Thursday, October 20, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — Small Eden by Jane Davis #HistoricalFiction #TheCoffeePotBookClub #BlogTour @janedavisauthor @cathiedunn

You have to check out Jane Davis' new book, Small Eden. Thank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this tour.

Small Eden
By Jane Davis

A boy with his head in the clouds. A man with a head full of dreams.  


The symptoms of scarlet fever are easily mistaken for teething, as Robert Cooke and his pregnant wife Freya discover at the cost of their two infant sons. Freya immediately isolates for the safety of their unborn child. Cut off from each other, there is no opportunity for husband and wife to teach each other the language of their loss. By the time they meet again, the subject is taboo. But unspoken grief is a dangerous enemy. It bides its time.

A decade later and now a successful businessman, Robert decides to create a pleasure garden in memory of his sons, in the very same place he found refuge as a boy – a disused chalk quarry in Surrey’s Carshalton. But instead of sharing his vision with his wife, he widens the gulf between them by keeping her in the dark. It is another woman who translates his dreams. An obscure yet talented artist called Florence Hoddy, who lives alone with her unmarried brother, painting only what she sees from her window… 

Doesn't this book sounds utterly amazing?! If you would like to grab your copy click HERE and it will take you to your favourite online bookstore!

Jane Davis

Hailed by The Bookseller as ‘One to Watch’, Jane Davis writes thought-provoking literary page turners.

She spent her twenties and the first half of her thirties chasing promotions in the business world but, frustrated by the lack of a creative outlet, she turned to writing.

Her first novel, 'Half-Truths and White Lies', won a national award established with the aim of finding the next Joanne Harris. Further recognition followed in 2016 with 'An Unknown Woman' being named Self-Published Book of the Year by Writing Magazine/the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust, as well as being shortlisted in the IAN Awards, and in 2019 with 'Smash all the Windows' winning the inaugural Selfies Book Award. Her novel, 'At the Stroke of Nine O’Clock' was featured by The Lady Magazine as one of their favourite books set in the 1950s, selected as a Historical Novel Society Editor's Choice, and shortlisted for the Selfies Book Awards 2021.

Interested in how people behave under pressure, Jane introduces her characters when they are in highly volatile situations and then, in her words, she throws them to the lions. The themes she explores are diverse, ranging from pioneering female photographers, to relatives seeking justice for the victims of a fictional disaster.

Jane Davis lives in Carshalton, Surrey, in what was originally the ticket office for a Victorian pleasure gardens, known locally as ‘the gingerbread house’. Her house frequently features in her fiction. In fact, she burnt it to the ground in the opening chapter of 'An Unknown Woman'. In her latest release, Small Eden, she asks the question why one man would choose to open a pleasure gardens at a time when so many others were facing bankruptcy?

When she isn’t writing, you may spot Jane disappearing up the side of a mountain with a camera in hand.

Social Media Links:


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — The Godmother’s Secret by Elizabeth St.John #BookReview #HistoricalFiction @ElizStJohn @cathiedunn

Scroll down to read my 5 STAR review of The Godmother’s Secret by Elizabeth St.John. Thank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this tour.

The Godmother’s Secret
By Elizabeth St.John

What if you knew what happened to the Princes in the Tower. Would you tell? Or would you forever keep the secret?

November, 1470: Westminster Abbey. 

Lady Elysabeth Scrope faces a perilous royal duty when ordered into sanctuary with Elizabeth Woodville–witness the birth of Edward IV’s Yorkist son. Margaret Beaufort, Elysabeth’s sister, is desperately seeking a pardon for her exiled son Henry Tudor. Strategically, she coerces Lancastrian Elysabeth to be appointed godmother to Prince Edward, embedding her in the heart of the Plantagenets and uniting them in a destiny of impossible choices and heartbreaking conflict.

Bound by blood and torn by honour, when the king dies and Elysabeth delivers her young godson into the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation, she is engulfed in political turmoil. Within months, the prince and his brother have disappeared, Richard III is declared king, and Margaret conspires with Henry Tudor to invade England and claim the throne. Desperate to protect her godson, Elysabeth battles the intrigue, betrayal and power of the last medieval court, defying her husband and her sister under her godmother’s sacred oath to keep Prince Edward safe.

Were the princes murdered by their uncle, Richard III? Was the rebel Duke of Buckingham to blame? Or did Margaret Beaufort mastermind their disappearance to usher in the Tudor dynasty? Of anyone at the royal court, Elysabeth has the most to lose–and the most to gain–by keeping secret the fate of the Princes in the Tower.   
Inspired by England’s most enduring historical mystery, Elizabeth St.John, best-selling author of The Lydiard Chronicles, blends her own family history with known facts and centuries of speculation to create an intriguing alternative story illuminating the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. 

Hold on to your hats because Elizabeth St.John is going to take you back in time and throw you headlong into one of England's most talked about historical mysteries. Yes, that is right, the author is taking us back to the 15th Century to discover what really happened to the Princes in the Tower. 

