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Daughter of a Thousand Years Gave Me My Thought-Provoking Viking Fix!

Out today (Feb. 21, 2017) is Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella! Check out the synopsis below and then stay to read my release day review! I really enjoyed this book!

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Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella

Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 442 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval Romance

Greenland, AD 1000

More than her fiery hair marks Freydís as the daughter of Erik the Red; her hot temper and fierce pride are as formidable as her Viking father’s. And so, too, is her devotion to the great god Thor, which puts her at odds with those in power—including her own brother, the zealous Leif Eriksson. Determined to forge her own path, she defies her family’s fury and clings to her dream of sailing away to live on her own terms, with or without the support of her husband.

New Hampshire, 2016

Like her Icelandic ancestors, history professor Emma Moretti is a passionate defender of Norse mythology. But in a small town steeped in traditional values, her cultural beliefs could jeopardize both her academic career and her congressman father’s reelection. Torn between public expectation and personal identity, family and faith, she must choose which to honor and which to abandon.

In a dramatic, sweeping dual narrative that spans a millennium, two women struggle against communities determined to silence them, but neither Freydís nor Emma intends to give up without a fight.

I loved Amalia’s former Helen of Sparta series and you’ll find reviews for those books and an inteview with Amalia on my site already. However, when I heard Amalia would be publishing a book featuring one of my top favorite topics, and I’m not shy about this one – VIKINGS – I was all in! I have to say that in looking forward to it so much when I actually found time to squeeze in reading it, I was captivated.

Amalia writes Daughter of a Thousand Years in dual time periods and with two female protagonists. Emma is in the modern age of 2016, the daughter of a politician and a Catholic, and Freydis, living a thousand years earlier, is a pagan, a Thor worshipper, and the daughter of the infamous Eric the Red.

I am not the type of editoral reviewer that rehashes plots, but in this book, Amalia explores religions of the different time periods and how the women, and their family structures, dealt with them. Emma has always been interested in Viking history, but as her family expects (in most ways) perfection, Emma finally finds the courage to be true to herself when she wishes to explore the pagan religion of Thor. As Catholics, of course, her parents aren’t pleased, so she’s brave to stand up for herself. Meanwhile, a thousand years earlier, Freydis struggles to stay true to her own pagan religion and family as the wave of Christianity and converstions begins in society. Of course, we’ve read or seen these themes before…well, I have since I seek out books like this out of interest, and of course, we’ve seen this juxtaposition in history between Viking pagans and English Christianity as the Vikings began their exploring (which is viewable even on the show “Vikings,” but for some reason, it’s not getting old yet. There are still stories to be told that speak to the bravery and courage of those who believe in their own spiritual depths, as well as those who choose to align with another. Isn’t this even a common theme in society today, that people need to understand each other, and religions, to make peace with each other? I think the dual storylines really showed the fact that this issue is still strong today.

I also thought that Amalia did a wonderful job of featuring two strong and fiesty women that have many similarities even if they lived so far removed. Of course, the history section was a favorite, as it’s my first love, and she has superb historical writing. There was more background and research, and as times were tougher, I think it only served that Freydis would be a bit more animated and have more to fight through in an actual action sort of way. But I thought she wrote Emma just as well for our time period, and growing up in the now, is quite different than then! She was strong in forging her own way, even if countries and treasures and survival didn’t depend on it. Possibly her family felt their careers depended on it, but really that is nothing to what they endured so long ago. Emma showed great fortitude in becoming her own original person and not fitting the mold, which does still take bravery, especially when it means stading up to one’s parents.

As always, Amalia’s writing is beautiful and captivating. Her dialogue and character development, which her books show she always has worked hard on, continue to improve. We can see the locations, feel the characters emotions, and cheer them on in our own ways. As I mentioned her settings and descriptions are wonderful to read. I do believe the historical lean that Amalia puts on her books, as opposed to strictly historical romance, make books like Daughter of a Thousand Years stand out.

If you like to be swept away in a good historical fiction read, and like memorable reads with strong female characters, this is a good book for you to dive into eyes first. Pick this up as one of your highlights of th first half of 2017. Fans of “Vikings” should like the themes in this book and get a more unique look at women of that time period. Contemporary readers may even find their foray into historical fiction. Highly recommend – I give it 4 stars in hopes that she keeps challenging her prose.

