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Hello, dear readers & Happy Monday! Today on the blog I have a great interview with author D.K. Marley and a giveaway for her book, Blood and Ink! Enjoy!


Hello D.K. and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Blood and Ink!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and Blood and Ink?

I am a historical fiction author and blogger with a passion for all things Shakespearean! My grandmother gave me my first ‘Complete Works of Shakespeare’ when I was eleven, thus beginning my journey into the Elizabethan world. Needless to say, I was hooked. I have traveled several times to the UK on research and pleasure, immersing myself into the world of Shakespeare by visiting the Globe Theater, Stratford-upon-Avon, and some lectures hosted at the Globe by Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance. Despite the topic of Blood and Ink, which delves into the authorship question of the plays attributed to Shakespeare, I am an avid Stratfordian, as well as a Marlowe fan. “Blood and Ink” might be considered more of an alternate historical fiction piece, traveling the path of what happened if Marlowe faked his death in Deptford in 1593 and Shakespeare became his proxy for the plays.

What inspired you to write Blood and Ink?

On one of my visits to the Globe, many many years ago, one of the museum displays showed a collage of men who might have written or co-written the plays; one of them was, of course, Christopher Marlowe. Something drew me to the story of Marlowe, so when I returned home with a portfolio full of notes, I started my research.

What type of research did you do for writing Blood and Ink?

The debate lectures at the Globe helped tremendously, although many of those in attendance favored the Earl of Oxford as the true writer, but their mind-set helped pave a way into how to research the sonnets and the plays for clues. Also, I read the book “Her Majesty’s Spymaster” by Stephen Budiansky and ‘The Marlowe Studies’ by Peter Farey. I emailed several times with Mr. Farey on questions I had and two of my articles were published with the Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection. I owe a great deal of background research to Mr. Farey.

What was your favorite scene to write?

The scene between Marlowe and the Countess of Pembroke. I took the idea of the ‘dark lady’ and the line ‘in nothing art thou dark save for thy deeds’ in Sonnet 131 and ‘to shun the heaven that leads men to this hell’ in Sonnet 129, as well as the entire Venus and Adonis poem, to sketch out the possible encounter between a young Marlowe and the precocious Countess.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The scene of the massacre in Paris and trying to focus more on the loss of childhood instead of the grisly and bloody things happening on the streets of Paris. I wanted the scene to affect Marlowe so that later, when he wrote his play, all those images he saw would spill out onto the page.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew when I was very little, around 7-8 years old that I loved books and storytelling. I used to create elaborate stories in my head, sort of Wonderland escapism for an only child.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

My greatest challenge is my fight with bipolar depression and depression from grief. Sometimes the they both overwhelm me to the point where my writing suffers, and other times, I break into a creative drive that puts me on overload. Writing is therapeutic for me, though, and I find I am still that little girl running after white rabbits into new stories and characters. Balance is the key for me. I write when I can and cry when I must, sometimes flip-flopping the two.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Shakespeare, of course, first and foremost. I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Rosalind Miles, Alison Weir, and Ken Follett.

What was the first historical novel you read?

So hard to remember since I have read so many, but I do recall reading “The Far Pavilions” by M. M. Kaye when I was in high school. I adored this book and still have that same copy in my book collection today.

What is the last historical novel you read?

“All the Light You Cannot See” by Doerr… loved it!

What are three things people may not know about you?

I am a grandmother; I love Scottish Terriers; and I am a MADD advocate since losing my daughter and son-in-law to a drunk driver in 2015.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love everything about history, and the leaning toward literary writing with a touch of romance.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Tudor era, Medieval era, and now, with my upcoming novel due in December, Colonial Georgia.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love to work in my flower garden, play with my granddaughter, spend time with my husband of 31 years, and do photography.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Two novels - “Child of Love & Water” set in Colonial Georgia, mid 1700s, where four lives entwine - an Ulster Irish orphan girl, a British soldier, a Creek Indian warrior, and a runaway Gullah slave girl. What they learn from this wild Irish girl and from each other will change their lives forever. Next, “A Winter’s Fire” is the second book in the Fractured Shakespeare Series and retells the story of Macbeth from Lady Macbeth’s POV, beginning when she is 16 years old.

Wow, those both sound like excellent reads! Thanks so much for speaking with us today, D.K.! Have a great blog tour!