You know what really fascinated me about this book is that the story is told from a woman's point of view, a woman that is kin to the author herself - how cool is that? It is strange that only recently people have begun to take interest in the women of this era, although Lady Margaret Beaufort may be a name one would recognise if discussing this era, but as for those who were also in the thick of it, they seem to be lost to history. So, it was really refreshing to read a book from the point of view of one of the ladies that were there, that would have been a part of it, and her position as Godmother made sure of that.

I am trying to think of an author who writes in a similar style, and all I can think of is Philippa Gregory, but this book is more honest with the historical detailing, Elizabeth St.John does not make villains for the sake of a good story, nor does she make saints. There are a lot of flawed characters in this book, which made the story really realistic. Considering the topic it is, at times, a highly emotional read, let's not forget about those two frightened little boys who were ripped away from the safety of their family - if only Edward IV had not died when he did. 

Although this book is an alternative history, it does not read like one, and I would love to think that the conclusion of this book was the conclusion of what really happened, because the thought of those two boys being secretly murdered is just too horrible to even imagine.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book. It ticked all of the boxes and then some. 

If you would like to grab yourself a copy of this book then head over to Amazon. And check this out, it is free to read if you have #KindleUnlimited subscription. So what are you waiting for? This book isn't going to read itself!

Elizabeth St.John

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian, and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them— in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story.
Having spent a significant part of her life with her seventeenth-century family while writing The Lydiard Chronicles trilogy and Counterpoint series, Elizabeth St.John is now discovering new family stories with her fifteenth-century namesake Elysabeth St.John Scrope, and her half-sister, Margaret Beaufort.

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Thursday, October 13, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — The Conjuror’s Apprentice (The Tudor Rose, Book 1) by G.J. Williams #Excerpt #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub @GJWilliams92 @maryanneyarde

You have to check out this excerpt from The Conjuror’s Apprentice (The Tudor Rose, Book 1) by  G.J. Williams. Thank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this tour.

The Conjuror’s Apprentice 
(The Tudor Rose, Book 1)
By  G.J. Williams

Born with the ability to hear thoughts and feelings when there is no sound, Margaretta Morgan’s strange gift sees her apprenticed to Doctor John Dee, mathematician, astronomer, and alchemist. Using her secret link with the hidden side and her master’s brilliance, Margaretta faces her first murder mystery. Margaretta and Dee must uncover the evil bound to unravel the court of Bloody Mary. 

The year is 1555. This is a time ruled by fear. What secrets await to be pulled from the water?

The Conjuror’s Apprentice takes real people and true events in 1555, into which G J Williams weaves a tale of murder and intrigue. Appealing to readers of crime and well researched historical fiction alike, this is the first in a series which will follow the life, times, plots and murders of the Tudor Court.

Trigger warnings:
Descriptions of bodies and the injuries that brought about their death. 
Threat of torture; description of man who has been tortured.

Dawn broke on a new June day. Margaretta must have looked terrible. Even Mam offered to stir a pot and Huw kept stepping from foot to foot and looking at her face with concern. Katherine Constable was in her sitting room, picking at an embroidery, tutting at her mistakes. Her face fell when she saw Margaretta’s expression.

‘What has happened? You look so tired.’

‘They have given orders to torture Doctor Dee.’

Katherine gave a sharp cry and dropped her linen, the needle making a tiny rattle on the wooden floor. ‘For why?’

‘Because torture makes men speak of what they have not done and don’t know, mistress. They are trying to make him confess to a falsity.’

Katherine’s hand went to her ample bosom. ‘What can we do?’ Then she looked alarmed. ‘Without my husband knowing.’

‘I’ll go to the Tower.’

Katherine gasped and clasped her hands to her throat. ‘But it is a terrible place. They say you never come out alive.’

‘That’s not true. Merchants come and go every day. So do men of court. Anyway, I have to help the doctor.’

Katherine gulped. ‘Do you need more money?’

‘Yes…and a petticoat onto which I can sew a secret pocket  to put under my sister’s dress.’

At the Tower, the guard stared at his ledger. ‘I have no note that visitors are to be admitted.’

‘But Lord Englefield told me to attend to cousin John and bring him to his senses.’ She copied the voice of Lady Cecil – piety mixed with unquestioned confidence. ‘Are you suggesting I am to be turned away?’

My, what a difference a dress makes. If I were here in my kitchen brown, you would be kicking my backside out of your door with a stream of abuse to carry me further. But a bit of blue silk, a Spanish hood and a purse of coin, helped by a confident tongue and you are flustering like a chicken facing a fox.

‘Er, no. Your name please, my lady?’ The guard scratched at his chin, still staring at his ledger.

‘As I said. Cousin to Doctor John Dee.’ She tapped her toe to show impatience. ‘How many times do we need to go around this circus ring?’