Purchase –

Amazon

About Amalia Carosella –

03_Amalia Carosella Author (1).jpgAmalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com.

She also writes myth-steeped fantasy and paranormal romance under the name Amalia Dillin. Learn more about her other works at www.amaliadillin.com.

You can connect with Amalia Carosella on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and Google+. Sign up for her newsletter, The Amaliad, for news and updates.

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Review: YA Mystery/Thriller Dead Girls Society a Hit with My Teen and I

Today I have a review of a teen novel! I am getting into trying more of these out with my middle daughter as she has finally reached the age of being a teen and is reading quite a bit. We’ve read Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys and you can see our thoughts below. Stay tuned for another day sometime soon for an exclusive interview with Michelle as well.

A girl accepts a mysterious invitation to play a deadly game in this suspense-filled thriller from the author of HEXED—perfect for fans of NERVE by Jeanne Ryan and Lauren Oliver’s PANIC.

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Dead Girls Society, by Michelle Krys, Review –

Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys is a new teen novel that Penguin Random House Delacorte Press published with advertising of for ages level of 12 – 99. I agree this is a book my 13-year-old daughter and I both enjoyed! I had a feeling with her love of the mystery within TV shows such as Pretty Little Liars, and her penchant for reading books that feature the popular “game play with humans/humanity plots” such as Hunger Games or The Maze Runner, or even more recently, in her reading of The Giver and subsequent books in the series, that she might really enjoy this. Of course this book is not really dystopian in nature as the books I listed, but was instead a more modern take on  games and dares in which teens are engaged in as a result of issues in their lives. It’s our culture today as opposed to a future humanity or made up society, which leans it all the more authentic. The suspense and mysterious aura of the novel made it quite a page tuner and is what reminded me of one of our favorite teen television shows!

When I’m not reading for content or copy editing, I breeze through reading very, very quickly. This YA plot allowed me the comfort awhile back of an enjoyable evening of entertainment. My daughter likes to be captivated by her books, and she too, had no trouble staying up to turn the pages.

I know it’s hard to write in first person, but I loved the main character Hope so much that I feel it was the perfect tense in which to write it. Her development of Hope (and such a great name for a girl with a life-threatening illness) was so layered and emotional. I felt connected with her from the start. She was a firecracker and a fighter. I admire that. Growing up with bad lungs myself, and having a son who struggles with it on and off, I was so proud of the author for choosing someone with cystic fibrosis to be the main character. People don’t realize how much people (and especially teens) have to overcome when they have breathing issues, but also with the right personality, how they can seem to sometimes overcome more odds that those who breathe well. Hope is vibrant and smart and not defined by her disease. Her strength is a great personality trait that young girls can admire. It was easy for me to see the care and concern of Hope’s mom in myself.

Of course when Hope meets the other cast of cliche-type characters (as the author humorously writes – a throw back to The Breakfast Club) she realizes that people are trapped and unhappy for a myriad of reasons. That’s an important lesson for teenagers, and maybe even adults, to learn. Our life is what we make of it and we shouldn’t be confined by any constraints. The game and the interactions made this full of twists and turns and created a gothic-type of mystery thriller perfect for a puzzle lover like myself, but yet youthful enough to be enjoyed as well by my teenager. There are some bleak moments that will delight the teen readers with a pull toward the darker themes of life and how they can be endured.

I am not much for reading romance, so while I thought the subplot romance between Hope and her best friend Ethan a way to bring light during some of the heavier times, it wasn’t what sold me on the novel; however, my daughter absolutely loves romance – the more torturous they are and can make her cry, the better. She loved the the added bit of romance to balance out the mystery.

As for Michelle’s writing, she’s a lovely writer with lots of descriptive details that make you feel like you are within the settings whether in close quarters of a bedroom or out in New Orleans. Her words flow with ease and easily help you be able to quickly move forward in the book.

Overall, this was an exciting mystery thriller to curl up with on a weekend night. Teenagers and their moms will both be enamored by a courageous character, a secret society of dark games and dares, and an ending you might not see coming.