Blood and Ink by D.K. Marley
Publication Date: March 28, 2018
The White Rabbit Publishing
ebook, Paperback, and Audible; 438 Pages


Genre: Historical Fiction

In the tradition of "The Marlowe Papers" by Ros Barber, the debut historical fiction novel "Blood and Ink" tells the story of Christopher "Kit" Marlowe, the dark and brooding playwright of Queen Elizabeth's court. Marlowe sells his soul to gain the one thing he desires: to see his name immortalized.

Inspired at an early age on the banks of the Stour River, his passion for a goose quill and ink thrusts him into the labyrinth of England's underworld - a secret spy ring created by the Queen's spymaster, Sir Frances Walsingham.

Kit suffers the whips and scorns of time as he witnesses the massacre of Paris, the hypocrisy of the church, the rejection from his 'dark lady,' the theft of his identity as a playwright, and wrenching loss breathing life into many of his unforgettable characters.

As he sinks further into the clutches of Walsingham, a masque is written by his own hand to save his life from shadowing betrayers, from the Queen's own Star Chamber, and from the Jesuit assassins of Rome, thus sending him into exile and allowing an unknown actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare, to step into his shoes.

And so begins the lie; and yet, what will a man not do to regain his name?

"DK Marley’s exhaustively researched and spryly written novel Blood and Ink follows in the tradition of such minor-key classics as Anthony Burgess’ A Dead Man in Deptford, and the central premise of Marley’s book—that Marlowe only faked his death in 1593 in order to escape the attentions of the Privy Council—will be familiar to followers of the Shakespearean authorship question (Shakespeare, needless to say, features prominently here). Marley has sifted through a phenomenal amount of research, but along the way she hasn’t forgotten to tell a first-rate and gripping story, adorned in many places by some very pretty turns of phrase. We may never have a final resolution to the tangled questions Marley raises, but as long as we get such strong and enjoyable novels as this one out of the tangle, we shouldn’t complain." -Historical Novel Society

Amazon (eBook) | Amazon (Paperback)
About the Author
D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare's plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel "Blood and Ink," an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio.She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops, and is a graduate of the intense training workshop "The Writer's Retreat Workshop" founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes.She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

For more information, please visit D.K. Marley's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, July 16
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, July 17
Review at Oh, October

Wednesday, July 18
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Thursday, July 19
Review at Bri's Book Nook

Friday, July 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, July 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, July 24
Interview at What Cathy Read Next

Wednesday, July 25
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 copies of Blood and Ink by D.K. Marley! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 25th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Blood and Ink



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Hello, dear readers! I hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday! I turn a young 41 today and am very happy to be hosting an interview with author Ken Czech, who is currently on blog tour for Last Dance in Kabul. It's always a good birthday when you get to talk books :) I do hope you will enjoy our interview, and don't forget to enter to win a copy of Last Dance in Kabul!


Hello Ken and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Last Dance in Kabul!

Hi Amy. Thanks so much for inviting me to Passages to the Past.

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and Last Dance in Kabul?

Well, I retired from the classroom about six years ago. I'll admit I do miss my students, but I don't missing grading papers. Throughout my teaching career, both in secondary education and at university, I've been writing everything from short stories to magazine articles to books that examined the historical literature of exploration and sport. But academia is behind me, and my passion has turned to writing fiction. LAST DANCE IN KABUL is my second historical novel.

What inspired you to write Last Dance in Kabul?

Stories of desperate last stands against overwhelming odds have always piqued my imagination. As a kid, it was Custer's Last Stand and the Alamo. When I first saw the famous painting by W. A. Wollen titled "The Last Stand of the 44th Foot at Gandamack", I wanted to know more about why a ragged group of British regulars in 1842 were about to engage bands of Afghan fighters in a most inhospitable looking mountain range.

What type of research did you do for writing Last Dance in Kabul?

My research included reading primary source accounts penned by two survivors of the Kabul catastrophe as well as several secondary sources written by well-grounded historical writers. Maps of the region showed mountain ranges, passes, and desert-like areas. Especially important in my research was a map of Kabul as it existed in 1841-2. I also read recent books written by veterans of the war against the Taliban to become more familiar with tribal conflicts, and to get a better sense of weather and terrain.

What was your favorite scene to write?