It worked. The gates were opened with a terrible clang of bars being raised. A man was called. ‘Take the lady to prisoner nought nought seven. He’s in the Salt Tower.’ They walked along the cobble path towards the tower, rising grey and terrifying into the blue sky. Above them, soldiers walked the battlements, pikes ready to pierce any escapee. She was walked through a dark door and into a small round room with arched slit windows. The man muttered his apologies for the rank smell. ‘It’s always bad in summer, lady. I think the heat does make the stench of fear grow.’

She was led up spiral stairs of granite and waited, trembling as the man sorted through a ring of keys. The door was opened and the cell guard gestured her in. ‘We allow only half of an hour a visit, lady.’

Margaretta turned her eye on the man who was evidently an old soldier from the broken nose and scars across his face. He stank of wine and chicken fat. ‘I will require an hour. See Lord Englefield if you need confirmation.’ She almost laughed at the voice she used.

But amusement lasted only a second as he snarled back: ‘I don’t give a rat’s arse if Jesus Christ sent you, lady. You have only half of an hour.’

The cell was dark and dank. One candle burned on a small table in the middle of the cell, casting a low light. Canvas was hanging over the slit windows, blotting out the light of day. An acrid, musty smell rose from the floor. Rats. John Dee was at the far side of the room, on a low cot bed. As she approached, Margaretta could smell mould from the paltry hay mattress.   A cough from behind made her spin round. There was a crouched figure on the floor, face in the shadows. ‘I apologise if I frightened you,’ came a croaked voice.

She looked back to John Dee, who pointed at the man across the cell. ‘This is Barthelet Green. Detained for heresy. It appears they group prisoners by accusation.’ He shook his head. ‘Cannot stand because of what they have done to him.’

Margaretta walked towards the man in the corner, picking up the candle. As she approached her stomach lurched. He was broken. Arms hung loose and the legs protruded out at a strange angle. He just about managed to raise his head from a body slumped against the damp wall. He gave a wan smile.

‘What did they do to you, sir?’ 

‘The rack, child.’

As he tried to raise his hand, the door crashed open and the guard shouted, ‘Calling Barthelet Green for interrogation.’ Then a sneering laugh. ‘It’s the scavenger’s daughter today, heretic. Your eyes and ears will be bleeding in an hour.’

The man moaned. More the moan of a tortured animal than a man, followed by the sound and smell of his bladder giving way in panic. Margaretta turned away to hide her horror. Two men hauled him upright, ignoring the scream. One complained that he would be soaked and then they started to drag their prey towards the door. Another scream and the door slammed shut.

In the other corner, John Dee began to cry. ‘What if they do the same to me?’

‘Come now, doctor, there is no time for weeping.’ Margaretta pulled his shoulders up and looked straight into his eyes. ‘We have to work quickly. Only half an hour.’

She turned away and pulled up her skirts. From Katherine’s pocketed petticoat she pulled the crystals and the cards. ‘Here. Now let us seek answers.’

With trembling hands, Dee pointed to the candle. ‘We will need that.’ Then he placed the crystals on the floor, putting the candle between them. Slowly, he opened the box of cards and muttered a prayer in the old language, their language, and raised his eyes to the ceiling as if imploring God, or maybe the gods, to come and give answers. With a deep breath he spread the cards in a wide arc, the picture sides down. ‘Tell me of my enemies,’ he rasped, and started to select the cards.

One by one he pulled them from the arc, picture side up, until he had created a cross. When five were chosen, he groaned. ‘God help us.’

‘What do they tell you, doctor?’

He pointed to the central card. It depicted a young man, a magician, conjuring with arms open, a double halo above his head, vines growing at his feet, and a wary smile on his face. ‘This is me. It is the card of looking forward, new beginnings, and most of all, hoping for a miracle.’

He moved to the card to the left. The high priestess. ‘She has the scythe at her feet, pomegranates at her head, the cross of faith at her heart, the tora in her hands. She understands everything and nothing. Intuition and always seeing.’ He looked up at Margaretta. ‘This is you.’

‘But that card on the other side of you? The devil?’

John Dee made a little whimper, then controlled himself and straightened his back. ‘This means entrapment, others having the upper hand, bad faith and bad speaking against truth. Intended evil.’ Dee sighed. ‘This is the current condition.’

‘So, look to the card below. What is that?’

John Dee traced down. ‘The emperor again. A man bent on power. Whoever this depicts is the centre of this.’ He tapped the sheep heads on the throne. ‘Yellow wool.’

‘And the lowest card.’

‘The hermit. It supports the other cards. This is the keystone in the cross. He is the hidden man, only half seen. He shines a light and yet you cannot see his face. This card often means the final stage of an endeavour.’ John Dee swayed back and looked to Margaretta. ‘The other name for this card is the shepherd and he is the root and foundation of this mess.’