The way the book ends, we are hoping that Michelle will be writing another book in this series, and if so, we look forward to it. 4.5 stars.

*I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

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Dead Girls Society, Synopsis –

You are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares. Tell no one, and come alone. If you dare.

Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college.And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.

When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she just might win some real money.

But the Society isn’t all that it seems… and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn’t a choice—it’s a requirement.

Praise for Dead Girls Society

“Dark, twisty, and thrilling.” —Danielle Paige, New York Times best-selling author of Dorothy Must Die

“A delicious and fast-paced read! This one kept me up way past my bedtime!” —Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’

Purchase

Amazon

Michelle Krys, Author Biography

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MICHELLE KRYS is the author of Hexed, Charmed, and Dead Girls Society. When she’s not writing books for teens, Michelle moonlights as a NICU nurse.

Michelle is probably not a witch, though she did belong to a witchcraft club in the fifth grade and “levitated” people in her bedroom, so that may be up for debate.

She lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, with her family.

Find more at: michellekrys.com

Follow Michelle on Facebook and Twitter.

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Review: A Song of War is Excellent Epic Collaboration of Troy

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Review –

One of my favorite historical and mythical places to read, watch, and learn about is Troy. Of course, I was quite pleased when the H Team collection of stellar historical authors, several of whom are already some of my favorite authors, decided to make it their focus for their next continuity anthology called A Song of War: A Novel of Troy! It’s quite a large book so I was happy I had the time to read and savor each section over a few months. Different than many anthologies, except the other great ones by the H Team, it takes a time period and place with each author identifying with a person and featuring them with similar supporting characters. The book as a whole then intertwines all the stories, even with the authors showcasing snippets of a previous author’s character in the interactions with their character, and creates a whole over arching view, which in this collection spans over a decade. To me, it’s clever and such an interesting way to read a story.

We generally know about the Trojan War and don’t always realize the entire story of the Iliad’s cast of characters. This book allowed them to be expanded on and shone in various ways that me, and maybe other readers, might not have ever thought of before.

I really enjoyed how when Kate Quinn started off the series, she was able to set it up to show us that many different types of cultures and people lived in Troy and interacted together. She showed us that there was some prejudices toward people based on skin color and I felt it was a good mirror for the current issues that lie today in the U.S., in which some don’t want to accept our melting pot.She also was able to write Helen of Troy as the strong willed, if not a little jilted, woman I had come to love myself, gaining some momentum in her section as far as character development by juxtaposing Helen’s personality and relationship situation against that of  Andromache, who is clever and witty. I did see Helen as somewhat more settled or resigned in her situation with her husband, King Menelaus, than I normally thought her to be, but it worked with Kate’s story. I loved her characterization of Andromache especially – I found her inquisitive, funny, and smart. The various discussions and thoughts between the other characters in each section of her portion were intriguing and made me very interested to read the rest of the stories. She has, as always, a knack for dialogue and humor.

Stephanie Thornton’s second song, or story, featured Cassandra, the biracial twin of Hellenus. Her careful display of Hellenus, and her frustrations, are touching and poignant. Exploring the dark regions of her character’s mind invoked me into the inner realm of Troy; the part that lies within these characters who are experiencing such turmoil and confusion. Her steady pace and intuitive prose was like a drum beat of war, pacing the tension as the book started to deeply unfold. As Kate introduced the concept that people in Troy where of all mingling races, Stephanie extends that as well into her story, allowing these two stories to complement each other so very well and get the book off to an outstanding start in its first 100 pages. Of course Stephanie is a beautiful writer, amazingly descriptive and she really sets the scenes before our eyes.

Each of the authors brought a specific need and voice to the body of work. Russell Whitfield is an author I didn’t really know previously, but he’s certainly caught my eye. His writing style is somewhat different, maybe it’s the sentence structure, but it created a flow for me while I read and a desire to know, to understand, and to empathize with his characters. It’s not easy being the author who has to write about a character like Agamemnon, that generally most people don’t like and that history has showcased as being a harsh commander of war (AKA King of Argos). But Russell writes with compassion, with feeling, and with a depth and talent. He gives to us the story of a man who really hasn’t been able to tell his story yet, and he accomplished it very well.

