Agustina De Aragón by Gail Meath–made an Editor’s Choice by Historical Novels Review Magazine.

As many of you know, I’ve been singing the praises of this fabulous historical novel for some time, and other reviewers agree! Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society, made this an Editor’s Choice book for the August 2021 edition, and gave it a fabulous review!

I’m especially happy about this because the author, Gail Meath, a wonderful person by the way, is a self-published author. As you know, I have a heart for self-published authors so I am thrilled to see this book in the magazine alongside books from top traditional publishers like William Morrow and Revell.

Here is a link to my review back in April on a Self-Published Saturday and here is a link to buy this great book on Amazon.

Congratulations, Gail. This book deserves that distinction and more!

Self-Published Saturday, July 31, 2021

This is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight self-published books and their authors. As you know, self-published authors have to do their own marketing, and I hope with this feature to help spread the word about their books. This week’s feature includes two books, both by Brett Salter. They are books 3 and 4 of his Talisman Series. I reviewed Books 1 and 2 already, and I have provided links below. The Talisman Series is a young adult/middle grade fantasy adventure–with dragons! As always, if you buy the book, please remember to leave a review. This is so important for self-published authors.

Book Review: Windy City Ruins (Book 3)

In Book 3 of the Talisman series, Rome, Julian, and Mrs. Case head to New York to meet with a contact and learn more about the talismans and their mission. Circumstances land them in the “Windy City” of Chicago, and they meet new friends and face new challenges. With targets on their backs and evil drawing ever closer, they continue to search for information on how to defeat the Tyrant King and his armies. I continue to enjoy this series, as Rome and Julian learn even more about talismans and their mission, and they meet fascinating new friends along the way. Rome continues to grow and learn. While I was still frustrated with Julian’s rudeness early in the book, he begins to show some growth as well. The group meets even more players in this game and we are introduced to another type of dragon. There is a shocking surprise that will provide more challenges than ever. I continue to be fascinated by the dragons in this series and the good vs. evil battle as a whole. Brett Salter has given us a fascinating world to explore in the Talisman series.

Book Review: The Battle for Verdana (Book 4)

Rome and Julian’s search for true synergy takes them to the forests of the Pacific Northwest where they search for answers and deal with the ever-pursuing enemy. More surprises and new friends await them in the latest book in the Talisman series.

Wow! Five stars for this one as Rome and Julian continue to grow in strength and humility. There are ups and downs, and a fantastic surprise at the end that will not disappoint. As always, epic battles abound, and I really enjoyed the character growth I saw in this book. This book teaches kids important lessons in integrity, humility, and team building. A team is made up of those with different strengths and talents, and I am glad to see this lesson shown so well in these books. I am looking forward to Book 5 and the adventures that await.

LINK TO MY REVIEW OF BOOK 1: THE SEARCH FOR SYNERGY

LINK TO MY REVIEW OF BOOK 2: RIDERS OF FIRE AND ICE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Salter

Brett Salter’s background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration he found as a kid in Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss.  In his formative years, he joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty.  As an adult he took on a dare and wrote The Talisman Series.  He has published four books in this series so far:  The Search for Synergy, Riders of Fire and Ice, Windy City Ruins, and The Battle for Verdana.

BUY THE TALISMAN SERIES

You will find links buy all four books of the Talisman Series by clicking on the photo above.. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read them for free.

Q&A With Brett Salter

Brett Salter was kind enough to answer some questions for me, and I thank him again for taking the time out to do that. Here is the Q&A below:

What inspired you to write the Talisman Series?  I’ve told this story a bunch of times.  And it’s completely true.  My mother dared me to write a book off a premise we came up with together, and I just went with it.  Before I knew it, I had the first book done and since it ended on a cliffhanger, we were like, “What next?”.  I realized that I liked writing so much that I just kept on going.  Now, I’m sitting on 4 self-published books and 7 more waiting in the wings (get it?)

