Sunday, January 22, 2023

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club: The Flame Tree by Siobhan Daiko #HistoricalFiction #WomensFiction #BlogTour @siobhandaiko @cathiedunn




The Flame Tree
By Siobhan Daiko



In the spring of 1939, dashing young William Burton and the beautiful Constance Han set sail from London on the same ocean liner to Hong Kong.

Romance blossoms while they enjoy games of deck quoits and spend sultry tropical evenings dancing under the stars. Connie is intrigued by Will’s talent for writing poetry, and she offers to give him Cantonese lessons to help him with his new job—a cadet in the colonial service.

But once in Hong Kong, Connie is constrained by filial duty towards her Eurasian parents, and their wish for her to marry someone from her own background. She can't forget Will however and arranges to meet him in secret under the magnificent canopy of a flame of the forest tree—where she fulfils her promise to teach him to speak Chinese.

Before too long, trouble looms as Japanese forces gather on the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. Will joins a commando group tasked with operating behind enemy lines, and Connie becomes involved in the fight against local fifth columnists.

When war breaks out, they find themselves drawn into a wider conflict than their battle against prejudice. Can they survive and achieve a future together? Or do forces beyond their control keep them forever apart?

Based on a little-known true story, The Flame Tree is a tale of love and survival against all the odds.


Praise

"Siobhan Daiko will tug at your heartstrings, and leave you desperate for more..." 
 Ellie Yarde, The Coffee Pot Book Club

"Daiko is an author you’ll want to add to your historical fiction favourites." 
 Netgalley Reviewer


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Siobhan Daiko


Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. 

Siobhan was born of English parents in Hong Kong, attended boarding school in Australia, and then moved to the UK—where she taught modern foreign languages in a Welsh comprehensive school. She now spends her time writing page-turners and enjoying her life near Venice. 

Her novels are compelling, poignant, and deeply moving, with strong characters and evocative settings, but always with romance at their heart. You can find more about her books on her website www.siobhandaiko.org.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club: Caledon (Caledon, Book #1) by Virginia Crow #Interview #HistoricalFantasy @DaysDyingGlory @CrowvusLit @cathiedunn

 


"Go out and tell all those you meet, Caledon has risen. Caledon will be protected and defended. And to you who would cause her harm, be prepared. A new fight has come."

After the destruction of the Jacobite forces at Culloden, Scotland is divided, vulnerable and leaderless, with survivors from both sides seeking to make sense of the battles they have fought against their fellow Scots.

James Og flees Drumossie, seeking the protection of his uncle's house in Sutherland. It is here that James learns that the Northern Highlands hold a secret power only he can wield: Caledon. When Ensign John Mackay begins hunting Og's family, James realises he must harness this power to defeat the enemies of Scotland.

But, as the ageless Caledon awakes, so too does an ancient evil. When it allies with Mackay, the small Clan of Caledon faces enemies at every turn, discovering that even those closest to them may seek to destroy them.

Interview

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve been writing for many years, and I still have a very early story which involved a creature which was a strange hybrid with a pig, a bird, and a monkey. Not my finest work of literature, but I’m glad I’ve kept it! I’ve always been surrounded by books – my parents decided never to discard a book – and I suppose being surrounded by them, they seeped into my psyche!

The inspiration for Caledon came from a visit to The Big Burn in Golspie. I was feeling a little despondent that day but I found The Source there exactly as it runs in the book. It was an inspiration I had not been prepared for, but it is the one which will stick with me forever.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

When I wrote Caledon, I shared it with my sisters who are my primary readers, both of them commented on its ending.  Originally, the book ended after Part Six. I really liked the ambiguity of the ending, but both of them objected to it! The book is the first of six, so I pulled the storyline for the second book forward, introducing the next new character and going part of the way towards resolving the massive conflict which I had originally had as the book’s ending. This seemed to appease my readers!