Christian Cameron is another author I had heard of, but never read. He writes in a more old-fashioned style, which is quite fine, it’s just that he gets to his point with precision and doesn’t embellish. I tend to like a little more breathing room within my sentences. He wrote the story of a female character, Briseis, which is actually one of my personal favorite characters. She was a slave to Agamenmon. I am not sure, since I haven’t read him previously, if he would normally write a woman with a more matter-of-fact personality, or this is just what he planned for Briseis, but either way, he gave her a different persona than what I had in my head previously. It took a minute to get used to it, but I can value his style and perceptions. He is excellent in terms of action writing and has a great style for war and military action. He presented Achilles rather well I’d say. I would have preferred he’d softened Briseis and his dialogue to a degree, but his story fit in nicely with all the rest and helped to complete the package and fit more pieces of the puzzle together.

Libbie Hawker is one of those authors that I know of her work but have not had the time yet to read so I didn’t know what  to expect. Her story focused mainly on Philoctetes, who comes to Troy without the war baggage of the rest of the stories. He pines for Achilles and feels this loss, just as he also carried the weight of the word “hero” on his shoulders. He possesses Heracles bow, and with it, to many, power. It was wonderful to see Libbie write this tale of a gay man with such emotion and delicacy, letting us see his inner strength of mind and purpose. I love the interaction between Achilles and Philoctetes once they meet up again – their friendship and understanding was touching. Achilles has war fatigue which was evident and the hope that Philoctetes reverberated, his intent to save him after receiving an omen, is striking. She seemed to hone home about them being ordinary men, which I suppose we could think historically they were, but as a person who really loves the mythology of it all, it did set me back a bit. However, I suppose that is what makes you think. The final battles between characters at the end of her story – I don’t want to give any spoilers – were tragic and swift and left me somewhat in tears. I enjoyed her story overall and we still get wonderful glimpses and nuggets of the other characters from throughout the book.

Vicky Alvear Shecter writes the second to the last story of Odysseus. It’s a short piece but one that’s needed as she shows a war torn Troy- a place in need of this war to end. Her ingenuity in her interpretation and re-telling of the legend of the Trojan Horse was astoundingly good and I would have never seen it coming. I’m already a huge fan of Vicky and as always her characterization is excellent and her writing good, but it’s her idea and take on this old myth that left me speechless. She’s stellar in the way that she can tell a story in less pages than most and have as much or more impact as the others. I loved how she tied up quickly lots of scenes within the other stories, as well as tightened the overall arc, before setting it up in priceless fashion and letting the reader head into the final story by SJA Turney.

SJA is another writer again that I’ve not read (even though I should as he writes Roman novels), but to be given the task of writing the last story in the book, I knew he had to be trusted enough to be able to pull it all together in a way that would give the book a lasting legacy. Now, after reading his story of Aeneas, I can see why he had to write this last song or story. To allow us a glimpse into this finale of Troy. In a quick lesson, Aeneas was a character of Homer (related to some of the other characters in  A Song of War) that migrates from there to Italy and ties in as an ancestor of Rome by the time Virgil takes over for Homer. It’s in this way that Aeneas is so important to the everything. SJA writes this last story so phenomenally well; with grace and emotion, with fortitude to write something so dire and sad, and with eloquence and emotion. I am a new fan of SJA and will be seeking out his other works. I really loved his writing style. In wrapping up A Song of War, he really did an amazing job of pulling all the strings together and leaving us with closure and hope.

Overall, this epic story of Troy was a huge undertaking by this group of authors that surpassed my expectations. I could tell not only did they each write a story, but they worked with each other on all the stories to make sure characters lined up as far as plot and personality, calling on each other’s strengths, and really made it all look rather seamless so that it appeared almost if they wrote a novel together instead of separate stories.