What is the main message you want readers to take away from this series?  I think the main thing I want to impart on young readers is to always take that first step into adventure.  It could be a situation in real life or cracking open a book and following along with characters.  Preaching creativity is really what I strive for with my life and my kids’ lives.  I want them to be passionate about their interests and always be creative because this world need creativity now more than ever.  

How is Book 5 coming along?  Can you share the title yet, and how many books do you have planned for this series?  I plan on releasing the 5th book of my proposed 12 by winter of this year! It needs an edit or two….or three or four. And it needs some cover art, but it should be out early 2022. Book four ends with a pretty big cliffhanger regarding our heroes and their powers.  Well, that DOES get resolved, but the 5th book opens so much more trouble for our heroes in the form Darkbrand threats. Plus, we get a ton of reveals regarding the “big bad’s” plans, more Talismans, and we maybe, possibly, definitely get to visit a new dragon den???  I have several titles in the mix, but I have not settled on one yet.  This book is going to be a little darker than the previous 4, so I need title reflective of the darker turn in the series.  I’m open to suggestions

In your bio you mention being inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings, among others.  Both series feature scenes with dragons, of course, and Eustace from the Chronicles of Narnia even turns into a dragon at one point.  Obviously Eustace was a boy who was turned into a dragon and Rome finds out he is a dragon disguised as a boy.  However, is Eustace an inspiration of sorts for Rome?  That’s an interesting question.  I think the idea of Rome transforming into a dragon may have unintentionally been inspired by Eustace Scrubb or perhaps a similar character from another work of fiction.  But I will say this.  The main difference between Euastace and Rome is that Eustace’s transformation furthers his character development by forcing him to look at his attitude and behavior and change the way he treats people for the better.  Whereas Rome’s transformation is meant to be more in keeping with his destiny.  Confirming he is a dragon DOES change him for the better, but It’s more of realizing his future than trying to make up for past indifferences.  I do see the similarities though.  

What other authors are you reading now?  I read everything E.C. Meyers puts out because most of his books are cannon side projects to my favorite show RWBY.  I’m reading “The Breadwinner” by Deborah Ellis alongside my son for a school assignment.  I just finished “Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut.  And, I intend to start “War for the Oaks” by Emma Bull on a friend’s recommendation.

Do you have any other series planned for the future?  Abso-lutely!  I do have the humblest beginnings of a second series in the works.  I have the plot of the first book and the “Legendarium” already put to paper (or hardrive).  That series will be a work of portal fiction mixed with destiny fiction and entail more adult themes as compared to The Talisman Series.  I came up with the idea in between writing books 8 and 9, and I WILL eventually get around to writing that series.  Maybe after I put out book five of The Talisman Series this winter.

Thanks again to Brett Salter for his great responses to our questions!

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Book Review and Giveaway: Taken at Birth

GIVEAWAY

The winner of the giveaway was drawn randomly, and I’m pleased to announce it is Nancy B. Klein. Nancy has been contacted and I’ll be sending the book to her soon.

Taken At Birth by Jane Blasio is the story of Blasio’s struggle to find her birth family, as well as the birth families of hundreds of other people after finding out about a baby-selling operation in a small town in Georgia. It all revolved around a hometown doctor, Thomas J Hicks, in the small town of McCaysville, Georgia.

Blasio’s struggle with uncooperative townspeople and her own anger and loss of faith makes for a fascinating read. Her journey to find not just her family, but her faith again is poignant. Her determination to find out the truth from a town that was mostly unwilling to give it up is admirable. She details her anger at her own adoptive parents, who were unwilling to reveal much information until right before their deaths. The book contains stories of some of the birth mothers and their dealings with Dr. Hicks, and shows his heartless, selfish, and creepy personality very well. Overall, this is a compelling read. Anyone interested in true crime stories and stories of family separation will enjoy this book.

There is also a six episode series, Taken at Birth, which aired on TLC in 2019.