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

I love writing an ensemble cast and, because I write from multiple points of view, I often find myself connecting with each one of them. It’s the only way I can keep my characters individual!
That said, I have a definite soft spot for Donald Mackenzie in Caledon. I really admire the way he continues to try to protect the people around him, but ultimately finds himself falling victim to his own loyalties. I appreciate that and love him for it.

If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

I actually began writing Caledon in the mould of a TV series, which is why it’s written in parts. But, despite that, I’m not sure who I’d cast. My one stipulation would be that there were no phoney Scottish accents – I’ve seen so many movies where I visibly recoil from the attempts at that one! I like to think that, because the six members of The Clan of Caledon are all slightly wet behind the ears, any attempt at casting would reflect this and give new talent the chance to shine.

What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

Primarily, I hope they enjoy it! It was written to be an adventure, and I want readers to be swept away on it. Writing fast-paced fiction is a little out of my comfort zone, as I tend to go for sumptuous language, but Caledon changed all that.
The other thing I hope readers will realise is that each one of us can make a difference. We live in uncertain times– though thankfully less bloodthirsty than the setting for Caledon – and each voice deserves to be heard. If Caledon inspires one person to speak out on beliefs which had previously remained buried, I would be a very happy author.

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Virginia Crow


Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together. She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book!

When she's not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John o' Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 4th year.

She now lives in the far-flung corner of Scotland. A doting spaniel-owner to Orlando and Jess, Virginia soaks up in inspiration from the landscape as she ventures out with her canine companions.

She loves cheese, music, and films, but hates mushrooms.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club: Pilot Who Knows the Waters (The Lord Hani Mysteries, Book 6) by N. L. Holmes @nlholmesbooks @cathiedunn

 


Hani must secretly obtain a Hittite bridegroom for Queen Meryet-amen, but Ay and the faction behind Prince Tut-ankh-aten are opposed--to the point of violence. Does the death of an artisan have anything to do with Ay’s determination to see his grandson on the throne? Then, another death brings Egypt to the brink of war… 

Hani’s diplomatic skills will be pushed to the limit in this final book in The Lord Hani Mysteries.


Interview

What inspired you to start writing?

A few years before my retirement, I was teaching a course called Ancient Near Eastern Empires. One of the assignments I gave to the students was to look at the (very few) documents we had related to a certain ancient divorce case, to evaluate them, and to describe for me what happened. It became pretty obvious that almost anything we could say was so speculative that it could almost be considered historical fiction, not historiography. So, as soon as I found myself retired, with no more papers to grade, I decided to turn the story into a novel!


What was the hardest part about writing this book?

This isn’t true of every book, but it happened that I had a big problem laying out the clues and facts in the right order. If certain facts were known too soon, it lessened the tension. Or if clues dropped too late, the reader had already figured it out. This timing is an issue with any novel, but especially with mysteries. I think the problem was that I had, as usual, written certain scenes out of order, just because I knew well how I wanted that scene to go—and then stitched them together later. And somehow, I had made the wrong choices about what went here. I had to do a major restructuring of my first draft.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

This is one of those series where there are lots of lovable characters. Hani is solid, loving, humorous, intelligent, and a man of principle—I wish I were such a person. Neferet is a young woman who doesn’t let the world tell her what she must do—a model for us all. She’s getting her own series soon. But as an older person, I think I like the complexity of Lord Ptah-mes. He’s chilly and formal on the outside, never shows what he feels or suffers, plays the rôle of a rich, always-in-control aristocrat, but is really a man of deep feeling and moral courage, despite his sense of insufficiency. I have especially liked the books where he plays a larger rôle. With him, what you see isn’t often as good as what you get.

If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

People ask this so often, and I’m utterly incompetent to answer! I have no television and rarely see movies. All the actors I know are too old now for the parts. But I can say this: except for the Hittites, they need to be people of color, whether light or dark. Hispanics, Arabs, Indians. How about real Egyptians?  It’s a shame Omar Sharif is dead. And of course, Maya is a dwarf. 