My hero (Reeve Waterton) and heroine (Sarah Kane) are truly disdainful of each other. After reaching Kabul, Reeve is practicing his fencing techniques. Sarah barges in to watch, then challenges Reeve to a match. Unknown to him is that Sarah is an expert with the epee. When she defeats him, it becomes more of a sexual challenge than a sporting event.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

I think I labored over one of the final scenes the most. Sarah and Reeve managed to escape the slaughter of the British army in the mountain passes outside of Kabul. When Reeve is injured, it's up to Sarah to call upon both her inner and physical strengths to save him. I wanted the scene to reflect grittiness, pain, and fatigue, but also wanted my two characters to experience tenderness, care, and a burgeoning love. It was especially important to me that Sarah demonstrated her spirit and assertiveness without coming across as Wonder Woman.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Wow, that goes back a long way, Amy. I think I was in seventh grade (ca. 1962) when I wrote a little story in the vein of Edgar Rice Burroughs. As I recall, the characters were stereotypes, the language stilted, and creating a battle scene was most important. I actually wrote a full-length fantasy novel in high school (about 50,000 words), thought it was great at the time, and now find in laughable.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

There is little doubt in my mind that my biggest challenge has been in finding an agent to represent my work. In this computer age it's easy to delete form rejection letters with the stroke of a key. If I had printed each rejection, I could easily have wallpapered our living room with them. I've had more success in publishing with small presses, and thank them immensely for their support.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I can answer that in two phases. I've always enjoyed reading fantasy and science fiction, and have been inspired by the story telling genius of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Andre Norton. As I have turned to writing historical fiction, I've thoroughly enjoyed the Napoleonic and Saxon novels written by Bernard Cornwell, and William Dietrich's novels about his roguish character Ethan Gage.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Because I border on antiquity, Amy, I have to delve back a bit. Around 1961, the movie "El Cid" debuted starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren. Robert Krepps wrote a novel of the same name based on the screenplay of this ode to this medieval Spanish warrior. I've read it many times, and there are scenes that still burn brightly.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I recently finished Colin Falconer's "Colossus," the story of a war elephant and its attendants during the time of Alexander the Great. It was a read wonderfully evocative of time and place, and mixed with a bit of alternative history.

What are three things people may not know about you?

Books have been a part of my life since I can remember. Most folks would not know that I collect antiquarian books related to exploration and sport, particularly of the 19th century. Tied to that is my small business of selling books related to those themes, and I'm happy to say that I've sold books to readers in twenty-one different countries. I think the third thing would be that my wife and I are very fortunate to have built our house on an abandoned granite quarry with several water-filled granite pools and tons of wildlife.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I've taught history for over thirty years. There are so many wonderful and interesting stories that crop up throughout history that might garner a paragraph or two in non-fiction histories. Invariably, I wanted to know more. For instance, in my first historical novel "Beyond The River Of Shame," real historical characters Samuel and Florence Baker set off to explore the sources of the Nile River in the 1860s. Sam purchased Florie at a slave auction, and though he wrote several books of their adventures, he never mentions her by name nor does he reveal their personal relationship. The strictures of stodgy Victorian era society undoubtedly prevented that, so I tried to create that relationship in my story.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Perhaps the 19th century holds the most attraction for me. Yes, I studied it and taught it, but it was also a period where mankind quested to discover the unknown. Because modern luxuries and conveniences were not commonplace, it has been a challenge to imagine walking for miles through an African swamp, or scaling the peaks of the Hindu Kush relying on physical strength and perseverance. No cell phones or microwaves back then.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

KC: Amy, I love reading, so my nose if too often in a book. My wife and I enjoy the tranquility of our home place. Our great granddaughter lives with us part time, and I think I am her favorite pull toy.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I've just completed my third historical novel, "The Tsar's Locket." As Cliff Claven of "Cheers" would say, it's a little know fact that Tsar Ivan the Terrible once attempted to marry a niece of Queen Elizabeth. My story revolves around a disgraced sea captain challenged by the queen to deliver a betrothal locket to the tsar, his journey plagued by assassination and war. Now to find a home for it!

Oh wow, that sounds like an amazing read! I sure hope you find a publisher because I'd love to read that. Thanks so much for spending time with us, Ken! Good luck on your blog tour.


Last Dance in Kabul by Ken Czech
Publication Date: August 2, 2018
Fireship Press
Paperback & eBook; 306 Pages

Genre: Action & Adventure/Historical/Romance/War & Military


The Ultimate Dance Between Love and War

When his superiors ignore his warnings of an impending Afghan insurrection in 1841, British army captain Reeve Waterton vows never to return to Kabul. But then he rescues strong-willed Sarah Kane from an ambush and his plans for civilian life and self-preservation unravel around him.