I received a free copy of this book from Baker Books. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Blasio

     
(In Her Own Words) My personal birth search, as well as acting as a search facilitator and representative for those sold by Doctor Thomas Hicks, has personalized my expertise and reputation. Today, I continue to assist those who are still bound to the Hicks Clinic and looking for answers. I’ve found most of what I was looking for, but not how I ended up at the clinic in the first place. The search of what happened in the clinic will not end until the deception which has marked everyone it touches, is burned off and truth restored. Truth that is owed to all of us lost and torn from the Hicks Clinic.

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Blog Tour and Book Review: The Abdication.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.

BOOK REVIEW: THE ABDICATION:

I would best describe The Abdication as a fantasy thriller with elements of historical fiction, the supernatural, and biblical imagery. I might even add alternate history, as biblical characters appear, but in a different way. Angels, Devils and Moloch play heavily in this story and are, of course, also found in the Bible. Some characters, such as Ruth, Sarah, and Enoch, share names and certain traits with Biblical characters. In this novel, mankind decided to leave Unity after being granted the gift of free will, similar to the Bible story of Adam and Eve, who were forced to leave Eden after gaining the knowledge of good and evil. I see Unity as Eden, and Tula as the representation of mankind trying to return to Eden, or mankind trying to seek out God. Child sacrifice to Moloch is an element of history that is brought into this book and is one of the consequences of man receiving free will. To me, the rope bridge between Topeth and Unity is a symbol of man’s separation from God, and Tula as a symbol of those who try to cross that breach.

The very name of the town Topeth provokes thought, as it is a slightly different spelling than tophet, which comes from the Hebrew toph “a drum,” because the cries of children sacrificed by the priests of Moloch were drowned by the noise of drums, or from taph or toph, meaning “to burn.” The Middle English definition of tophet from Merriam Webster literally refers to the shrine used to sacrifice children to Molech or Moloch in the book of Jeremiah. The author has put a great deal of thought and meaning into every detail of this book.

This novel is entertaining, but will also make you pause and reflect, especially about the consequences of free will and man’s relationship with God. This is a thought-provoking read that will make you consider the results of actions and how evil comes about.

I received a free copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

OTHER BOOKS BY JUSTIN NEWLAND

The Genes of Isis is a tale of love, destruction and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt. A re-telling of the Biblical story of the flood, it reveals the mystery of the genes of Isis – or genesis – of mankind. 

The Old Dragon’s Head is a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of modern times. 

Set during the Great Enlightenment, The Coronation reveals the secret history of the Industrial Revolution. 

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Audiobook Review: A Woman of Intelligence

This review is of the audiobook, received from Macmillan Audio.

On the surface, Katharina Edgeworth has it all–a rich and handsome doctor husband, two gorgeous sons, and an expensive New York apartment. But reality is very different. She is a college graduate who speaks four languages and worked at the United Nations until she got pregnant. She loves her kids, but wants more than motherhood. It is the 1950s, and it is frowned upon for women with children to work. Now she has been forbidden to work or use any babysitters by her controlling husband, who works days at a time, but doesn’t want babysitters or anyone else raising his children. When an FBI agent leaves Katharina his card and says he could use her help, she is tempted, but how can she work as a spy while raising two boys practically on her own? To top it all off, her rich and haughty mother-in-law is continually butting into her business, and is even more controlling than her husband.

I enjoyed many aspects of this women’s fiction and spy thriller mashup. Katharina’s struggle to be more than a housewife in a time when this was discouraged makes an engaging read. Her work for the FBI during the McCarthy era is thrilling. Her friendship with a stunning woman who happens to be a prominent member of the Communist party is one of the best parts of the book. Her determination to use her talents in a fulfilling way for herself is admirable. However, the characterization of her husband Tom is way over the top. He is every stereotype of a 1950s husband–times ten. I also did not like some of the choices Katharina made along the way, but overall this was a satisfying and compelling thriller.