A Song of War is one of the best books you’ll ever find to read surrounding Troy, and if you love Homer’s Iliad, you’ll certainly want to take a closer look at all the characters you love and hate by reading this collection. Love, greed, war, myth, humanity, passion, sacrifice, jealously, intrigue – A Song of War has it all. College English and history classes won’t be teaching only the Iliad anymore, they’ll be reaching for A Song a War to accompany it. It was a pleasure to read and is the perfect book for any history or myth lover and well worth investing in this bookshelf keepsake. It’s one to be read more than once to really appreciate its depth.

02_a-song-of-warA Song of War: A Novel of Troy

by Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, and Russell Whitfield
Foreward by Glyn Iliffe

Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Knight Media, LLC
eBook & Paperback; 483 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Ancient History/Anthology

Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years. But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy’s gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.

A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.

A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.

A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.

A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.

A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.

A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.

A goddess’ son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood.

Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?

Amazon | Amazon UK | Kobo

About the Authors

CHRISTIAN CAMERON was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa,Christian Cameron and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.

After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age four. And a half.

LIBBIE HAWKER was born in Rexburg, Idaho and divided her childhood between Eastern Idaho’s rural environs and the greater Seattle area. She presently lives in Seattle, but has also been a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah; Bellingham, Washington; and Tacoma, Washington. She loves to write about character and place, and is inspired by the bleak natural beauty of the Rocky Mountain region and by the fascinating history of the Puget Sound.

After three years of trying to break into the publishing industry with her various books under two different pen names, Libbie finally turned her back on the mainstream publishing industry and embraced independent publishing. She now writes her self-published fiction full-time, and enjoys the fact that the writing career she always dreamed of having is fully under her own control.

KATE QUINN is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter. She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. The LA Times calls Cleopatra’s Moon, “magical” and “impressive.” Publisher’s Weekly said it was “fascinating” and “highly memorable.” The Wall Street Journal called it “absorbing.”

STEPHANIE THORNTON is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

Her novels, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora, Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan, and The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great, tell the stories of history’s forgotten women.

SJA TURNEY lives with his wife, son and daughter, and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire.

Marius’ Mules was his first full length novel. Being a fan of Roman history, SJA decided to combine his love of writing and love of the classical world. Marius’ Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum – an attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome.

These have been followed by numerous sequels, with three books in the fantasy ‘Tales of the Empire’ series and five in the bestselling ‘Marius’ Mules’ one. 2013 has seen the first book in a 15th century trilogy – ‘The Thief’s Tale’ – and will also witness several side projects seeing the light of day.

RUSSELL WHITFIELD was born in Shepherds Bush in 1971. An only child, he was raised in Hounslow, West London, but has since escaped to Ham in Surrey.

Gladiatrix was Russ’s first novel, published in 2008 by Myrmidon Books. The sequel, Roma Victrix, continues the adventures Lysandra, the Spartan gladiatrix, and a third book, Imperatrix, sees Lysandra stepping out of the arena and onto the field of battle.

Giveaway

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Review: On the Edge of Sunrise by Cynthia Ripley Miller – Romance and Political Intrigue in 450 AD

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On the Edge of Sunrise (The Long-Hair Saga #1)

by Cynthia Ripley Miller

Publication Date: March 23, 2015
Knox Robinson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 309 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance

When love commands, destiny must obey.

The year is AD 450. The Roman Empire wanes as the Medieval Age awakens. Attila the Hun and his horde conquer their way across Europe into Gaul. Caught between Rome’s tottering empire and Attila’s threat are the Frankish tribes and their ‘Long-Hair’ chiefs, northern pagans in a Roman Christian world, and a people history will call the Merovingians.

A young widow, Arria longs for a purpose and a challenge. She is as well versed in politics and diplomacy as any man … but with special skills of her own. The Emperor Valentinian, determined to gain allies to help stop the Huns, sends a remarkable envoy, a woman, to the Assembly of Warriors in Gaul. Arria will persuade the Franks to stand with Rome against Attila.

When barbarian raiders abduct Arria, the Frank blue-eyed warrior, Garic, rescues her. Alarmed by the instant and passionate attraction she feels, Arria is torn between duty and desire. Her arranged betrothal to the ambitious tribune, Drusus, her secret enlistment by Valentinian as a courier to Attila the Hun, and a mysterious riddle—threaten their love and propel them into adventure, intrigue, and Attila’s camp. Rebels in a falling empire, Arria and Garic must find the strength to defy tradition and possess the love prophesied as their destiny.