At first Reeve dislikes Sarah as much as she loathes him. She's as impudent and disdainful of authority as he, plus she's betrothed to his bitterest rival.
It's only after Reeve's closest friend is brutally murdered and the Afghan tribes explode in revolt that he and Sarah discover their desperate need for each other. When the retreating British army is caught between the jaws of Afghanistan's blizzard-wracked mountain passes and hordes of vengeful tribesmen, Sarah and Reeve must rely on their skills, courage, and blossoming love just to survive.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound
Praise for Last Dance in Kabul
“Reeve Waterton, a dashing rogue, is a true hero who stands among the most valiant officers of British fiction. Sarah Kane is an assertive woman assured of her own mind yet vulnerable in her heart. Together they spark the blaze that energizes Last Dance in Kabul.” —Rex Griffin, historical writer
“You won't find two more compelling characters than Reeve Waterton and Sarah Kane. I love them. I rooted for them to survive and work things out from the third chapter until the exciting conclusion. Their story was so expertly woven between survival and romance that I found it difficult to pull myself away from it.” —Ray Simmons, for Reader's Favorite

“Last Dance in Kabul is a war story; a story of life and death; a story of love and hate, and it is a very good read. I was pulled back to 1841 and dropped in the middle of the Afghan insurrection.” –Trudi LoPreto for Reader's Favorite

“[The] character development is impeccable and the conflict gives the story its powerful depth and emotional intensity. Last Dance in Kabul is a captivating, well-plotted and beautifully paced novel.” —Christian Sia, for Reader's Favorite

About the AuthorDr. Ken Czech is a retired history professor and an internationally recognized authority on the historical literature of exploration and sport. His passion, however, has turned to writing fiction. He and his wife Mary live in Central Minnesota on an abandoned granite quarry.

For more information, please visit Ken’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Amazon and Goodreads.

Blog Tour ScheduleSunday, July 15
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, July 16
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Tuesday, July 17
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Wednesday, July 18
Review at Books and Glamour

Thursday, July 19
Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, July 20
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Monday, July 23
Review at Bri's Book Nook

Tuesday, July 24
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, July 25
Review at A Darn Good Read

Thursday, July 26
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, July 27
Review at Hopewell's Public Library of Life

Monday, July 30
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, July 31
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Last Dance in Kabul! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Last Dance in Kabul


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Happy Friday eve, everyone! Today on the blog I am hosting Victoria Cornwall's The Daughter of River Valley Book Blast & Giveaway! You can read all about the new release below and enter to win a copy of Cornwall's previous novel, The Thief's Daughter!


The Daughter of River Valley by Victoria Cornwell
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
eBook; Choc Lit; 313 Pages
AudioBook; Soundings

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Cornish Tales #3


Beth Jago appears to have the idyllic life, she has a trade to earn a living and a cottage of her own in Cornwall’s beautiful River Valley. Yet appearances can be deceptive …

Beth has a secret. Since inheriting her isolated cottage she has been receiving threats, so when she finds a man in her home she acts on her instincts. One frying pan to the head and she has robbed the handsome stranger of his memory and almost killed him.

Brought together by unknown circumstances, and fearful he may die, she reluctantly nurses the intruder back to health. Yet can she trust the man with no name who has entered her life, or is he as dangerous as his nightmares suggest? As they learn to trust one another, the outside threats worsen. Are they linked to the man with no past? Or is the real danger still outside waiting … and watching them both?
Amazon UK | Amazon USChapters
About the Author 
Victoria Cornwall can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.

Victoria’s writing has been shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction and her debut novel reached the final for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award.

Victoria likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

For more information, please visit Victoria Cornwall's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Book Blast ScheduleWednesday, July 4
100 Pages a Day

Thursday, July 5
Maiden of the Pages

Friday, July 6
Clarissa Reads it All

Saturday, July 7
Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sunday, July 8
The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, July 9
SilverWoodSketches

Tuesday, July 10
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, July 11
A Darn Good Read

Thursday, July 12
Passages to the Past

Friday, July 13
Trisha Jenn Reads
History From a Woman's Perspective

Sunday, July 15
Donna's Book Blog

GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of Victoria Cornwell's previous novel, The Thief's Daughter! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Daughter of River Valley


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It's always exciting when C.W. Gortner releases a new book and this one is no exception! The Romanov Empress is now out in stores now and C.W. Gortner is on blog tour with HF Virtual Book Tours. You can read all about the new release below and enter to win a signed copy!