Margaretta started to pace. ‘The turn-face shepherd again.’ She stopped. ‘I need to go back to Southwark and find that face.’

John Dee was about to answer when footsteps came from the stairs. Margaretta grabbed the cards and crystal and secreted them in her petticoat just as the door crashed open and the guard yelled, ‘Time up!’

She nodded and turned to leave, hearing Dee’s whisper of, ‘Help me.’

Doesn't this book sounds amazing?! You can pick up your copy over at AmazonWaterstones  and RedDoor

G.J. Williams

After a career as a business psychologist for city firms, G.J. Williams has returned to her first passion – writing tales of murder, mystery and intrigue. Her psychology background melded with a love of medieval history, draws her to the twists and turns of the human mind, subconscious powers and the dark-side of people who want too much. 

She lives between Somerset and London in the UK and is regularly found writing on a train next to a grumpy cat and a bucket of tea.

Social Media Links:
Twitter, Instagram - @GJWilliams92

Thursday, October 6, 2022

#BookReview - Brushstrokes from the Past Brushstrokes from the Past (Soli Hansen Mysteries) by Heidi Eljarbo #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @HeidiEljarbo @cathiedunn

I love this book so much! Scroll down to check out my review of Brushstrokes from the Past
(Soli Hansen Mysteries) by Heidi Eljarbo. Thank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this

Brushstrokes from the Past
(Soli Hansen Mysteries)
By Heidi Eljarbo

WWII and the mid-seventeenth century are entwined in this fourth dual timeline novel about Nazi art theft, bravery, friendship, and romance.

April 1945. Art historian Soli Hansen and her friend Heddy arrive at an excavation site only to find Soli’s old archeology professor deeply engrossed in an extraordinary find in a marsh. The remains of a man have lain undisturbed for three centuries, but there’s more to this discovery…

As Soli tries to understand who the baroque man was and discovers what he carried in a sealed wooden tube, problems arise. A leak reveals the finds to the notorious Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Walter, and soon, both Nazi elite and the Gestapo are after the treasure.

When Heddy and the professor disappear along with the artwork, Soli and her resistance group must find them before it’s too late.

1641. In Amsterdam, French musketeer Claude Beaulieu has had his portrait done by his close friend and artist Rembrandt van Rijn. When a band of thieves steal the precious painting, Claude and his wife Annarosa Ruber pick up their swords and a few belongings and go after the culprits.

Set in Norway during the tumultuous last days of the second world war, as well as the peak of the glorious baroque art period, these two stories are a must for readers who love historical fiction with adventure, suspense, and true love that conquers all.

Oh, my giddy aunt. I was so excited to get my hands on the final book of the Soli Hansen Mysteries series, so much in fact that as soon as the ARC landed in my inbox, I put the kettle on, made myself a nice cuppa of Earl Grey (maybe not Early Grey, I'm not that posh) and started to read. 

It was so good to be back with Soli and her band of Resistance brothers and sisters as they once again have a painting to hide and a mystery to solve.

Once again the story centres around another one of the Ruber's (a Jewish family who were deported to goodness knows where) and their vast painting collection. Nazi treasure hunter, Heinz Walter, is after a Rembrandt painting that belonged to the Rubers and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on it - the vile man that he is. 

The story is deeply moving for the author gives her readers not only front row tickets to watch how the Resistance deals with the latest threat, but she also tells the story of the Ruber family and the history of the painting. 

I really loved this book because there is just no let-up in the story. The story is just so darn good that I sincerely loved every minute of it.

This book is absolutely amazing, you just have to read it. You can find it over on Amazon And get this, you can read for free if you have #KindleUnlimited subscription! 

Heidi Eljarbo

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don't want to go near.

Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.

After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.

Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.

Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

Social Media Links:

WebsiteTwitter,  FacebookLinkedInInstagramInstagram author pagePinterestBookBubAmazon Author Page


Tour Schedule

Sunday, October 2, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — Fortunate Son by Thomas Tibor #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub @thomastibor57 @maryanneyarde @cathiedunn

 You have to check out this excerpt from Fortunate Son by Thomas Tibor. Thank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this tour.

A powerful, evocative novel that transports the reader to a tense period in America, Fortunate Son is set on a southern college campus during the turbulent spring of 1970. Reed Lawson, an ROTC cadet, struggles with the absence of his father, a Navy pilot who has been Missing in Action in Vietnam for three years.

While volunteering at a drug crisis center, Reed sets out to win the heart of a feminist co-worker who is grappling with a painful past, and to rescue a troubled teenage girl from self-destruction. In the process, he is forced to confront trauma’s tragic consequences and the fragile, tangled web of human connections.

Trigger warnings:

One aspect of this story dramatizes instances of self-harm and makes references to suicide.