Review

For always saying I don’t read romance, I certainly am reading a lot of historical romance lately. However, when I am asked to review these historical fiction books I pick them because of all the great history and plot involved. I think the romance is something swirled into it, but not at all like a harlequin-type read. On the Edge of Sunrise, Book One of the Long-Hair Saga, by Cynthia Ripley Miller, is one of those types of books that is filled full of historical detail and story based on a great deal of research of 450 AD and the conflict between Attila the Hun, Gaul, and the Frankish Long-Hair chiefs.

This side of the world during this time period is something I’ve rarely read about or seen much written on and it was refreshingly new and different. I do generally really enjoy ancient history and so much of this was enticing. I can tell that Cynthia did an extensive amount of research of cultures/tribes, battles, weaponry, and landscape of the time to give readers a beautifully detailed account of the heated interactions and political machinations.

The romance between Arria, a Roman, and Garic, a Frank warrior, lends to soften to the over political story and bring some suspenseful tension. We are propelled by their dangerous love story through the pages quickly and treated to a foundation of history of the time period. She wrote two heroic and courageous people as her leads, even though they come from different experiences. The book doesn’t focus on their romance too much though, but more on those that surround them and interact with them (and conspire against them) which creates a dramatic story line filled with a well-developed cast.

Cynthia adeptly creates the time period for us in all its tenuous detail, with many vivid images. I enjoyed learning about the rise of Christianity in that area and the juxtaposition of all the cultures. She wrote battle scenes well without over doing the violence, but with fervent action that kept the book exciting. Her descriptions are bold and helped to carry the book along for me as a reader.

As an editor, some constructive things I might note for future development is to work on the dialogue to seem more natural, and not forced or stilted. Maybe she did that to represent it being so long ago  and not their actual language, but I think it could be softened. Also, I was also a little held up by sentence structure and felt that the book could improve by letting the sentences flow more freely. The cover is pretty, but makes it look like it’s all romance when it has so much else to offer!

Overall, it took me some focused concentration to read as it taught so much history between its pages, and her prose wasn’t light and airy, but more grounded, but that’s not a bad thing. It wasn’t a quick light romance at all, but I don’t like to read those anyway. I just tell you that in case that’s what you’re looking for in your historical fiction. It’s a deep look at a ancient time and place not often showcased, where so many rivaled for power, as well as the story of a very motivated and intelligent woman who used her abilities to change her own destiny.

I recommend for a long weekend by the fireplace somewhere it’s cold and your can cuddle up inside and get lost in time. Myself, I look forward to the next book in the series.

Purchase

AMAZON (KINDLE) | AMAZON (PAPERBACK) | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Praise

“From cover to cover a gripping read – in all senses of the word! Grips your interest and imagination, your held breath and your pounding heart! A thumping good novel!” –Helen Hollick, USA Today bestselling author & Managing Editor Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews

“AD 450. The Roman Empire is breaking apart, and Attila the Hun has his sights set on conquering Gaul. … The love story between Garic and Arria is set against a background of fierce battles, intrigue, jealousy and betrayal. … The story weaves, twists and turns at a tremendous pace, and the characters leap off the pages, which simply keep on turning. This is the author’s debut novel, the first in her ‘Long Hair’ series. I look forward to reading more in due course. Recommended. – Marilyn Sherlock, Historical Novel Society, HNR Issue 74 (November 2015)

“On the Edge of Sunrise is a compelling epic, sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction. Forbidden love, a turbulent time period, and world-changing events combine to produce a real page-turner.” – India Edghill, author of Queenmaker, Wisdom’s Daughter, and Delilah

“On the Edge of Sunrise is a passionate and intriguing take on the often overlooked clash of three brutal and powerful empires: the Romans, Franks, and Huns. A Compelling read!” – Stephanie Thornton, author of The Secret History and The Tiger Queens

03_Cynthia Ripley Miller.jpgAuthor Cynthia Ripley Miller, Biography

Cynthia Ripley Miller is the author of On the Edge of Sunrise, the first novel in the Long-Hair Saga, a series set in late ancient Rome and France, and a Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist. She has lived and traveled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean, taught history and currently teaches English. Her short stories have appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, The Scriptor, and at Orchard Press Mysteries.com.