The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Ballantine Books
Hardcover; 448 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

Narrated by the mother of Russia’s last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia’s most compelling women, who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage—as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to her husband’s reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie—now called Maria—must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

Her husband’s death leaves their son Nicholas II as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas’s strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBoundPraise for The Romanov Empress"Gortner’s mesmerizing historical novel (following The Vatican Princess) depicts the remarkable life of the mother of the last Russian tsar. This insightful first-person account of the downfall of the Romanov rule will appeal to history buffs; at its core, it’s the powerful story of a mother trying to save her family and an aristocrat fighting to maintain rule in a country of rebellion, giving it an even broader appeal." —Publishers Weekly

“A sweeping saga that takes us from the opulence and glamor of Tsarist Russia to the violent, tragic last days of the Romanovs. C. W. Gortner breaks new ground here, skillfully painting an intimate, compelling portrait of this fascinating empress and her family.” —Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

“The Romanov Empress has all the glitter and mystery of a Faberge egg, the outer decadence and beauty of Imperial Russia unfolding to reveal the mysteries and horrors within. The waning days of a doomed dynasty are recounted by the vivacious but tough Danish princess who would become one of Russia's most revered tsarinas, only to see her line end in war and revolution. Gortner pens a beautiful tribute to a lost world, weaving a tale sumptuous as a Russian sable.” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

“A vivid, engaging tale of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Russia's last Tsar, her loves and her heartbreaks, bringing the troubled final decades of the Russian Empire to life.” —Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace

About the AuthorC. W. Gortner holds an MFA in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California. He is the internationally acclaimed and bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel, The Queen’s Vow, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Last Queen, The Vatican Princess, and Marlene, among other books. He divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.

To learn more about his work and to schedule a book group chat with him, please visit his website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour ScheduleTuesday, July 10
Review & Interview at Clarissa Reads it All
Feature at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 11
Review at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, July 12
Review at A Bookish Affair

Friday, July 13
Feature at Bookfever

Monday, July 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, July 17
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, July 18
Review at Creating Herstory
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, July 19
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, July 20
Review at Bri's Book Nook

Monday, July 23
Review at Books and Glamour

Tuesday, July 24
Review at Dressed to Read

Wednesday, July 25
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, July 26
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Friday, July 27
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, July 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, July 31
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, August 1
Feature at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, August 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire

Friday, August 3
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, August 6
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, August 7
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Thursday, August 9
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Friday, August 10
Review at Two Gals and a Book

GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of The Romanov Empress to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Romanov Empress


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Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr
by Margaret Porter
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Gallica Press
Paperback & eBook

Genre: Historical Biographical Fiction

“But I don’t regret anything. I learned a lot.” —Hedy Lamarr

An ambitious teenaged Austrian actress of Jewish heritage, Hedwig Kiesler is tainted by her nudity in the art film Ecstasy. A hasty marriage to a munitions mogul is her refuge from scandal, but it cannot survive his jealousy and possessiveness—or her discovery he supplies arms to Hitler’s regime. Hedy flees husband and homeland for Hollywood, where Louis B. Mayer transforms her into an icon of exotic glamour. Professional success clashes with her personal life as marriage and motherhood compete with the demands of studio and stardom.

Roused to action by the atrocities of World War II, Hedy secretly invents a new wireless technology intended for her adopted country’s defense—and unexpectedly changes the world.

About the AuthorMARGARET PORTER is the author of the forthcoming Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr as well as the highly acclaimed A Pledge of Better Times and eleven other historical novels for various publishers, including several bestsellers and award-winners, and many foreign language editions. She studied British history in the U.K. and afterwards worked in theatre, film and television. Margaret and her husband live in New England with their two dogs, dividing their time between a book-filled house in a small city and a waterfront cottage located on one of the region’s largest lakes.

More information is available at her website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Cover Reveal ScheduleTuesday, July 10
Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 11
Naomi Finley's Blog
Clarissa Reads it All

Thursday, July 12
100 Pages a Day
A Darn Good Read

Friday, July 13
The Lit Bitch
History From a Woman's Perspective

Saturday, July 14
Creating Herstory

Sunday, July 15
Maiden of the Pages

Monday, July 16
Laura's Interests
The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, July 17
Donna's Book Blog

Wednesday, July 18
Carole's Ramblings

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Today I am super excited to be kicking off Susan Spann's blog tour for Trial on Mount Koya! It's publication day, so please join me in saying.."Happy Book Birthday, Susan!!!"

