Tag Archives: Byzantine Empire books

The Eagle and the Swan by Carol Strickland is a Beautiful Historical Biography of Theodora, with Unique Digital Options

The Eagle and the SwanI can’t rave enough about the experience I’ve had over the last month with Carol Strickland’s The Eagle and the Swan, Part 1 and the enhanced version offered by Erudition Digital. At first I had only read part one as I thought that was all I was offered in exchange for an honest review so I read it on the Kindle and then read it again and took time using the enhanced version on the PC (though I will go back and check out on the Ipad as well). I’ll get back to that in a little bit.

This novel features the rise and life of Empress Theodora during the time of the Byzantine Empire (6th Century), a time period that leaves me quite enthralled. It seems to be rising in popularity as more historical women are being earthed from the long-buried dirt and adorned with rich and vibrant details to jump at us off the page. Theodora is the main woman featured to us at the moment, due to her vibrant personality, her rags to riches story, and her political prowess during her reign with her husband, Roman Emperor Justinian the Great as they sought to reconquer some of the lost western world.

Though many novels featuring these queens of strength, light, intelligence, and political might are written with a more fantasy appeal, and are very good in their own right as well, this novel is also highly researched and well-written as if it will be featured as an epic movie, like Cleopatra or Spartacus. A movie we might see now remastered and colored that we sit absorbed for four hours to watch. It tends toward a more historical masterpiece that explodes with information and is told from the viewpoint of a monk, a childhood friend. It juxtaposes between time seamlessly and offers superb dialogue as we learn about these larger than life, though real, historical people. It’s definitely a historical biography and features so much information that it’s a great historical resources for other writers or students.

Even with this said, it’s also vibrant, lush in details, the sentences smooth and delightful, and her descriptions beautiful and immaculate. It’s compelling and urges you to turn the page, as not only is Theodora’s story engaging, but the book flows smoothly. It has intrigue, sex, decadence, shame, love, scandals, paranoia, and so much more. It easily runs the emotional gamut. And that is just part one.

Unfortunately I can only review part one at this time, as when I added it to the Kindle for review and read the extra version on the PC, I wasn’t aware that I was able to download part 2-4 for the review as well. I sure wish it would have been made more clear to me, but in the end I did some searching on the Erudition website and figured out that joining the Reader’s Club allowed me access to part 2-4. It’s totally my fault for not taking the time to look earlier, always hurrying.

Anyway, it’s pretty cool that they do that to get feedback and social sharing after each portion. From a marketing standpoint, as a professional one myself, I think this is a unique, fresh, and engaging idea, but I learned too late. I hope other readers coming in to the site understand how to purchase it. I am thrilled though to go back and read 2-4 now and I’ll add those in to the review here once I finish and revise this section. Good news is, I can’t wait to finish the other parts.

I spent a lot of time perusing and using the enhanced version. It includes all types of photos of the time period, plus plenty of words are highlighted so that if you click on them,  you can see a definition or a photo and short summary. This really adds to the novel is you are versed in the historical time period or people. I enjoyed all the photos throughout and felt it added so much to the overall experience. It wasn’t just a novel, it was an adventure in time. I also really liked the added bonuses at the end of the timelines, the maps of places like the Byzantine Empire, and other resources. My son is about to enter high school and is a huge historian, he is going to love having these maps and extra resources added to his reading on the Ipad. What a great way to help your talented and gifted children, or those interested in history, have additional content added to their studies.

Overall, I am thrilled. Not only will I read more of Carol Strickland, as she is a fabulous writer and historian with a great novel that could be destined for the big screen of old, or maybe now….oh, would they make epic historical movies again on a more mainstream level? One can only hope. I would also seek out  more of these types of digital reading experiences.

Part one of the book by Carol gets 5 stars from me, but as well Erudition’s new concept gets a high thumbs up. I just hope they make sure that most readers understand the concept clearly for best process though I am not sure buying from that site is an option for others yet. I think if you buy off Amazon, you just get the whole file. I’ll be watching for more to come, by both Carol and this publisher.

STAY TUNED FOR A GUEST ARTICLE BY CAROL TOMORROW

AND ENTER TO WIN 2 COPIES!!

The Eagle and the SwanThe Eagle and the Swan, Synopsis~

Publication Date: November 7, 2013
Erudition Digital
eBook
ASIN: B00GIR54MI

For 1,500 years she has been cruelly maligned by history. Labelled as corrupt, immoral and sexually depraved by the sixth-century historian Procopius in his notorious Secret History, the Byzantine Empress Theodora was condemned to be judged a degenerate harlot by posterity.