What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

If I have a goal, it would be to convince readers that the people of ancient cultures were human beings just like us. They may have had different langages and clothing and world views, but their emotional responses to life were deeply and utterly familiar.


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N. L. Holmes



N.L. Holmes is the pen name of a professional archaeologist who received her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. She has excavated in Greece and in Israel, and taught ancient history and humanities at the university level for many years. She has always had a passion for books, and in childhood, she and her cousin (also a writer today) used to write stories for fun. 

Today, she and her husband live in France with their chickens and cats, where she weaves, plays the violin, gardens, and dances.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club: The Fortune Keeper by Deborah Swift #Interview #HistoricalFiction @swiftstory @maryanneyarde




Count your nights by stars, not shadows ~ Italian Proverb

Winter in Renaissance Venice

Mia Caiozzi is determined to discover her destiny by studying the science of astronomy. But her stepmother Giulia forbids her to engage in this occupation, fearing it will lead her into danger. The ideas of Galileo are banned by the Inquisition, so Mia must study in secret.

Giulia's real name is Giulia Tofana, renowned for her poison Aqua Tofana, and she is in hiding from the Duke de Verdi's family who are intent on revenge for the death of their brother. Giulia insists Mia should live quietly out of public view. If not, it could threaten them all. But Mia doesn't understand this, and rebels against Giulia, determined to go her own way.

When the two secret lives collide, it has far-reaching and fatal consequences that will change Mia's life forever.

Set amongst opulent palazzos and shimmering canals, The Fortune Keeper is the third novel of adventure and romance based on the life and legend of Giulia Tofana, the famous poisoner.

'Her characters are so real they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf' - Historical Novel Society

This is the third in a series but can stand alone as it features a new protagonist. Other two books are available if reviewers want them.

Trigger warnings: 
Murder and violence in keeping with the era.


Interview

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always loved history, but first started writing as a poet because I hadn’t much spare time, and poems could be short snippets reflecting on every day life. Once my daughter left home, I was able to concentrate on longer form fiction, and that’s when my love of history came to the fore and when I wrote my first novel. I had no idea then that I would write fifteen more! Things that inspire me to write are often events in history where wonder, ‘What would it be like to have lived through THAT?’ In this case, Venice, a place built not on the earth, but on water, inspired me with its setting, and with its shifting allegiances to religion and the new sciences.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

The hardest part was when the history changed. Yes, we think we know about history, but it is always subject to change as new research comes to light. In this case, new archival research revealed that my protagonist had been married twice, (before that I didn’t know she’d been married at all!) and that her daughter was actually a step-daughter, not a blood daughter. I had to incorporate these changes into a book I’d already planned, but it was an exciting discovery and one that led to a whole new plot. Often we don’t realise that history is changing, but the past is always changing, not least because our attitudes towards it have changed. For example, in the last fifty years there has been much more interest in women’s history, and women from the past who would have been ignored are now being platformed by novelists.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Giulia Tofana, the poisoner who features in these books, must have been a woman of strong mind to be able to do what she did, and get away with the deaths of so many people, and to have so many stories handed down about her. In this book she takes second place to her daughter Mia, who is much more outgoing, curious and lively. Mia is left with the burden of her mother’s mis-deeds, although at the beginning of the book she doesn’t yet know it. 

I also really like the character of Zaneta. She is a woman that lives outside society and cares far more for animals than for people. She provides a down-to-earth view of life in a city where everyone is obsessed by wealth and position, and with abstract notions of God and the universe. She provides the grounding element in a world where nothing and no-one can be trusted. 

If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

I have no idea. I don’t follow celebrity culture as I’m more often reading than watching TV or films. I’m such a bookworm! So instead I’ll mention my favourite books which are also set in Italy, like The Fortune Keeper. They are Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant, The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato, and The Giant: a novel of Michelangelo’s David by Laura Morelli.
I think the real star of the book is Venice – a city unlike any other.