You can read all about the new release below and we have 5 copies up for grabs so be sure to enter our giveaway.


Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann
Publication Date: July 3, 2018
Seventh Street Books
Paperback & eBook; 256 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Hiro Hattori, Book #6


Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo head up to Mount Koya, only to find themselves embroiled in yet another mystery, this time in a Shingon Buddhist temple atop one of Japan's most sacred peaks.

November, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple at the summit of Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple's priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife--the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests--including Father Mateo--become unwilling members of the killer's grisly council of the dead.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBoundPraise for Trial on Mount Koya“A page-turning and atmospheric historical mystery that beautifully melds fascinating Japanese history with a cleverly constructed mystery reminiscent of And Then There Were None—if the famous Agatha Christie mystery had been set in medieval Japan on a sacred mountaintop during a snowstorm.” —Gigi Pandian, USA Today–bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries

“Susan Spann is up front in saying that Trial on Mount Koya is an homage to Agatha Christie. Believe me, she does the great Dame Agatha proud. This excellent entry in Spann’s series of Hiro Hattori mysteries offers plenty of esoteric clues and red herrings that are fun to chase. Along the way, she even does Christie one better, giving readers a fascinating glimpse of life and religion in feudal Japan. This is a book sure to please Spann’s growing legion of fans as well as anyone who loves the work of Agatha Christie.” —William Kent Krueger, Edgar® Award–winning author of Sulfur Springs

About the Author
Susan Spann is the award-winning author of the Hiro Hattori mystery novels, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo.

Susan began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest.

Susan is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year, a former president of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (National and Sacramento chapters), the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is represented by literary agent Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.

When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, photography, and hiking. She lives in Sacramento with her husband and two cats, and travels to Japan on a regular basis.

For more information, please visit Susan Spann's website. You can find Susan on Facebook and Twitter (@SusanSpann), where she founded the #PubLaw hashtag to provide legal and business information for writers.

Blog Tour ScheduleTuesday, July 3
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 4
Interview at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, July 5
Interview at T's Stuff
Feature at The Bookworm

Friday, July 6
Guest Post at Jathan & Heather

Sunday, July 8
Review at Carole Rae's Random Ramblings

Tuesday, July 10
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, July 11
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, July 12
Guest Post at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Friday, July 13
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, July 16
Review at Writing the Renaissance

Tuesday, July 17
Guest Post at Writing the Renaissance

Wednesday, July 18
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Friday, July 20
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Saturday, July 21
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Tuesday, July 24
Feature at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Thursday, July 26
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Friday, July 27
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Monday, July 30
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, August 1
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, August 2
Review at A Book Geek

Friday, August 3
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Sunday, August 5
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 6
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, August 8
Review at Reading the Past

GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 copies of Trial on Mount Koya! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Trial on Mount Koya


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Forsaking All Other by Catherine Meyrick
Publication Date: April 1, 2018
Courante Publishing
eBook & Print; 291 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.

England 1585.

Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a husband more to her liking.

Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.

Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes. Until now.

With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.

You can read the first chapter here.

The beautiful cover for the novel was designed by Jennifer Quinlan of Historical Fiction Book Covers.
Amazon (Kindle) | Kindle (Paperback)Barnes and Noble | Kobo
About the AuthorCatherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways not unlike ourselves.

Although she grew up in regional Victoria, Australia, she has lived all her adult life in Melbourne. She has worked as a nurse, a tax assessor and finally a librarian. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also a family history obsessive.

For more information, please visit Catherine Meyrick's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, June 4
Review at Broken Teepee
Excerpt at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Tuesday, June 5
Review at Impressions In Ink
Review at Books and Glamour

Wednesday, June 6
Review & Excerpt at Laura's Interests

Thursday, June 7
Review at Donna's Book Blog
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, June 8
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Saturday, June 9
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Sunday, June 10
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, June 11
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Tuesday, June 12
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, June 13
Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Thursday, June 14
Interview at Books and Glamour
Feature at Faery Tales Are Real

Friday, June 15
Review at WS Momma Readers Nook

Saturday, June 16
Feature at Passages to the Past

Monday, June 18
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 paperback copies of Forsaking All Other! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Forsaking All Other


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Happy Wednesday, dear readers! Today on the blog I am excited to be hosting an interview with author Linda Hughes and a giveaway of Secrets of the Island!


Hello Linda and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Secrets of the Island!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and Secrets of the Island?