Until now.

Due to a conviction that its contents would only be understood by generations of the distant future, a manuscript that has remained unopened for a millennium and a half is about to set the record straight. It will unravel the deepest secrets of a captivating and charismatic courtesan, her unlikely romance with an Emperor, and her rise to power and influence that would outshine even Cleopatra.

This historical novel traces the love affairs, travails, machinations, scandals and triumphs of a cast of real characters who inhabit an Empire at its glorious and fragile peak. It’s the tale of a dazzling civilization in its Golden Age; one which, despite plague, earthquakes and marauding Huns, would lay the foundation for modern Europe as we know it.

Listen to an interview with Carol Strickland

Praise for The Eagle and the Swan

“It’s a book rife with detail and passion. If you like historical fiction this book hits on all cylinders. The level of detail in terms of prose and historical relevance is engaging. And THEN the plot is what’s moving. The love and lust combined with a compelling story, taking on universal themes from a cross-section of history, makes for a gripping work.”

“Carol Strickland has written a masterful epic. It is beautifully crafted and impossible to put down.”

“Beautiful storytelling. Fascinating and well-developed characters. What an interesting time in history! This book was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. The Eagle and the Swan is a must-read!”

Free Enhanced Preview~

Visit http://www.theeagleandtheswan.com/readers-club for a free enhanced preview of Part One of The Eagle and the Swan. The enhanced edition unites text, context and subtext with art, design elements and in-depth info for a visual and cultural history of the Golden Age of Byzantium. It provides an enticing preview for prospective readers as well as an illustrated catalogue for the complete story.

Buy the eBook~

Amazon

Author Carol Strickland, Biography~

Carol StricklandCarol Strickland is an art and architecture critic, prize-winning screenwriter, and journalist who’s contributed to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Art in America magazine. A Ph.D. in literature and former writing professor, she’s author of The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in the History of Art from Prehistoric to Post-Modern (which has sold more than 400,000 copies in multiple editions and translations), The Annotated Arch: A Crash Course in the History of Architecture, The Illustrated Timeline of Art History, The Illustrated Timeline of Western Literature, and monographs on individual artists.

While writing on masterpieces of Byzantine art (glorious mosaics in Ravenna, Italy featuring Theodora and Justinian and the monumental Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul built by Justinian), Strickland became fascinated by the woman who began life as a swan dancer and her husband, an ex-swineherd.

Knowing how maligned they were by the official historian of their era Procopius, who wrote a slanderous “Secret History” vilifying them, Strickland decided to let the audacious Theodora tell her story. She emerges not just as the bear-keeper’s daughter and a former prostitute who ensnared the man who became emperor, but as a courageous crusader against the abuse of women, children, and free-thinkers.

Author Links

Author Website
Book Website
Facebook Page
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Pinterest

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theeagleandtheswantour

Tour Hashtag: #EagleandtheSwanTour

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Interview with Historical Author Stephanie Thornton on Women in History, Writing, and Thoughts on Ancient Desserts!

Today I have an amazing interview with debut author Stephanie Thornton, who penned one of my favorite current books, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora! If you have a love of women in history who have overcome great odds and helped change history, this book is for YOU! You can read my review from June HERE!

Now, Stephanie talks about inspiration for her novel, what other intelligent women she’s writing about, and why she’s telling aspiring writers to never give up! PLUS there is a GIVEAWAY and you’ll see that information right under the interview. Enjoy!

The Secret History

Hi Stephanie, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am so happy to feature you back on the site in celebration of your debut novel release, The Secret History: a Novel of Empress Theodora.  How have you been taking it all in?

Stephanie: Thanks so much for having me, Erin. The last week has been a whirlwind of awesomeness, and I’m thrilled to be here!

Erin: I can only imagine your excitement! And well-deserved!! Let’s grab some coffee and start talking about everything under the sun, or at least as much as we can get to!

Q: The Secret History is your first published novel, correct? Where did you find the inspiration to write it?

A: This is indeed my first published novel. I’m a high school history teacher and was inspired to do some more research after reading a line in a textbook about an actress-turned-empress who saved her husband’s throne during riot by giving a rousing speech. That was Theodora’s famous speech during the Nika rebellion, but I soon found out there was so much more to her story!

Q:  Given the amount of research, how did you undertake that task? How long did it take you?