Cynthia blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus and on her website, http://www.cynthiaripleymiller.com. She lives with her husband and their cat, Romulus, and German Shepherd, Jessie, in a suburb of Chicago. Book Two: The Quest for the Crown of Thorns will be published in October of 2016.

For more information visit http://www.cynthiaripleymiller.com. You can also connect with Cynthia on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

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Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @CRipleyMiller

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Review: Stunning Novel Avelynn: The Edge of Faith by Marissa Campbell

Today, I have a review of book two, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, in the Avelynn series from one of my favorite writers, Marissa Campbell! I read this some time back and fell in love with it, kinda like I did the first one, Avelynn. You can read that review HERE. It’s a series, but they can be read stand alone as well. Secondly, check out this beautiful cover by Jenny Q, and then the blurb of the book, so you know a little about what it’s about….

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Avelynn: The Edge of Faith

by Marissa Campbell

Publication Date: September 26, 2016
eBook; 302 Pages
ASIN: B01KUC6N9Y

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval
Series: Avelynn (Book Two)

Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, a stand-alone Viking Romance from author Marissa Campbell.

It’s the year 871. Charges of treason, murder, and witchcraft follow Avelynn into exile as she flees England with Alrik. Arriving in Wales, they find refuge among Alrik’s friends in the Welsh nobility. Cast out by his half-brothers, Alrik seeks to regain his honor and earn favor with the gods. When war threatens, Alrik embraces gold and the opportunity for his crew to become mercenaries, aiding the Southern Welsh kings in their fight against Rhodri the Great.

Desperate to return home, Avelynn seeks to find a way to prove her innocence, but she is pitted against Alrik as their desires for the future clash. With battle looming, Avelynn’s faith in their relationship is further tested through a bitter struggle with Marared, a jealous lover from Alrik’s past. Marared’s threats turn deadly, and Avelynn runs afoul of magic and sorcery, causing her to question her beliefs and role as priestess.

When Avelynn and Alrik are betrayed, Avelynn is captured and Alrik is charged with regicide. The two become separated, a chasm of greed, deceit, and ambition driving them apart. In an act of harrowing faith, Avelynn will stop at nothing to find her way back to Alrik and break them both free from Wales’s bloodthirsty grasp.

AVELYNN: THE EDGE OF FAITH is a stand-alone novel and #2 in the Avelynn series.

Review –

Let me start off by saying that Marissa Campbell is a phenomenal writer. For me, being an editor and long time book reader and reviewer, it takes <this> level of writer to allow me to fully immerse myself in a book in a way that makes it entertainment for me. It’s hard for my mind to allow me to be swept me away to another time and place without habitually dissecting the work. And I’ve been craving that because I love reading!

I read her debut novel, Avelynn from St. Martin’s Press, last year and have been looking forward to more from Marissa since then. This is the type of writing that immediately captivates me and holds me hostage. My mind doesn’t wander innately to seeing content or dialogue flaws or ever get glitched by sentence structure or errors. Marissa doesn’t realize what an amazing writer she is and how much she stands out in an overwhelming sea of books. She’s a blockbuster in my opinion. Her second novel, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, is a stand alone but also follows the story of the characters from the first novel. I believe that this second work is even better than the first and I didn’t think that was possible!

So what makes Marissa’s writing and Avelynn: The Edge of Faith so good? Besides being quite flawless editorial wise, her words flow poetic, like sugar on my tongue. The story dissolves smoothly and quickly and her vocabulary and phrasing makes even me in awe. I want all my writing to come out like hers. With a beauty not often found in novels these days, her writing is art and her characters and settings glow.