Saturday, May 16, 1970

On the night Annabel decided to drown herself, Reed Lawson was drunk. Not falling-down, but close enough. He stumbled out of the packed Rathskeller Bar well past nine o’clock. The smell of stale beer and cigarettes and the pounding of the Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler” bled into the warm Florida night. The bar had advertised LSD—Large Size Drafts—for twenty-five cents, a clever hook to lure in more business.

Reed checked his watch—the same model worn by his father, Commander Frank Lawson, U.S. Navy. Dumbass. An hour late for his shift, which never happened. On time for Reed always meant fifteen minutes early.

He shuffled through the crowded parking lot searching for his car, past students and locals drinking beer, slouching against fenders, passing joints amid the shadows. Then he remembered he’d parked around the corner.

Ten minutes later the Mustang rumbled to the curb in front of a brick bungalow, and Reed stumbled out. Twenty years old, he had a lean, muscled frame that suggested rigid self-discipline. But tonight his swarthy, olive complexion was pale, black hair unkempt, deep-set brown eyes glazed over, Levi’s wrinkled and T-shirt slept in.

Waves of nausea washed over him. Gagging, he was sure he’d vomit. Should’ve eaten something to soak up the beer.

Down the street, the branches of live oaks arched over the sidewalk. A quick gust drove clumps of Spanish moss across the pavement. The university’s iconic Gothic buildings loomed a block ahead—the Florida Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Florida Tech.

Reed trudged through patches of weeds that passed for a lawn and onto a porch cluttered with a threadbare sofa, metal chairs, and overflowing ashtrays. A single yellow bulb illuminated a hand-painted sign on the door: Lifelines.

Just what he needed—another Saturday night shift, always the craziest of the week. No way out, though. Maybe two cups of their caffeinated mud would sober him up. With any luck, the call volume would be light.

Reed stepped inside. The hotline phones occupied the bungalow’s largest bedroom, with two desks, two chairs, and a bulletin board papered with warnings about drug side effects, emergency phone numbers, and guidance for handling calls.

Meg was on duty, earnest and professional as usual in sensible shoes, ironed slacks, and a buttoned-up blouse. Her robin’s-egg-blue eyes widened in shock at his drunken, disheveled appearance.

Reed collapsed into the empty chair and mumbled, “Sorry I’m late.”

Meg flicked auburn bangs from a freckled forehead. “Called your dorm earlier. You just missed Annabel.”

His stomach knotted with dread. “What did she want?”

“I tried to find out, but she would only talk to you. Seemed super freaked out. After she split, I called her mom. Turns out Annabel left the house after lunch and hasn’t been back since. Also, her mom found joints and Quaaludes in her room.”

Shit. Annabel’s favorite drug cocktail.

“Sorry,” Meg said. “I begged her to stick around.”

“Not your fault. Any coffee left?”

“Got a fresh pot brewing.”

In the kitchen, every cup was coffee stained. Reed scrubbed and filled one. He listened to the murmur of conversation from the adjacent bedroom—a volunteer talking somebody down from a bad trip. He was way too wiped to deal with anything tonight. Not Annabel, not a tidal wave of callers.

Stepping back into the hotline room, he asked, “Sure she said nothing else?”

“Well, I followed her outside to stall her, but she was in a big hurry. Said something about the river.”

“The river? That’s it?” Annabel must have meant the Black River, where they’d spent so much time together. Reed slammed the coffee mug on the desk, scalding his wrist with the overflow, and raced outside.

Moments later the Mustang roared to life, and Reed barreled onto Broad Street—the city’s main east-west artery—and weaved through stop-and-go traffic. He barely noticed the crowd waiting for a table at Rossetti’s Pizza, the gaggle of students watching dryers spin inside Groomers Laundromat, or the usual stoners lingering outside the Second Genesis head shop.

At the first red light, his left hand trembled on the steering wheel as his right massaged the gearshift. A sobering breeze swept in. He rolled the window farther down to invite more cool air, then smacked the wheel. Should have seen it coming. The signs were there, clear as day. When she’d most needed a friend, he’d let her down, pushed her away to wallow in his own despair.

The light was taking forever to change. Screw it. Reed stomped on the gas and roared through the intersection. Horns blared. Oncoming traffic skidded to avoid a collision. He blew through two more red lights before swerving onto the highway that led out of town.

More alert now and pushing the eager V-8 to ninety miles an hour, Reed peered into the rearview mirror every few seconds, expecting to see flashing red lights. Cookie-cutter suburban houses soon gave way to open farmland. The road narrowed to two lanes lined by a thick forest of southern pines.

On a curve, driving as fast as he dared, Reed roared past a truck, then cut off two denim-and-leather-clad bikers astride chopped Harleys. One lifted a middle finger in salute.

After five more miles that felt to Reed like fifty, the Mustang skidded into a dirt parking lot at the river. He pulled alongside a dusty green Chevy, jumped out, and ran to the shore. Familiar bell-bottoms and sandals lay strewn on a thin strip of sand.