A: The research never ends! (I actually found a new portrait of Theodora this week, hidden in a Roman church, and wish I could go back and write a scene about it for the novel!) I start my research by reading the available primary texts from the era, then move on to biographies of my main characters. Once I have the story, then I move on to the setting details that really make the era come to life. Those pieces tend to fall into place during my final edit, so I’m truly researching the whole way through.

Erin comments: You are very good at setting the scene with amazing details. I can picture all you write as if I am truly there.

Q:  What was the most interesting tidbit about Theodora, or the people surrounding her, that you came across in your research?

A: I absolutely love that Theodora was the daughter of a bear trainer. I’m distantly related to the Bailey side of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus, so I like that we have a shared circus background!

Erin comments: That’s so cool!

Q:  The cover art for your book is beautiful. Did you find much art, creative writings, tapestries, or the like from this time period in Constantinople? I know you described some beautiful architecture and art in your book.  What other cultures influenced that empire creatively during the sixth century?

A: The Byzantine Empire was heavily influenced by the Italian Roman Empire, but was starting to diverge from the classic forms of architecture, as can be seen by the domes of the Hagia Sophia on the novel’s cover. (Which I love, by the way. I almost swooned when I first saw it.) It’s also interesting to note that Byzantine architecture spread out of Constantinople after Theodora’s time—St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice is considered Byzantine in structure. I’m not aware of many creative writings or tapestries from the time period, but fortunately for us, many of the stunning Byzantine mosaics survive to this day—one of the lasting impacts of Byzantine art as they truly excelled at mosaic-making. In fact, if you Google “Mosaics,” the first image you’ll see is one of Christ from the Hagia Sophia and another top hit is a portion of the mosaics from San Vitale in Ravenna, the site of Theodora’s famous mosaic.

Q:  Women from these ancient cultures seemed to have great strength of mind and soul.  Many times they seemed to be even revered by their male peers or significant others intellectually, politically, and romantically. How do you think this happened, even as sometimes women still struggle today with this issue?

A: I think it took a strong man to recognize these amazing women, as that was typically not the norm. Most ancient cultures viewed women as second-class citizens, so for a man like Justinian to realize Theodora’s strengths, and even fight to be allowed to marry her, speaks volumes as to the strength of his own character. Justinian battled laws forbidding his marrying a common actress, and also feuded with his aunt, who wanted him to marry a respectable girl (despite the fact that his aunt had also once been a prostitute). I think it was difficult for men to realize that they didn’t have to give up their power to allow women to also have their say, something that still impacts women today.

Erin comments: You’d think after thousands of years, that would be a simple fix (a man feeling weak when a woman is strong) but alas….it’s still a tad bit of a struggle in the modern world as well. Also, women like Justinian’s aunt who could take their success and use it to teach or help others, but instead of point fingers at someone else just because the finger was pointed at them, aren’t helpful either. Lessons for today many times are still spoken through history.

theomosaictheodora

Mosaic of Empress Theodora

Q:  Keeping in line with that, given the major lines drawn among social classes, the poverty in the city streets, and the actresses who were paid for their bodies, how did some of these women rise to the powerful legacies they become? It couldn’t have been easy.

A: It definitely wasn’t easy, and as it always does, luck played a huge part in Theodora’s uncommon ascent from the gutters to the throne. The Byzantine Empire allowed for some upward mobility, but only for a select few people. Life in the ancient world was brutal for the vast majority of the population, and there were often few choices for women. The fact is that Theodora’s determination, perseverance, and wit would have amounted to little had she not been able to attract a wealthy patron, something she would have been well aware of. Lucky for her, she managed to catch the eye of the future emperor, and was then able to use her talents to their full advantage!

Q:  I know you also like a favorite quote of mine: “Well-behaved women rarely make history!”  Can you expound on that notion and besides the fact that drama always is memorable, what else makes this true? Do you feel it is still true today?

A: That’s one of my favorite quotes—I have it on my webpage and also in my classroom! I think that in order for women in the ancient world to stand out and be remembered, they really did have to break the rules. If they didn’t, they were relegated to the background. Women like Theodora and her friend Antonina refused to let men call all the shots—even the men they loved—and weren’t afraid to voice their own opinions (or perform salacious and daring acts on stage). For Theodora, at least at Nika, that also meant that she was able to turn the tide of history. As for whether this is still true today, I think it’s a little easier for women to get noticed, but it’s still women who break the norms—Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Sandra Day O’Connor—who will likely end up remembered by the history books.

Erin comments: I agree. And though it’s sad that women standing up for beliefs, causes, or for their voice to be heard is considered risky, I applaud women who strive daily without fear and continue to work hard to change society

Q:  What other women in history are you writing about?  Can you talk a little about your next several books and the desire you have to bring to print “your forgotten women in history?”

