacy of slavery, and a woman’s role in this neo colonial society are all effectively illustrated through the intimate depiction of these two intersecting lives.

Author Eleanor Parker Sapia lovingly evokes old Puerto Rico: the graceful colonial city of Ponce, the mixture of African and Catholic traditions, the tropical lushness of the land, and the devastating force of a Caribbean hurricane.

Overall, A Decent Woman is a powerful and moving tale; well worth reading.”
-Alina García-Lapuerta, biographer and author of La Belle Creole: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris

“A Decent Woman opens with a birth and a hurricane and doesn't let up. Deep with delicious detail, scrumptious characters, and full of folklore, this is a unique debut novel from Eleanor Parker Sapia, one that will win her readers over. Written in a clean style that lets the historical ambience seep through into our consciousness, this book is a tale of wonder, of life and death, of love and life and not a few twists and turns. Ana and Serafina are, indeed, decent women living in a hard time. Buy it, read it, love it.”
-Jack Remick, short story writer, poet, and author of award-winning, Gabriela and the Widow

“A Decent Woman takes the reader on a journey into the heat and steam of Puerto Rico in the early 1900s. The writing is so visceral and evocative that you almost feel the rain on your face, the pain of childbirth, fear, betrayal and redemption along with the women in this story of midwives and mothers.”
-Claudia H Long, author of The Duel for Consuelo and Josefina's Sin

“A Decent Woman takes the reader on an unforgettable journey of friendship between two strong women set against the backdrop of colonial Puerto Rico of the early 1900s. When former Cuban slave and midwife Ana Belén delivers Serafina Martínez' first child, an unbreakable bond is formed despite the hurricanes nature and politics thrown in their paths. A striking first novel from Eleanor Parker Sapia.”
-Arleen Williams, writer and author of The Alki Trilogy

“It's not only that I enjoyed A Decent Woman as much as Alice Walker's work, there is a quality to her prose. I went back and read an excerpt of The Color Purple to really identify the similarity. The only way I can describe it is that I wanted to read it in gulps. Like when you're really thirsty. I found myself sucked into the world in three or four lines, and galloping through the prose, because reading more made me want to read more.

A Decent Woman embodies the genre of women’s fiction in the most complete sense of the word exploring the lives of women - young and old, dark- and light-skinned, poor and rich. This is an outstanding read and an important book about a little known corner of women’s history.”
-Yma Johnson, short story writer and journalist

“Eleanor Parker Sapia's historical fiction novel, A Decent Woman, steeped in friendship, romance, politics, and mysticism, is the captivating story of Ana Belén's struggle and perseverance to become a Certified Midwife in turn of the century Puerto Rico. Ana’s passions, joys, and plight are shared by midwives everywhere and throughout herstory.

Reading this book was inspiring. I'm sure readers will enjoy A Decent Woman as much as I did.”
-Sarahn Henderson, Midwife and Educator at Birth in the Tradition

"I really enjoyed this novel and particularly enjoyed the characters who I could visualize clearly as I moved along with the story. Eleanor's descriptions really created such a vivid image in my mind, bringing them to life as I read. I was moved by the various events and was even brought to tears at times. I suspect it will be a huge success and certainly one that I will recommend to my circle of family and friends."
-Gina Tsiapalis, Registered Midwife

Official Book Trailer

Eleanor Parker Sapia's Podcast with Upgrade Your Story on BlogTalkRadio

Buy A Decent Woman

Barnes & Noble 

02_Eleanor Parker Sapia

About the Author

Puerto Rican-born novelist and painter, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Her passion for travel and adventure combined with her compassion for those in need have led to her careers as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, and a Spanish language social worker and refugee case worker. These life experiences inspire her writing. She facilitates The Artist’s Way creativity groups, and teaches creative writing to children and adults. Eleanor shares her passion for telling stories on her blog, The Writing Life. A Decent Woman is her debut novel. Eleanor has two adventurous and loving grown children, and currently lives in wild and wonderful West Virginia.

For more information please visit Eleanor Parker Sapia's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign up for Eleanor Parker Sapia's Newsletter for news and updates.

A Decent Woman Book Blast Schedule

Monday, March 16
To Read, Or Not to Read

Tuesday, March 17
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, March 18
The Maiden's Court

Thursday, March 19
A Literary Vacation
Flashlight Commentary

Friday, March 20
A Bookish Girl
CelticLady's Reviews

Saturday, March 21
Griperang's Bookmarks

Monday, March 23
History From a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, March 24
100 Pages a Day
Back Porchervations

Wednesday, March 25
Book Lovers Paradise
What Is That Book About

Friday, March 27
Book Babe

Saturday, March 28
Book Nerd

Monday, March 30
Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, March 31
Passages to the Past

Wednesday, April 1
Layered Pages
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Thursday, April 2
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, April 6
Historical Fiction Connection


To enter to win one of the following four prizes, please complete the giveaway form below.

* Autographed Copy of A Decent Woman
* A Decent Woman eBooks (2)
* $25 Amazon Gift Card


Giveaway starts on March 16th at 12:01am EST and ends at 11:59pm EST on April 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 7th and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

A Decent Woman Book Blast

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