Book Review: Killer of Kings, by Matthew Harffy

Book Review: Killer of Kings, by Matthew Harffy

Book Review: Killer of Kings by Matthew Harffy AD 636. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the fourth instalment in The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell. Beobrand has land, men and riches. He should be content. And yet he cannot find peace until his enemies are food for the ravens. But before Beobrand can embark on his bloodfeud, King Oswald orders him southward, to escort holy men bearing sacred relics. When Penda of Mercia marches a warhost into the southern kingdoms, Beobrand and his men are thrown into the midst of the conflict. Beobrand soon finds himself fighting for his life and his honour. In the chaos that grips the south, dark secrets are exposed, bringing into question much that Beobrand had believed true. Can he unearth the answers and exact the vengeance he craves? Or will the blood-price prove too high, even for a warrior of his battle-fame and skill?   By the time an author has put out a series of books that I have fallen in love with, totally buying into it...
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Why I Wrote: Broken, by Barbara Spencer

Why I Wrote: Broken, by Barbara Spencer

Why I Wrote: Broken by Barbara Spencer I am known as an author of YA thrillers and children’s books, and it was a complete surprise to find myself writing ‘Broken’ which is for adults. I had just completed the time-slip novel, ‘Time Breaking’. An instant success which took me to many book-signing events at Waterstones, I decided to use the same time-slip format for my next novel but with a male lead rather than a female. Unfortunately, and I plead total ignorance as to why or how it happened, my pen took off and instead of sending my hero back in time, I found myself investigating rivers and monasteries, peat moors, rhynes and clyces. The result was ‘Broken’ although even that was not what I originally intended. Throughout the writing and editing process, it was always ‘Me and Mrs Jones’, taken from the wonderful version of the song recorded by Barry White. Two songs are mentioned in the book and although I tried...
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Why I Write: Historical Fiction Set in the Middle Ages, by Elizabeth Chadwick

Why I Write: Historical Fiction Set in the Middle Ages by Elizabeth Chadwick There are two reasons that I write historical fiction set in the Middle Ages.  One goes back to Childhood and the other to my teenage years.  If neither had happened I might still have been a writer, but who knows what my chosen subject would have been. To begin at the beginning I need to  tell you how I came to be a writer in the first place.  I told myself stories throughout my childhood, but they were verbal – I never wrote anything down, and I didn’t tell them to other people; they were just for me. My earliest memory of telling stories goes back to being three years old.  It was a light summer evening and I had been put to bed but I wasn’t ready for sleep.  I can clearly remember hearing my dad whistling and making ‘construction’ noises elsewhere in the house as he built a wardrobe...
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Why I Wrote: The Du Lac Chronicles, by Mary Anne Yarde

Why I Wrote: The Du Lac Chronicles by Mary Anne Yarde I grew up in the land of myths. In the early morning, I would watch transfixed as the Fata Morgana, the mist, rose up over the ancient Isle of Avalon. The only thing visible was the Tor, and that floated on a sea of clouds. Growing up near Glastonbury it was easy to believe in King Arthur, and his Knights, all I had to do was look around, and there he was. Arthur is timeless. It matters not if he was a general in the Roman Army or a Dark Age warlord. What matters is that he fought for his people, for God, and for his knights. As a child, I was captivated by the stories of Arthur. He was everything heroic. Everything good. But, there was one aspect of the story that I never really understood. King Arthur's final battle was at a place called Camlann, and it was there that...
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Book Review: The Colour of Poison, by Toni Mount

Book Review: The Colour of Poison by Toni Mount I generally can find something I love about most books.  This is not to say that I’m not a critical reader, but for the most part I can take nearly any book at face value and enjoy it for the qualities it has as an individual work.  What can I say?  I’m a glass-half-full kinda gal!  I understand what goes into every aspect of writing, from the plot imagining, to the drafting, editing, polishing, etc.  It’s a tough, tough job when done well.  With that in mind, I tend to write positive reviews of the books I read, because what’s the point of tearing apart someone’s hard work if what I have to say is merely subjective?  And let’s be honest, most unfavorable reviews focus on the subjective.  Not every book will please every reader.  What might be one person’s negative could be another’s positive. An odd way to start a review?  Perhaps.  But...
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Book Review: The Du Lac Chronicles, by Mary Anne Yarde