Mackinac Island, the setting for this novel, is one of my favorite places. No matter how much I travel the globe, I always go back to the island. No motors are allowed there, except for a couple of emergency vehicles, so to get around you walk, ride a bike, ride a horse, or hire a carriage. It’s like stepping back in time 150 years. Perfect for a historical fiction writer. The island’s rollicking history and remaining mysteries stir the imagination; thus, this book.

Secrets of the Island is the follow up book to Secrets of the Asylum, what inspired you to write the series? Will there be more books coming out in the series?

I do a lot of writing workshops, especially memoir writing workshops, and am a former college professor who gave my students an “ancestry quest” assignment. I’ve also helped a few friends write their memoirs. So, I’ve heard hundreds of family stories. Often people are shocked at their family history once they do a little digging. Great-grandma was a prostitute. Or great-great grandpa was a mobster. Or grandma and grandpa weren’t married. That kind of thing. If we could dig deep enough, we’d all find dirt in our family tree. That theme has played out in other books I’ve written. Then when I toured the old, fascinating asylum in Traverse City, Michigan, I knew those walls held thousands of untold stories. How did those people get there? Was the truth ever told to their families? That’s how this trilogy got started: Secrets of the Asylum, Secrets of the Island, and finally Secrets of Summer, out in 2019.

What type of research did you do for the books?

I love research. I read everything I can about the places and the timeframes I’m writing about. (I confess, I often get sidetracked with the clothes!) For twenty years I had a job where I traveled the world, so have first-hand experience with many of the places I include in my stories. For example, this trilogy includes people from Ireland as well as people of Irish descent. I’ve spent a lot of time in Ireland, so drew from my memories, as well as from the Irish side of my own family tree.

What would you like readers to take away from Secrets of the Island?

We each have within us the strength of all our ancestors. We are not alone. We never have been. Our forebears survived life’s trials and tribulations, and we can, too.

What was the hardest scene to write?

A rape scene. I had to make it quick and give her immediate retribution.

What was your favorite scene to write?

The final scene. I outline my stories, but sometimes surprises pop up. That was one delightful surprise.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was 12 years old I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be a “writter” when I grew up. Really, I wanted to be an actress, I wrote, but they seemed an unhappy lot, so I’d write instead. I didn’t know yet about the likes of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway, just a few of the many writers who have committed suicide.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

My greatest challenge has been to pursue my love of writing despite a need to make a living. I had a hard time quitting my last “day job,” being a professor, but finally did it. I have no regrets.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Alexandre Dumas, Louisa May Alcott, Harper Lee… old-timers all. Today there are many, including Haywood Smith, Mary Kay Andrews, Lianne Moriarty, Diana Gabaldon, and James Patterson.

What was the first historical novel you read?

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, sticks out in my mind. Required in high school English class, I loved the mystery, fervor, challenges, fights, lust, revenge, swashbuckling, seafaring, hidden treasure, French settings, and, of course, the clothes. It has everything!

What is the last historical novel you read?

Ha. Funny. I recently re-read The Count of Monte Cristo. And just finished the current The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, set during WWII. Superb.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I’m claustrophobic. Don’t ask me to get into an elevator. I’ve been married three times. We don’t talk about #2. But this third one has been a keeper for over thirty years. I’m a widow, too. My first husband died of cancer at age thirty-three. Tragic, to say the least. He was a Vietnam veteran and we believe it was exposure to Agent Orange that caused his cancer, as it seems to have done with many.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Getting lost in time and place as I write. I don’t think about what it was like to be there. I’m there.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Actually, any. I love Edmund Rutherford’s sweeping historical novels that take us through time in a place. For example, London begins in 54 BC and ends in 1997, following the same lines of ancestry throughout.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Travel. Walk my dogs. Paint. Visit with family and friends. Watch movies. Have dates with my hubby. Force myself to workout. Regular stuff.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Secrets of Summer is the last in my Secrets trilogy. It’s 1965, twenty-one years after Secrets of the Island, about the daughter of the Island protagonist. This character is twenty-one years old and can’t stay out of trouble! I’m having so much fun with her…. She says and does all the things most of us want to but don’t have the guts. She’s one gutsy gal.

How exciting! Thank you so much for spending time with us today! Good luck on your blog tour!


Secrets of the Island by Linda Hughes
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Deeds Publishing
Paperback and eBook; 268 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Do you think you know your heritage? Think again. Dark secrets lurk below the surface of every family tree, as the Sullivan clan discovers in this story about living in the aftermath of generations of deceit.