The narration of the book is well done, and the narrator, Jennifer Jill Araya, handles different characters and accents with ease.

My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karin Tanabe

Karin Tanabe is the author of six novels, including A Hundred Suns and The Gilded Years (soon to be a major motion picture starring Zendaya, who will produce alongside Reese Witherspoon). A former Politico reporter, her writing has also appeared in The Washington Post, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, and Newsday. She has appeared as a celebrity and politics expert on Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and CBS Early Show. Karin is a graduate of Vassar College and lives in Washington, D.C.

ABOUT THE NARRATOR

Jennifer Jill Araya

Jennifer Jill Araya has been listening to audiobooks since she was a young child, and the fact that she now gets to narrate audiobooks for a living is a dream come true. Jennifer’s training as an opera singer and orchestral cellist lend a musicality and depth of understanding to her narration that help bring her authors’ stories to life. A two-time Independent Audiobook Award Finalist, Jennifer has narrated over 150 audiobooks for a variety of publishers and producers, including Penguin Random House Audio, Simon & Schuster Audio, HarperAudio, Blackstone Publishing, and Audible Studios. When she’s not narrating, Jennifer can be found hiking, biking, running, or generally exploring her home city of Cincinnati with her husband Arturo (aka “Partner in Crime”) and their two children.

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Self-Published Saturday: July 24, 2021

This is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight self-published books and their authors. As you know, self-published authors have to do their own marketing, and I hope with this feature to help spread the word about their books. This week’s feature is With Face Aflame by A.E. Walnofer. It is a historical novel set in England, 1610. Below is my review, an author spotlight, links to buy, and a Q&A with A.E. Walnofer. As always, if you buy the book, please remember to leave a review. This is so important for self-published authors.

BOOK REVIEW: WITH FACE AFLAME

In England, 1681, Madge works in her father’s inn and goes out of her way to escape notice. She is constantly trying to hide a flaming birthmark that starts below her eye and reaches to the bottom of her cheek. She lives and dies every day by her birthmark and the reaction of others to it. When she meets a friendly and inspiring minstrel, she learns she can sing, and then she hears her father utter words that shake her to the core. Madge decides to join the minstrel and his companion, a juggler, on their travels, and in the process learns a lot of life and herself.

With Face Aflame is a powerful coming of age historical novel. We are transported right to 1610 England, and we learn so much about what life was like then. The characters are so thoughtfully written and it is easy to see a lot of consideration and care went into their development. The issue of self-acceptance is what makes this book so important and real to readers. Madge limits herself and does not try and reach for her talent because she’s so self-conscious about a birthmark. Many of us can relate to that, as most, if not all, of us have something about ourselves that we feel does not quite measure up. The journey from town to town is also a journey of the soul, as Madge learns truths about herself and others, and event after event leads her to question her perception of herself. I would recommend this book to all, because we all can benefit from a journey of self-discovery.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.E. Walnofer

A.E. Walnofer has been creating stories since before she could put pen to paper. Presently, she spends weekdays mobilizing the soft tissue and synovial joints of patients, and weekends typing out stories that are incessantly brewing inside her head. There are lots of these tales and she hopes to share many more of them with you in the future.

Q&A WITH A.E. WALNOFER

Tell Us A Little Bit More About Yourself:

By day, I work as a physical therapist’s assistant, helping patients move, function and feel better. On the weekends, I write as much as I can on my works-in-progress. Any other spare time is spent reading or planning the next trip my husband and I will be taking, which usually includes hiking in some lush, green location. 

What inspired you to write “With Face Aflame” and set it in 1681 England?

At my job, I see countless people who would be so thankful to have a healthy body regardless of how exactly said-body looked. That being said, I know that body positivity isn’t a concept that is unique to the 21st century. One day, I got thinking about teenaged girls through the centuries and how they would have handled their physical anomalies both emotionally and socially. Madge and her story were born out of that. My hope is that everyone can have confidence as they love, take care of and appreciate the body they are in. Winnie Harlow is a fine example of this. She is a very unusual looking model due to her vitiligo, but she is gorgeous, confident and successful.