What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

I really hope people will be intrigued by the fact that Venice in the 17th Century was full of female astrologers, and that the city itself in that era is such a fascinating place – a city where a whole melting pot of cultures met. I hope they will also come to see that often your true family is not your blood relations, but the friends who are there for you when you need them most.

Buy this Book
#KindleUnlimted

Deborah Swift


Deborah Swift is a USA TODAY bestselling author who is passionate about the past. Deborah used to be a costume designer for the BBC, before becoming a writer. Now she lives in an old English school house in a village full of 17th Century houses, near the glorious Lake District. She divides her time between writing and teaching. After taking a Masters Degree in Creative Writing, she enjoys mentoring aspiring novelists and has an award-winning historical fiction blog at her website www.deborahswift.com 

Deborah loves to write about how extraordinary events in history have transformed the lives of ordinary people, and how the events of the past can live on in her books and still resonate today. 

Recent books include The Poison Keeper, about the Renaissance poisoner Giulia Tofana, which was a winner of the Wishing Shelf Readers Award, and a Coffee Pot Book Club Gold Medal, and The Cipher Room set in WW2 and due for publication by Harper Collins next Spring.

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The Whispering Bookworm




Monday, December 5, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club: The Hearts of All on Fire (The Guid’Antonio Historical Mysteries) by Alana White @alanawhite1480 @cathiedunn

 


The Hearts of All on Fire
(The Guid’Antonio Historical Mysteries)
By Alana White



Florence, 1473. 

An impossible murder. A bitter rivalry. A serpent in the ranks.

Florentine investigator Guid’Antonio Vespucci returns to Florence from a government mission to find his dreams of success shattered. Life is good—but then a wealthy merchant dies from mushroom poisoning at Guid’Antonio’s Saint John’s Day table, and Guid’Antonio’s servant is charged with murder. 

Convinced of the youth’s innocence and fearful the killer may strike again, Guid’Antonio launches a private investigation into the merchant’s death, unaware that at the same time powerful enemies are conspiring to overthrow the Florentine Republic—and him. 

A clever, richly evocative tale for lovers of medieval and renaissance mysteries everywhere, The Hearts of All on Fire is a timeless story of family relationships coupled with themes of love, loss, betrayal and, above all, hope in a challenging world.

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Alana White


Alana White’s passion for Renaissance Italy has taken her to Florence for research on the Vespucci and Medici families on numerous occasions. There along cobbled streets unchanged over the centuries, she traces their footsteps, listening to their imagined voices, including that of her protagonist, Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his friends, Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, Lorenzo de’ Medici.  

Alana’s first short story featuring real-life fifteenth-century lawyer Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his favorite nephew, Amerigo Vespucci, was a Macavity Award finalist and led to the Guid’Antonio Vespucci Mystery Series featuring "The Sign of the Weeping Virgin" (Book I) and "The Hearts of All on Fire" (Book II).  

She is a member of the Women’s National Book Association and the Historical Novel Society, among other organizations. She loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her at her website, www.alanawhite.com.

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Sunday, December 4, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club: Son of Anger (The Ormstunga Saga, Book 1) by Donovan Cook #BookReview #HistoricalFiction @DonovanCook20 @maryanneyarde

 


Ulf is like a storm, slowly building up its power, he grows more dangerous with each passing moment. And like all storms, he will eventually break. When he does, he will destroy everything in his path.

Ulf is one of a long line of famous Norse warriors. His ancestor Tyr was no ordinary man, but the Norse God of War. Ulf, however, knows nothing about being a warrior.

Everything changes when a stranger arrives on Ulf’s small farm in Vikenfjord. The only family he’s ever known are slaughtered and the one reminder of his father is stolen -- Ulf’s father’s sword, Ormstunga. Ulf’s destiny is decided.

Are the gods punishing him? All Ulf knows is that he has to avenge his family. He sets off on an adventure that will take him across oceans, into the eye of danger, on a quest to reclaim his family’s honour.

The gods are roused. One warrior can answer to them. The Son of Anger.


Review

I have always enjoyed Norse fiction, although I don’t get to read it nearly as much as I would like. When I became aware of this book, I just knew I had to read it. 