Speaking of characters, in this second book we really are able to see Avelynn blossoming in her own right, asserting her independence and knowing her need to be respected, yet also respectful of her betrothed – Alrik. She’s vibrant and strong, flowing with the power of the goddess and I could SWEAR I KNOW Avelynn personally. I connected to her and she flies off the page in fully dimensional development, but yet that’s an after reflection, not something I thought about during the reading of the novel. I was too wrapped up in her emotions, trials, fears, and triumphs. She has so much power inside her and that reverberates so clearly. Alrik’s character is also fully developed and the perfect complement to Avelynn – he’s also strong and knows how to gently reign in her in. He’s the protective type and a rock to her, giving her more strength and the ability to grow within herself. Marissa knew just the right type of man to place with Avelynn. Their ease together – their dialogue and actions – through arguments, tension, and gentle moments is both comical and endearing.

This relationship is the basis of why this is categorized as a romance, though to me, someone who rarely reads romances because I find them so fake, forced or contrived, I feel the romance encased itself as the glue to the suspenseful drama of the plot of this book. And…that was a GOOD thing. I see why this was lightly compared to Outlander by Diana Gibaldon, even thought it’s not time travel in nature. For me, I totally love the show Vikings, and this book is helping to cure my pining for the next season to return, so this is absolutely like mixing the show Vikings with Games of Thrones. It was about relationships, including romance, mixed with the strife and fighting of the times! I LOVED the romance in this book, and yes there is some steamy scenes, because Marissa knows how to write romance to make it feel real and natural (and HOT!). She makes me blush. It’s the type of passion that so many authors have trouble with…but not Marissa. I swear she is a sex whisperer. If you want a totally clean read, here’s your warning that this is not it, but maybe if you are feeling daring this is the book for you to try!

As for the plot in the book, Avelynn and Alrik have had to flee England as Avelynn is accused of witchcraft and murder, among other things. She is a preistess of the goddess and adheres to her pagan beliefs seriously. She feels the power and the hand of the gods with her and wants to stay grounded and follow their guidance. However, she is not a witch and doesn’t relate to magic. When she meets a past lover of Alrik in Wales, who threatens her with evil witchcraft she doesn’t know how to react at first. She seeks the counsel of her ancestors but is left with more questions rather than insight and has to figure out her proper path on her own with one constant – she wants to be by Alrik’s side. Things don’t always go as planned though, even if you have the gods on your side.

This is what I enjoyed the most the book – all the fantasy elements. To me, this book primarily read as a fantasy-based historical and I suppose that is where some of my Games of Thrones attribution comes into play. When Marissa digs into her writing with fervor, she is unmatched in description and detail. She creates sense of place and atmosphere at different stages that made me not just feel like I was painted a picture, but that I was inside a virtual reality sequence – walking around in the place myself behind the character, or maybe even that I AM the characters – kind of like I was in the movie Avatar! Marissa’s ability to write visually is exceptional. I totally wish that this would become an historical fantasy show on streaming television, because I totally want to watch it!

When you read Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, you’ll read way more than a romance or fantasy though, you’ll see the struggles of intertwining faiths and practices at a volatile time for England during the Viking take-over. You’ll read a woman fighting for her beliefs while also trying to come to terms with some of her own practices and those of others. You’ll read a well-researched historical base, so superb in fact, you’ll forget that the author had to create this world from historical basis mixed with a large imagination. As a reader, you’ll feel what the people of that time may have felt – a deep desire to hold on to ancestry and yet grow with the times testing her own inner faith and desires.

I don’t like to give too much plot away in my reviews, but to tell you my experiences. This was a very smooth and quick read that dipped me on a vacation back to medieval Wales, with lush and decadent description, sizzling romance, strong fantastical elements and plot, and I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t use my hair dryer or inside plumbing, I WANT to be in this story as Avelynn myself. Thank you Marissa for captivating me and making me feel passionate about words – oh, and feeding my Viking obsession.

So, book three ready yet, eh??

Get your copy now – I promise you – you’ll love it!!

AMAZON (KINDLE) | BARNES & NOBLE (NOOK) | KOBO

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Author Marissa Campbell, Biography

Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. Her debut historical fiction AVELYNN, was published through St. Martin’s Press, September 2015.

She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7. When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!

For more information visit http://marissacampbell.com. You can also follow Marissa Campbell on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsGoogle+TumblrPinterest, and Instagram.

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