Your book cover is so well done and eye-catching.  I’m always saying that a book cover must really pop, because readers are scrolling through millions of books on Amazon and it must stand out.  Who designed your cover and how important do you think the cover is to sales?

Thank you for saying so! Julie Hopkins of IndieCoverDesign created it and I think she did a great job, too. 

A book’s cover is absolutely vital to sales. We all judge books by their covers, and that often takes less than a second as we’re scrolling on by! 

What are you working on now?

Presently, I’m working on the sequel to my very first book, A Girl Called Foote. It focuses on Beatrice Wellington, the young red-headed scullery maid who was dismissed in disgrace from serving at the Clyde Family’s estate, Whitehall. It’s about eight years after the previous book ends and it’s time for Beatrice to come to terms with some internal demons and to fall in love!

What authors inspired you to write?

Norah Lofts is hands-down my favorite historical fiction author because her characters are so real. The situations and settings in which she put them are generally commonplace, yet she brought them to life in such intriguing ways. She wrote more than fifty books in her lifetime. My hope is to create books with believable, relatable, lovable characters just like she did, though I’m doubtful I’ll accomplish that fifty times over!

Recently, I’ve greatly enjoyed books by Amy Harmon, Allie Cresswell and Deborah Swift.

You have self-published before.  Tell us about your other works.

A Girl Called Foote is the story of a very clever maid at Whitehall, Lydia, who catches the eye of the heir, Jonathan, while she is reading the books she is supposed to be dusting. This begins a series of respectful yet secretive interactions between the two which eventually blossoms into mutual admiration and affection. It’s an amusingly tasteful romance between members of different classes.

Out of the Bower is a bit grittier. It also tells the story of a gentleman, a young street preacher named Barclay, who becomes enamored with a woman born below him, Honora. However, she has just escaped from a brothel, unbeknownst to him. (Note: the book does not contain any gratuitous or detailed scenes of sexual encounters.) The two begin to fall in love, but she is determined to liberate the friend she left behind at the brothel. Will Honora tell Barclay of her past? Will he still love her? Will her friend ever escape from captivity? Read Out of the Bower to find out! 😊

Do you have any advice for new self-published authors?

I guess the first thing I’d suggest is that would-be authors decide exactly what their goals are in publishing. If they simply want to put together a work that they can hold in their hands and say “I created this” then I’d recommend they watch a few online videos about self-publishing on Amazon and go for it. However, if their goal is to make some actual money by selling lots of books to voracious readers, I’d suggest they study the market very carefully for the genre in which they want to write, then watch a TON of online videos on how to write and sell novels successfully, then go for it.

Personally, I’m somewhere between the two types of authors mentioned above. Although I do want my works to get into the hands (or onto the Kindles) of many, many readers, I don’t want to alter the types of stories I enjoy writing just for the sake of making them ultra-marketable. That’s not me criticizing authors who do that as I know there can be a lot of money and satisfaction in doing so. However, I’m content writing compelling, vital books that might be considered a bit quirky even if the audience they resonate with is smaller.

Thanks so much Aimee (A.E.) for your great answers and for sharing your wonderful book with us!

Thanks for asking such great questions, Bonnie, and for giving With Face Aflame some appreciated attention!

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REMINDERS

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Book Review: Children of the Origin Project

Jake, Alex, and Sarah are foster kids out on a joyride one night in a “borrowed” truck belonging to their group home. When they witness the crash of a UFO, they approach the scene and find a wrecked spaceship with a dying giant inside. The giant transfers his knowledge and memories to them before he dies, and the three lifelong foster kids suddenly find themselves part of a war between worlds.

This well-written middle grade to young adult sci-fi adventure will take readers to the stars. Jake, Alex, and Sarah find themselves being guided by the knowledge of the giant, Sawan, who has left them his memories, and they eventually realize that they are needed to go on a mission to save Sawan’s world, and maybe their own.