A: My next novel, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS, is about Hatshepsut, Egypt’s first successful female pharaoh, and my personal idol since I was in the 7th grade. Hatshepsut financed major trade explorations, fought against foreign uprisings, and fell in love with a commoner, all while guiding Egypt into its Golden Age. My third book, THE TIGER QUEENS, will feature Genghis Khan’s first wife and several of his daughters. All of these women were integral to history, but sadly, have been largely forgotten. It seemed wrong that we all remember Cleopatra (who lost Egypt to the Roman Empire—I’ll forever hold that against her) and Anne Boleyn (who did give birth to Elizabeth I, but is mostly famous for getting her head chopped off), yet we don’t know about these other inspiring women who left such a legacy to history.

Erin comments: I agree! Hatshepsut has always been a favorite of mine and would love to see more books showing her in a positive light! Honestly, I have never even hear of Khan’s wife or family, so that will be really interesting!

Q: Besides the women you are currently writing on, what other women have you thought about featuring in a novel? Why?

A: I’m turning my eyes toward ancient Rome for my fourth novel, although I have yet to decide exactly who my new heroine will be. There are a couple of options, but I’m not allowed to start researching those women until I finish revising my third book!

Q:  What words of advice do you have for aspiring female writers? How would you motivate them to pursue their writing dreams?

A: Never give up! It’s cliché, but also so true. This business will wring the blood and tears right out of you, but if you’re passionate about what you’re writing, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I believed so much in the first book I wrote that I went back and rewrote it from the ground up after finishing THE SECRET HISTORY. That book will release next year as DAUGHTER OF THE GODS, despite all the people who told me it was impossible to get a book on ancient Egypt published these days. You can achieve whatever you want to, but not if you stop writing!

Erin comments: Ancient Egypt is my favorite historical subject to read and there are so many stories of magic and wonder to be told.

Q:  What has been your biggest challenge on your writing journey? Alternatively, what has been your biggest personal success?

A: I almost threw in the towel on the whole writing business in the midst of querying DAUGHTER OF THE GODS, (and having all those naysayers tell me ancient Egypt wasn’t “in”). But I love the women I write about, (I would go totally fan girl on them if I ever invented a time machine), and I knew I had to keep going. My biggest personal success was finding an agent, and then an editor, who believed that the world would want to know about these women.

Erin comments: It seems like such a no-brainer to me! It’s so sad to hear you had so much difficulty. As a reader, writer, and history buff myself, I have been on the look-out for books such as what you are writing! At least you are making this reader happy, but I bet you will many others too. Glad you kept going!

Stephanie Thornton

Author Stephanie Thornton

Q: With a family and a career as a teacher, how do you find the time to write? Do you “schedule” writing time on your calendar or just fit it in as possible? How do you gain support from your family for your writing time?

A: My only real writing time comes at night after my daughter is in bed. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who knows that for one golden hour, I have to hide away in my writing room and get the words into my laptop. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing everything by hand first and then typing it into my laptop, so with that system, I carry notebooks with me just about everywhere to take advantage of other random writing opportunities.

Q:  How do you find your character’s voice when writing? What are some character developing tips?

A: Each character is different, which is fun, but often challenging at the same time. Theodora is pretty snarky, and it was often easy to hear her sarcastic comments in my head as I was writing. I often have mottos for my characters to help determine both their voices and their actions. Theodora’s motto was easy: SURVIVE.

Q:  What other books and authors do you enjoy personally and why?

A: I will read just about anything, but I love historical fiction. (Of course!) My all-time favorite novel is MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA by Arthur Golden and I’ve loved all of Kate Quinn’s novels since MISTRESS OF ROME came out. I love books with a killer plot, characters I love and want to throttle at the same time, and lush, exotic settings.

Q:  The major question I really want to know is if you found any ancient secret baking recipes during your work? What might Theodora’s favorite dessert have been and what is your favorite?

A: Best question ever! First of all, I think it’s a tragedy that Theodora lived in a time without chocolate or ice cream. I’m not sure I would have survived. That said, I did come across a reference to a Byzantine dessert made of cream and sprinkled with orchid pollen. I’m not sure if it would have been any good (certainly not as good as ice cream), but I managed to include a reference to it in one of Theodora’s banquet scenes with Emperor Justin.