He scanned the fast-moving current, illuminated only by pale flecks of moonlight slicing through heavy cloud cover. Gnarled branches of cypress and mangrove dangled over the river. Darkened by tannins from decaying vegetation, the tea-colored water gave the Black River its name. If she’d gone in, it would have been here.


A cacophony of tree frogs and crickets answered him. What if she already lay at the bottom or had drifted downstream? Heart pounding, he spotted a glimmer of movement in the middle of the river. Annabel? Driftwood? Or just a ripple on the surface?

Ripping off his sneakers, he waded into the inky river, the muddy bottom sucking at his feet. Though a confident pool swimmer, Reed was nervous in water where he couldn’t see the bottom. Shaky, he labored with clumsy strokes to the middle before pausing to tread water.


A crane screeched. A stiff breeze quickened the current. Reed imagined water moccasins stirring beneath him, gators paddling in from the riverbank.


A memory surfaced from high school English class—beautiful but forsaken Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet plunging from a willow tree to her watery death. If he was too late and her slender body lay somewhere beneath the surface—skin ivory, lips blue, raven hair fanned out—he had only himself to blame.

Doesn't this book sound amazing?! You can grab your copy of this book at Amazon. And get this, it is free to read with #Kindleunlimited  So, what are you waiting for?!Go on, treat yourself!

Thomas Tibor

A veteran writer and video producer, Thomas Tibor has helped develop training courses focusing on mental health topics. In an earlier life, he worked as a counselor in the psychiatric ward of two big-city hospitals. He grew up in Florida and now lives in Northern Virginia. Fortunate Son is his first novel.

Social Media Links: WebsiteTwitterLinkedInInstagram (thomastibor2), Amazon Author PageGoodreads 

Tour Schedule

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — JULIA PRIMA by Alison Morton #excerpt #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour @alison_morton @cathiedunn

You have to check out this excerpt from JULIA PRIMA by Alison Morton. Thank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this tour.


By Alison Morton

“You should have trusted me. You should have given me a choice.”

AD 370, Roman frontier province of Noricum. Neither wholly married nor wholly divorced, Julia Bacausa is trapped in the power struggle between the Christian church and her pagan ruler father. 

Tribune Lucius Apulius’s career is blighted by his determination to stay faithful to the Roman gods in a Christian empire. Stripped of his command in Britannia, he’s demoted to the backwater of Noricum – and encounters Julia.

Unwittingly, he takes her for a whore. When confronted by who she is, he is overcome with remorse and fear. Despite this disaster, Julia and Lucius are drawn to one another by an irresistible attraction.

But their intensifying bond is broken when Lucius is banished to Rome. Distraught, Julia gambles everything to join him. But a vengeful presence from the past overshadows her perilous journey. Following her heart’s desire brings danger she could never have envisaged…

Asella, Julia’s body servant, and Julia herself reminisce about Julia’s mother and father.

‘I did not mean to be disrespectful to your father, domina. Prince Bacausus is a good man who treated my mistress well.’ Asella’s eyes softened. She’d accompanied my mother when she’d left her tribe to marry the young warrior prince my father had been. Father had been fighting against the tribes raiding across the Danuvius as part of the Legio II Italica based at Lauriacum. He’d led his men across the river into tribal territory and captured the local chieftain himself.
Asella said he’d stood as proud as the Christians’ Lucifer and demanded the chieftain’s surrender. If he gave himself up, the tribespeople would be spared. Given the overwhelming number of Romans armed to the hilt, the chieftain acquiesced and was led away as a captive. Then my father saw the chieftain’s daughter, Suria, defiant and trembling with rage at her father’s fate. Asella said sourly that he might have won the fight against the father, but it was at that moment he surrendered to the daughter. He said she had to be part of the surrender bargain and held out his hand. The daughter – who would become my mother – had stared at him long and hard, but stepped forward. She knew her refusal would mean disaster for the tribe. Asella told me that my mother had gone very willingly and had never regretted her decision, but she became homesick from time to time and would ride all the way up to the Danuvius River and watch across it for hours. 
I remember Asella nursing my mother when she was dying. The medicus from the military camp had given her poppy seed draught to relieve the pain but shook his head when my father raised his eyebrow in question. I watched my father’s shoulders slump as he turned and trudged back to his tablinum and drew the curtain across to forbid any possible visitors.
 Asella’s cousin had appeared at our door the next day without warning. Her face looked like any other tribeswoman’s, but she wore a boldly patterned dress with bells and fringes at the edges of an overtunic. The fibula holding her cloak at the shoulder was silver, but with fantastic and frightening animal shapes and the gold torc round her neck the most intricately twisted that I’d ever seen. Her belt looked like metal skulls linked together and a pouch hung from it on the right side. The most normal thing was her hair, dark and gathered at the back with ring-headed pins sticking out. She fixed me with dark grey eyes buried deep in her face. I felt she was reading my soul, then she ignored me as she greeted Asella who bowed to her and called her Talusia. They’d disappeared down the corridor together towards my mother’s room, leaving me alone, feeling a mere bystander. 
Only when my father threatened to slice the cousin in half if he wasn’t permitted to see his wife did she let him, and me, into my mother’s room. Her poor face, so thin, her skin stretched across her cheekbones. I had fallen to my knees by her bed, ignoring the herbal smells from the brazier, the tribeswoman crooning and the other people in the room, and I took her hand. Warm tears ran down my face. I was supposed to be an adult at sixteen, but at that moment I was a tiny child desperate for her mother to never leave her. She turned her head slowly and looked at me.
‘Julia,’ she’d said softly. This thin croak wasn’t her voice. Hers should be assured, positive and warm. But it was her hand, even though it felt like skin with only bones and sinews underneath. ‘I’m so sorry to leave you. I wanted to see you with a good man and strong children.’ Her fingers curled round mine as if she tried to grip them, but her touch had no strength. 
‘Matir,’ I said, my throat parched. ‘Don’t tire yourself.’
‘My Julia, listen. When you find a man who pleases you, marry him in the way of my people. And please your father and marry as the Romans, but not as their new god.’ Her eyes glowed for a moment. ‘Promise me!’
‘I promise, but—’
Her eyes fluttered as she searched my face. 
‘I hope I have been a good mother to you,’ she whispered, then sighed and looked up at the ceiling. After a minute she turned back to me. ‘Now, farewell. Let me speak to your father. He is a noble and courageous man, and kind. Honour him.’
The last sight I had of my mother alive was of my father kissing her mouth in the Roman way to take her breath, her essence, into him. Then he’d stroked her forehead and run his fingers over her eyes to close them. 