This is a captivating, literally out of this world story with vivid characters and thoughtful, purposeful world-building. Using a clever combination of technology and philosophy, Asa S. Rubin creates a story that is both exciting and thought-provoking. Jake, Sarah, and Alex suddenly find themselves with the growing ability to understand the language, thoughts, writings, and very nature of an alien race of people, the Kenali. The Kenali are divided into two opposing factions who are basically forced to work together in order to fight takeover from the evil Anatrus and their powerful super-soldiers. Jake often uses his experience as a foster kid to try and understand the situation in which the Kenali find themselves. Underneath all of this are deep philosophical questions about the origin and meaning of the existence of the Kenali, the Anatrus, and other peoples and worlds.

I have only a bit of constructive criticism, and it is regarding the dialogue. The character Alex has a speech impediment, and the way in which the author has chosen to add this to the dialogue is hard to understand and interrupts the flow of the book.

Fans of young adult/middle grade science fiction, philosophy, and friendship reads will enjoy this story.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Asa S. Rubin

(In his own words)

I grew up reading classic adventure authors like Jules Verne, sci-fi/action novelists like Clive Cussler, and more literary story-tellers like Richard Russo. As a kid, I tried my own hand at writing and quickly discovered that I couldn’t help but combine all my favorite genres together, so that any of my stories had plenty of action, extensive sci-fi, and a healthy dose of psychological or philosophical musings to go along with them. That trend I’ve never been able to stop, but now I’m finally ready to put my stories out there for the world to see. 

In between writing, I’ve gotten degrees in physics, aerospace engineering, and medicine, practiced as a physician, and even done some work for the government. It’s been an interesting ride, and all of these experiences I’ve sunken back into my stories to make them more realistic and authentic. I’ve also climbed a few mountains, gotten hardcore into ultralight backpacking, and most importantly, married my beautiful wife. 

I hope you enjoy my stories. If you’d like to reach me, please email me at nephillim.cotop@gmail.com. And if you’re into hiking, maybe I’ll see you out there on the trail.

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Book Review: The Vines

Set on New York’s North Brother Island in multiple timelines, The Vines combines the sad story of Riverside Hospital for Quarantinable Diseases with the fictional Gettler family. The story opens with Finn Gettler in 2007. He is exploring the remains of Riverside Hospital and sees a beautiful but very scarred woman, who almost kills him. Flashing back to 1902, we meet Cora, who has been sent to the facility with her sister. Possessing unique genetic abilities, she eventually becomes a surgical guinea pig. The time periods move back and forth to different years between 1902 and 2007, as Finn begins to uncover the mystery of Cora and the dark secrets of his family.

This is a medical/psychological thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Cora’s story is intertwined with the true history of Riverside Hospital, including its connection to Mary Mallon, or “Typhoid Mary.” Riverside Hospital’s involvement in the rescue and recovery of passengers after the 1904 fire on the steamship General Slocum and its treatment of young drug addicts in the 1950s and 1960s also play a part. The hospital, in some ways, becomes a character itself. The fictional and real characters from the past are well combined and make for a fascinating tale. The history of North and South Brother Islands, so close to New York City, is explored. The structure is sometimes confusing, as each chapter represents a time flash, and sometimes the exact year is not given. The concept of an asymptomatic carrier of disease such as Typhoid Mary is given a new and even crueler twist in the character of Cora. Fans of historical or medical thrillers will be mesmerized by this novel.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shelley Nolden

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Shelley Nolden is an entrepreneur and writer, now residing in Wisconsin. Previously, she lived in the New York City area, where she worked on Wall Street and first learned of North Brother Island.

At the age of 31, Shelley was diagnosed with leukemia and completed treatment three years later. The sense of isolation and fear she experienced during her cancer ordeal influenced her debut novel, THE VINES.