Ulf may come from a long line of warriors, but he is not one. He grew up on a farm with his aunt, uncle and cousins, and what little fighting he can do is only because he has practiced with his uncle. The arrival of a stranger at the farm destroys everything Ulf has ever known when he bests Ulf’s uncle, and murders the entire family. Ulf miraculously survives with only an injury to his side, and swears that he will avenge his family.

Ulf’s revenge takes him on quite the journey, and he meets many people along the way. Although he never intended to return, he finds himself back in Thorgilsstad, the place he left with his family after his father was killed. And yet, although he never wanted to return, he becomes friends with Snorri, the son of the jarl, and begins to fight alongside him.

Ulf is not a character without issues. He has been angry since his father’s death when he was just a boy, and the deaths of the rest of his family simply give him a purpose to channel that anger into. These were violent times, and the friends he makes don’t try and quell his anger, but encourage it, building him into a warrior so he will be ready when he faces the man he has sworn to kill.

This is not a book with just good world-building, but one that has brought the past back to life. The characters live and breathe within the pages, and I was completely drawn in. This is the kind of book you don’t want to stop reading, and makes you happy to sacrifice sleep in order to continue turning the pages. 

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This novel is available to read on #KindleUnlimited

Donovan Cook


Donovan Cook was born in South Africa but raised in England, and currently works as an English tutor. He is the author of the Ormstunga Saga, which includes his debut novel Son of Anger and the follow up, Raid of the Wolves. His novels come from his fascination with the Viking world and Norse Mythology and he hopes that you will enjoy exploring this world as much as he did writing about it. 

When Donovan is not teaching or writing, he can be found reading, watching rugby, or working on DIY projects. Being born in South Africa, he is a massive Springboks fan and rarely misses a match.


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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club: The Captain’s Woman (The Thompsons of Locust Street) by Holly Bush #HistoricalRomance #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @hollybushbooks @cathiedunn

 

The Captain’s Woman
(The Thompsons of Locust Street)
By Holly Bush



Meet the Thompsons of Locust Street, an unconventional family taking Philadelphia high society by storm…
 
1870. Muireall Thompson takes her duties seriously as the eldest sibling after her parents die on their family’s crossing from Scotland to America in 1854.  Their death made her responsible for her remaining family and left little time for her to grieve her beloved parents. 

But now her brothers and sisters are adults, even the youngest Thompson is nearly ready to face the world on his own. What would she do, she wondered, when she was alone, other than care for an elderly aunt and volunteer at the Sisters of Charity orphanage? Had all the chances for a family of her own, children, a husband, passed her by?
 
Widower Anthony Marcus, recently Captain Marcus of the Union Army, is a man scrapping the bottom of his dignity and hanging on to his honor by the barest thread. Reduced to doing odd jobs to keep a roof over his dear daughter Ann’s head, he often leaves her with the Sisters of Charity, who run an orphanage nearby, while he is out seeking steady work with a decent salary that will allow him to move from their single room living quarters. 
 
At the Orphanage the Sisters inform Muireall that Ann’s father was several hours late and that the girl had refused to eat a meal with the other children. Muireall promised to return the child quickly and takes her to her Locust Street home for a hot meal. Anthony Marcus interrupted their family dinner shortly after, panicked that his daughter was with strangers. 

This begins a friendship held together by their own growing respect for one another and the charm of Ann Marcus. But disaster lurks again for the Thompson family just as Muireall and Anthony’s regard for each other has grown into something much more.

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Holly Bush


Holly Bush writes historical romance set in the U.S.in the late 1800s, in Victorian England, and an occasional Women’s Fiction title. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. 

She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

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On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club: The Flame Tree by Siobhan Daiko #HistoricalFiction #WomensFiction #BlogTour @siobhandaiko @cathiedunn

The Flame Tree By Siobhan Daiko In the spring of 1939, dashing young William Burton and the beautiful Constance Han set sail from London on ...