Erin comments: Oh, I am always about the food. And your food descriptions in your book were AMAZING!! I think I might even have to try that flower pollen…

Q:  Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A: You can pretty much find me everywhere these days! I’m online at www.stephanie-thornton.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStephanieThornton, and I tweet as @STephMThornton.

Erin:  Thank you so much, Stephanie, for joining me today on the site. I absolutely adored your book and writing style and I can’t wait for your next upcoming novels! I wish you the best of luck with your writing and hope to have you back again soon!

Stephanie: Thank you so much for having me, and for asking such fantastic questions! I hope we can meet up again when DAUGHTER OF THE GODS releases next year. (That is, if you like hippo attacks, musty tombs, and Egypt’s greatest pharaoh of course!)

Erin: I am absolutely already super excited for Daughter of the Gods!! I want to be first on the reading list!!

*******************************************************************************************

Giveaway~

The giveaway is for one paperback copy of The Secret History and open internationally!  To enter, please leave a comment under this post, or at the link on the Facebook page when it appears at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook. You can also email me at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com. Whichever you choose, please be sure to leave your own email so I can contact you.

Extra entries: +1 for following my blog and +3 for “liking” the Facebook page mentioned above which is a hub for reviews, interviews, and book news.

*******************************************************************************************

THE SECRET HISTORY, Synopsis~

The Secret HistoryPublication Date: July 2, 2013
NAL Trade
Paperback; 448p
ISBN-10: 045141778X

Where Theodora went, trouble followed…

In sixth century Constantinople, one woman, Theodora, defied every convention and all the odds, and rose from being a common theater tart to become empress of a great kingdom, the most powerful woman the Roman Empire would ever know. But the woman whose image was later immortalized in glittering mosaic was, in fact, a scrappy, clever, conniving, flesh-and-blood woman full of sensuality and spirit whose real story is as surprising as any ever told…

When her father dies suddenly, Theodora and her sisters face starvation on the streets. Determined to survive, Theodora makes a living any way she can—first on her back with every man who will have her, then on the stage of the city’s infamous amphitheater in a scandalous dramatization of her own invention. When her daring performance grants her a back-door entry into the halls of power, she seizes the chance to win a wealthy protector—only to face heartbreak and betrayal.

Ever resilient, Theodora rises above such trials and by a twist of fate, meets her most passionate admirer yet: the Emperor’s nephew. She will thrive as his confidant and courtesan, but many challenges lie ahead. For one day, this man will hand her a crown. And all the empire will wonder—is she bold enough, shrewd enough, and strong enough to keep it?

Praise for The Secret History

“Stephanie Thornton’s Theodora is tough and intelligent, spitting defiance against the cruel world of the Byzantine Empire. Her rise from street urchin to emperor’s consort made me want to stand up and cheer. Her later years as empress are great fun to read, but it was her early struggle as actress and courtesan that really had me roaring: either with rage at the misfortunes heaped on this poor girl, or with delight as she once more picked herself up with a steely glint in her eye and kept on going.”—Kate Quinn, author of Empress of the Seven Hills

“Loss, ambition and lust keep this rich story moving at top speed. Stephanie Thornton writes a remarkable first novel that brings a little known woman to full, vibrant life…A sprawling and irresistible story.”—Jeane Westin, author of The Spymaster’s Daughter

“A fascinating and vivid account; in The Secret History, the life of Empress Theodora leaps from the page, as colorful and complex as the woman herself.”—Michelle Diener, author of The Emperor’s Conspiracy

Author Stephanie Thornton, Biography~

Stephanie ThorntonStephanie 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.

For more information, please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thesecrethistoryvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SecretHistoryTour

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The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton: Historical Novel of Empress Theodora Delivers My Emotions to Me on a Platter!

The Secret HistoryLush historical novels that blend great story telling imagination and superb characterization, while also being based on factual discoveries, are complete gems to my library. Stephanie Thornton’s The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora is not only one to house on your personal shelves permanently, but one read that will have you remembering the characters forever.

This novel, based firmly on historical research about an almost forgotten woman of strength and power, Theodora of sixth-century Constantinople, is rich in details with words that fill all the senses and prose that slides smoothly along as hour upon hour tick by. I refused to put down the book for several long bouts. I was completely immersed in the book as if I were actually Theodora herself. Thornton’s well-developed characters were all engaging and endearing, and some loathed, but all superbly structured.