Book Review: The Du Lac Chronicles by Mary Anne Yarde At its heart, The Du Lac Chronicles is a love story.  Forced together by the rash yet fearlessly daring decision of a young girl, our hero and heroine brave certain death by sword, arrow, dog, wolf, starvation, hypothermia, fratricide (I’ve probably missed a few)… sometimes simultaneously.  I was drawn into the book by the action and pace from page one, and the developing complexities of the story held me until the very end.  I’m not particularly fond of the romance genre, but even so I found myself cheering for the boy to get the girl the entire time, laughing out loud at the sometimes subtle, other times outright wit of the characters. The plot of the book is well thought out and well executed.  Telling the tale of a king who has lost his land and failed his people, we journey along with Alden Du Lac as he is given a second chance...
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Transformations in Writing, a guest blog by Richard Abbott

Transformations in Writing, a guest blog by Richard Abbott

Transformations in Writing A Guest Blog by Richard Abbott For a whole variety of reasons, I have been recently reading some late 18th and early 19th century literature. It's been quite an eye opener in several ways. For one thing, the Victorian stereotyping of gender had not yet appeared, and women writers could flourish without having to disguise their true self by an assumed or ambiguous name. Also, genres had not developed anything like the separation that came later. The particular area I want to write about today concerns the crossover between travel writing and fiction which was happening at that time. Even today, in an age when global travel is common, and images from every country on Earth are easy to access, good travel writing is widely appreciated. How much more was this true when there was no internet, no photography, and most people travelled only within their locality. Soldiers and sailors might well experience something of other countries, but they had no choice...
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Book Review: Kin of Cain, by Matthew Harffy

Book Review: Kin of Cain, by Matthew Harffy

Book Review: Kin of Cain, by Matthew Harffy I have been a fan of the Bernicia Chronicles almost from the beginning, though I was a wary convert.  Usually one to be skeptical of books when one is “supposed” to like it (I generally steer clear of popular best-seller lists, Oprah book club selections, etc.), I prefer to make up my own mind about them.  If a celebrity or a highly paid marketing firm suggests it, my cynic’s mind kicks in.  So when I heard that Harffy’s first book, The Serpent Sword, was compared to one of my favorite authors, Bernard Cornwell, I immediately pushed it aside.  Cornwell has been writing for 20 years or so, and his novels have appeared on the small screen (Richard Sharpe and the Saxon stories).  Cornwell has a huge following and is widely considered one of the best battle scene writers. But… I wanted to know what the hype was all about.  I’d seen his name pop...
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Why I Wrote: In a Mental Institution, by Erin Jensen

Why I Wrote: In a Mental Institution, by Erin Jensen

Why I Wrote: In a Mental Institution A Guest Post by Erin Jensen I think the concept for any story begins with a why or a what if.  We writers are constantly looking at the world around us and asking, what if?  As a pharmacist, I've spent a fair share of time around mentally ill individuals.  In college, I did a hospital rotation on a psychiatric floor where the elevator could only be accessed by key, and I've worked in the community pharmacy setting for years.  Throughout my career, I've conversed with mentally ill individuals at various points along the spectrum of sanity—from the properly medicated high functioning mental patient, to the unmedicated schizophrenic who has lost much of their grasp on reality—and in every conversation, no matter how coherent, I've looked into their eyes and seen a soul struggling to connect with the world around them.  I've witnessed the devastating effects that a traumatic brain injury or a stroke or temporary deprivation of...
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Why I Wrote: A Series, by Anna Belfrage

Why I Wrote: A Series, by Anna Belfrage

Why I Wrote: A Series A Guest Post by Anna Belfrage I might as well come clean right from the start and admit I never had an intention of writing more than one book about my time travelling Alexandra Lind and her 17th century man, Matthew Graham. Truth be told, I found the idea of one book quite daunting. After years of writing little bits and pieces there, of deleting 30 000 words and starting anew multiple times, I had almost given up on ever completing the dratted book. It was mostly Matthew’s fault. “My fault?” He scowls. “Is it my fault you chose to depict me as it fitted your preconceived notions of what a Calvinist Scot should be? Is it my fault…” Whatever. Best block him out. Let’s just say that Matthew’s character arc developed in a totally different direction than originally intended, and… “Thank heavens for that,” Alex breaks in. “Imagine shackling me to some dour Knox-like type.” No, that...
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