When Red Cross nurse Harriet escapes the trauma of World War II and sequesters herself in her grandfather’s cottage on Mackinac Island, she has no inkling about her heritage. But as one shocking clue after another surface – disclosing lies, corruption, madness, and murder – she realizes her family isn’t what, or who, it seems. She’s not the first to hold unspeakable secrets in her soul.

Can she conquer her trials and tribulations, like some of them did? Or will she be defeated by life, like others?

Secrets of the Island, the second book in the Secrets trilogy, is a tale of romantic suspense that begs the question: what secrets are buried within your family tree?
Available on Amazon
Secrets of the Island trailer - YouTube

About the AuthorAs a native Michigander, award-winning author Linda Hughes has been visiting Mackinac Island since she was a kid. She’s spent countless hours riding a bike around the shoreline, and perusing the library and church records to learn about island history. She’s built many a cairn, witnessed the Northern Lights on several occasions, and eaten more than her fair share of chocolate fudge. She’s a world traveler, having worked in thirteen countries and visited a couple dozen more, but Mackinac Island remains one of her favorite places.

Her writing honors come from the National Writers Association, Writer’s Digest, the American Screenwriters Association, Ippy (Independent Publishers), and Indie Book of the Day.

For more information, please visit Linda Hughes' website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Blog Tour ScheduleWednesday, June 6
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, June 8
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, June 11
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Wednesday, June 13
Interview at The Writing Desk

Friday, June 15
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Feature at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Monday, June 18
Review at Donna McCabe

Wednesday, June 20
Excerpt at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, June 22
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, June 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, June 27
Guest Post at Jathan & Heather

Thursday, June 28
Review, Interview & Excerpt at Two Gals and a Book

Friday, June 29
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Impressions In Ink

GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of Secrets of the Island by Linda Hughes! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Secrets of the Island


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Lancelot by Giles Kristian
Publication Date: May 31, 2018
Bantam Press
Hardcover; 512 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Set in a 5th century post-Roman Britain besieged by invading war bands of Saxons and Franks, Irish and Picts, Giles Kristian's epic new novel tells - through the warrior's own words - the story of Lancelot, the most celebrated of all King Arthur's knights. And it's a story that’s ready to be re-imagined for our times.

It’s a story imbued with the magic and superstition that was such an integral part of the enchanted landscape of Britain during this dark times. Many of the familiar names from Arthurian mythology will be here - Mordred and Gawain, Morgana and, of course, Merlin - as will be those vital icons of the legend such as the Round Table and the sword in the stone but these will be reinvented, reforged for a new generation of readers.

Lancelot is a story of warriors and kings, of violent, of warfare and bloodshed but it is also a story of loyalty and friendship, of over-arching ambition, of betrayal and guilt, of love and lust, and the win tragedies of revenge and remorse.

My Review5 Stars (because a Million stars isn't an option)

You guys, I just finished reading the most amazing book and I have a massive book hang over! I stayed up super late last night to finish up Lancelot and if there is ever a good reason to be completely knackered all day, it's this one.

I'd been hearing wonderful things about Lancelot on Twitter and Goodreads so when Anne at Random Things Book Tours emailed me about the blog tour, you can bet that I wrote her back within seconds. I've never been a huge reader of Arthurian novels but Lancelot has changed that. Though I don't think any other book will compare with Kristian's now.

Giles Kristian is a true story-teller. His writing is absolutely gorgeous and I immediately fell in love with the book within the first page. It's one of those books that you never want to put down. I was reading while cooking, while giving my kids a bath, and made my husband drive so that I could read while running errands. I just wanted to stay in Lancelot's world.

I know I'll be picking up the hardcover copy of Lancelot, because just look at that cover! Agh, it's stunning! I need this book on my shelf so that I can go back and read it again and again.

I have a new author crush, so excuse me while I go out and pick up the rest of Giles' books to devour.

Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Book Tours for my review copy, and thanks to Giles Kristian for an amazing adventure. Lancelot will stay with me forever.

About the Author


Family history (he is half Norwegian) inspired GILES KRISTIAN to write his first historical novels: the acclaimed and bestselling Raven Viking trilogy – Blood Eye, Sons of Thunder and Odin's Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War to chart the fortunes of a family divided by that brutal conflict in The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury. Giles also co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s recent No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion but in his new novels – God of Vengeance (a Times Book of the Year) and now Winter’s Fire – he returns to the world of the Vikings to tell the story of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship. Giles Kristian lives in Leicestershire.


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