A woman of low-birth who had to act upon the stage in order to be paid for tricks, Theodora was well-read and intelligent (and could even write) unlike most other women at that time who could not afford private tutors. The laws were not easy for those who had no money so that advancement was unlikely and for women without a husband life was extremely hard. The only way to make money was to sell your body. Theodora must do this to survive, but after spending time in a church, she was able to become clean and rise the ranks through her cunning ability to forward-think, problem solve, and give an honest opinion even if it ended up being sometimes humorous. With her wit, she catches the eye and eternal love of Justinian, the nephew of the Emporer. Eventually, Justinian and Theodora are crowned together as Augusti and rule as Emporer and Empress for many years.

This novel is the story of Theodora’s very humble and scary beginnings, her rise to power, and her love story with Justinian. Theodora’s trials are many but her endurance strong. This novel evoked so many emotions in me as I read along the journey. I was horrified, saddened, and overcome with a desire to fix the eternal class struggle, as well as men’s views on women. I cheered, plotted, and felt happy. I was nervous, scared and many times I cried, but especially at the end. The ending of this book racked me with sobs.

I am in love with this book and with Theodora. Reminiscent of great writers like Tracey Higley (from the historical and writing style perspective only – The Secret History had mild sex and violence), Michelle Moran, Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, and Sophie Perinot, Thornton is bound to please with this well-executed tale that contains it all: drama, intrigue, love, loss, power, betrayal, miracles, and overcoming odds. Thornton gives us an exceptional glimpse into Theodora, a story that for some time had been hidden in the history books. Another strong and defining woman will not be forgotten in this amazing fictional biography. I won’t soon forget any of the characters in her novel, as I felt so connected. I was terribly sad to have this story end. I had also fallen in love with the amazing spirit of Theodora.

Thornton did a tremendous job showcasing Theodora as a woman as powerful as someone like Cleopatra, and that she should be added to the list of major women influencers in history.  She also did a superb job with the history of the Byzantine Empire, giving us a peek into how it was set to flourish had it not been for the Bubonic Plague almost eradicating the area.

This book is a MUST READ for lovers of historical fiction who like to read about various women in history who wielded great power. Once you get the novel, you won’t be able to put it down as it will usher you into another era and hold you captive in Theodora’s aura.

This one is definitely going on my Top Five historical books list for 2013! Grab this great summer release!

Come back on July 12 for an interview and giveaway with Stephanie Thornton!

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora, Synopsis~

The Secret HistoryPublication Date: July 2, 2013

NAL Trade
Paperback; 448p
ISBN-10: 045141778XWhere Theodora went, trouble followed…In sixth century Constantinople, one woman, Theodora, defied every convention and all the odds, and rose from being a common theater tart to become empress of a great kingdom, the most powerful woman the Roman Empire would ever know. But the woman whose image was later immortalized in glittering mosaic was, in fact, a scrappy, clever, conniving, flesh-and-blood woman full of sensuality and spirit whose real story is as surprising as any ever told…When her father dies suddenly, Theodora and her sisters face starvation on the streets. Determined to survive, Theodora makes a living any way she can—first on her back with every man who will have her, then on the stage of the city’s infamous amphitheater in a scandalous dramatization of her own invention. When her daring performance grants her a back-door entry into the halls of power, she seizes the chance to win a wealthy protector—only to face heartbreak and betrayal.

Ever resilient, Theodora rises above such trials and by a twist of fate, meets her most passionate admirer yet: the Emperor’s nephew. She will thrive as his confidant and courtesan, but many challenges lie ahead. For one day, this man will hand her a crown. And all the empire will wonder—is she bold enough, shrewd enough, and strong enough to keep it?

Praise for The Secret History

“Stephanie Thornton’s Theodora is tough and intelligent, spitting defiance against the cruel world of the Byzantine Empire. Her rise from street urchin to emperor’s consort made me want to stand up and cheer. Her later years as empress are great fun to read, but it was her early struggle as actress and courtesan that really had me roaring: either with rage at the misfortunes heaped on this poor girl, or with delight as she once more picked herself up with a steely glint in her eye and kept on going.”—Kate Quinn, author of Empress of the Seven Hills

“Loss, ambition and lust keep this rich story moving at top speed. Stephanie Thornton writes a remarkable first novel that brings a little known woman to full, vibrant life…A sprawling and irresistible story.”—Jeane Westin, author of The Spymaster’s Daughter

“A fascinating and vivid account; in The Secret History, the life of Empress Theodora leaps from the page, as colorful and complex as the woman herself.”—Michelle Diener, author of The Emperor’s Conspiracy

Stephanie ThorntonAuthor Stephanie Thornton, Biography~

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.

For more information, please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thesecrethistoryvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SecretHistoryTour

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