Doesn't this book sound absolutely amazing?! If you fancy finding out what happens next then head over to Amazon. If Amazon is not your store of choice, you can also find it at Barnes and Noble, Waterstones (my favourite bookshops!), Kobo, and Apple. What are you waiting for? Go, grab your copy today!

Alison Morton

Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her nine-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the ancient Roman Empire has survived into the 21st century and is ruled by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache but with a sharp line in dialogue. 

She blends her fascination for Ancient Rome with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.  

Alison now lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her latest two contemporary thrillers, Double Identity and Double Pursuit. Oh, and she’s writing the next Roma Nova story.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland #HistoricalFiction #TheCoffeePotBookClub #BlogTour @cathiedunn

 You have to check out this excerpt from The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin NewlandThank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this tour.

The Old Dragon’s Head
By Justin Newland

The Great Wall of China may be constructed of stone and packed earth, but it is home to a supernatural beast – the Old Dragon. Both wall and dragon protect China’s northern borders from Mongol incursion. Just beyond the fortress of Shanhaiguan, the far eastern end of the wall protrudes into the Bohai Sea – that’s the Old Dragon’s Head.
Bolin, a young man working on the Old Dragon’s Head, suffers visions of ghosts. The local seer suspects that he has yin-yang eyes and other supernatural gifts. Bolin’s fief lord, the Prince of Yan, rebels against his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor. In the bitter war of succession, the Mongols hold the balance of power. While the victor might win the battle on earth, China’s Dragon Throne can only be earned with a Mandate from Heaven – and the support of the Old Dragon.
In every era, a man endowed with the powers of heaven – the Dragon Master – is born. Only he can summon the Old Dragon, providing he possesses the dragon pearl. It’s the year 1402, and neither the Old Dragon, the dragon pearl, nor the Dragon Master, has been seen for twenty years.  
Bolin’s journey of self-discovery is mirrored by that of old China, as both endeavour to come of age. When Bolin accepts his destiny as the Dragon Master, heaven sends a third coming of age – for humanity itself. But are any of them ready for what is rising in the east? 

Luli’s Po Office was across the road from his house on Fuyuan Street. Healer, seer and geomancer, her intercession on the Laolongtou, when she had prevented them from harming the gulls, reminded him of just how high her reputation was in these parts. 

He found himself walking across Fuyuan Street. What was he doing? Was he really going to seek her help? A magpie hopped along her threshold and then flew off, pursued by his mate. A pair of black and white birds: that was a good sign. He fingered his yin-yang coin charm; the black side with a white dot in the middle and a white side with a black dot in the middle. Yin and yang. The Tao had spoken to him. The magpies were a good omen: he was on the right path. 

Luli opened the door, bowed and showed him in. The last time he’d entered her Po Office was when, as a youngster, he had played with Ru. Despite that, the familiar fresh smell of camphor wood wafted over him. Boxes and scrolls in one corner, crates in another, the shop was more or less as he remembered it. The pawned items were neatly labelled in small pigeonholes towards the back of the store. The room emanated a mysterious serenity, a sense of everything in its place and a place for everything. Bolin liked that. In a world of tumult and upheaval, such order, any order, was a welcome restraint. 

“Master Bolin,” Luli said, wearing a long-sleeved turquoise gown. “You’ve come. What can I do for you?”

Was she expecting him? She had the foresight of yin-yang eyes, so perhaps she was. “Please, I need your help,” he muttered. 

“Go on,” Luli replied. 

 “I’m frightened, Luli. It started with headaches, then strange dreams. Now I’m seeing and hearing strange things,” he admitted. There, he already felt better. 

“What kind of things?”
“Dream visions, terrible things, they are so real, I wake up in a cold sweat. And there’s a hand clasped around my throat. I hear a man’s voice.”

“What does he say?”

“Phrases like ‘release me’ and ‘help me.’ I was convinced there was a demon inside me. Dong tried to exorcise it, but when it didn’t work, he told me I wasn’t possessed.”

“Did he?” Luli said, pacing the floor like a tigress. “I think I know what is happening to you.” 

“You do? What is it? Tell me,” he blurted out. 

“Can you show me your birthmark?” Luli asked. 

“What? Why? I don’t understand.” 
“You know I am the custodian of gifts and bequests left by my deceased customers – the soul donors. Some leave letters for their soul receiver. I’ve an inkling one of them is for you.” 

“What’s that to do with my birthmark?” he asked, unmasking his exasperation.

“Please,” she replied. “Bear with me.” 

“All right, it’s here,” he said, standing and lifting the lower part of his robe. “There, that squidgy mark above my right ankle.”

“Hah! See! It looks like a reptile; a salamander, possibly a dragon. Let me see if I have a match to it,” Luli said, searching the rows of boxes.

“A match? What are you talking about?”

“I’m the keeper of the Po Office, the house of restless souls,” she said, as her hands moved with swift dexterity along the rows of boxes and packets. “When a person dies, their Po or soul leaves their body and searches for another body to enter – the body of a baby about to be born. Along with the soul, the birthmark of the deceased also transfers to the newborn. It’s the distinguishing mark, the link between the two people, the soul donor and the soul receiver. When the soul donor leaves a gift or envelope for me to pass on to their soul receiver, they draw two things on it: the shape of their birthmark and where it appears on their person.”

“Fascinating,” he said. Dong had told him of the Taoist belief in the transmigration of souls. But to actually read correspondence from the donor of his soul, that was extraordinary and the last thing he had expected from this visit.  

“Hah! Here it is!” Luli cried with an air of triumph and held up an envelope. “Yes. There’s a match, both in shape and position. This gives me immense satisfaction. I am a connection between two complete strangers whose lives overlapped simply because they shared the same soul and one of them is standing right in front of me. This letter is written by the hand of the person who donated their soul to you.”

“Are you sure?” He could barely believe it. The envelope she handed him felt like the most precious thing he’d ever received. In a way, it was. 

“Yes, I am,” Luli encouraged him. “And please, you can open it.” 

Hand shaking, he broke the wax seal. 

“Who is it from?” Luli asked.  

“How would I know that?” He shrugged. 

“Look on the inside of the envelope. The sender should have inscribed his name there.”

He looked. It was blank. 

“There’s no inscription.”
“Let me see,” Luli said, examining the envelope. “I always insist that the donor mark their name on the inside of the envelope. Oh dear, you’re right. There’s nothing. Only this note.”  

“Let me have it,” he insisted. Incredible, his soul donor had left him a note. His heart pounding with anticipation and he read:
Doesn't this book sound amazing?! If you would like to grab yourself a copy then head over to your favourite online bookstore - Here!

Justin Newland
JUSTIN NEWLAND is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His historical novels feature known events and real people from the past, which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural.
His novels speculate on the human condition and explore the fundamental questions of our existence. As a species, as Homo sapiens sapiens – that’s man the twice-wise – how are we doing so far? Where is mankind’s spiritual home? What does it look or feel like? Would we recognise it if we saw it?
Undeterred by the award of a Doctorate in Mathematics from Imperial College, London, he found his way to the creative keyboard and conceived his debut novel, The Genes of Isis (Matador, 2018), an epic fantasy set under Ancient Egyptian skies. 
Next came the supernatural thriller, The Old Dragon’s Head (Matador, 2018), set in Ming Dynasty China. 
His third novel, The Coronation (Matador, 2019), speculates on the genesis of the most important event of the modern world – the Industrial Revolution. 
His fourth, The Abdication (Matador, 2021), is a supernatural thriller in which a young woman confronts her faith in a higher purpose and what it means to abdicate that faith.
His stories add a touch of the supernatural to history and deal with the themes of war, religion, evolution and the human’s place in the universe.
He was born three days before the end of 1953 and lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.
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On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — Small Eden by Jane Davis #HistoricalFiction #TheCoffeePotBookClub #BlogTour @janedavisauthor @cathiedunn

You have to check out Jane Davis' new book, Small Eden. Thank you to  The Coffee Pot Book Club  for inviting me to be a part of this to...