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Spotlight: The Robin Hood Trilogy

Below is an adventure-packed trilogy that retells the story of Robin Hood in an unusual way. Book descriptions, links to buy, and a Q&A with the two authors are below. My review of all three books will come later on a future Self-Published Saturday feature. The fantastic book descriptions and the Q&A below have me really excited to read this series!

BOOK DESCRIPTIONS

The Robin Hood Trilogy 

“A Wonderful Retelling Seamlessly Merging History and Legend”

Robin Hood’s Dawn (The Robin Hood Trilogy Book 1)

England, 1154-1194
A kingdom under assault.
A conspiracy born of anarchy.
A hero standing against tyranny.

Falsely convicted of a shocking crime, Robin Fitzooth, the Earl of Huntingdon, finds refuge in Sherwood Forest and becomes Robin Hood. Leading a band of men against the injustices of a malevolent sheriff and his henchmen, Robin begins to unravel a web of treachery threatening the English royal family. 

As shadowy forces gather to destroy the future of a nation, Robin faces deceit, betrayal, and the ravages of war as he defends his king, his country, his people, and the woman he loves from a conspiracy so diabolical, so unexpected, that the course of history hangs in the balance.

From the mists of an ancient woodland, to lavish royal courts teeming with intrigue, to the exotic shores of the Holy Land—Robin Hood leads the fight in a battle between good and evil, justice and tyranny, the future and the past.

Part one of an exciting three-part retelling of the Robin Hood legend!

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Robin Hood’s Widow (The Robin Hood Trilogy Book 2)

Robin’s duty to his king sends him on an odyssey that will unfold from the streets of Paris to the banks of the Danube. From incredible triumphs on the battlefields of the Crusade, to harrowing sea voyages, to a desperate dash across the frozen landscape of Central Europe, Robin Hood must ensure that King Richard safely returns to England.

Meanwhile, the outlaws of Sherwood Forest rise again under a new leader—and she is unwavering in her pursuit of justice against the tyranny of Sheriff de Argentan. Marian endures the heartbreak of widowhood only to find strength and purpose as she leads a small band of devoted men in her quest for vengeance while she protects Robin’s legacy.

Sir Guy of Gisborne, tormented by his conscience and enslaved by the sheriff, faces the wraith-like fury of the woman he once loved. How do you find forgiveness when you have committed an unforgivable crime? He must attempt a daunting journey of redemption, while finding inspiration from an unexpected source.

And through it all, Robin, Marian, and Guy are entangled in a web of treachery spun by the King of France and his sinister advisor, Montlhéry, as the plot to dismantle the Angevin Empire and take the throne of England from the Plantagenets boldly continues. 

Part two of an exciting three-part retelling of the Robin Hood legend!

Robin Hood’s Return (The Robin Hood Trilogy Book 3)

The Legend of Robin Hood is born when he is outlawed after returning from the Holy Land. 

Finally reunited, Robin and Marian, along with their band of men, must face both an army led by the mysterious Sheriff of Nottingham and the wrath of a ruthless Queen Eleanor. Confronting betrayal and forging new alliances, they fight against the sheriff’s tyranny, determined to uncover his secrets.

With King Richard in captivity, Queen Eleanor must collect an unprecedented king’s ransom, while an increasingly reckless Prince John pursues the throne at any cost. As opposing forces battle for control of the English throne, the King of France and his sinister advisor, Montlhéry, conspire to end the Plantagenet dynasty forever.

Dark secrets and unexpected revelations could destroy the future of England. The course of history hangs in the balance. Robin and Marian must prove their innocence while saving both King Richard andPrince John. But can they prevail in the ultimate battle between the future and the past?

A thrilling, fast-paced finale to a unique retelling of the Robin Hood Legend!

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Author Q&A with Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer

Olivia Longeville

J.C. Plummer

Q: How does your trilogy compare to the traditional Robin Hood ballads?

We hope all Robin Hood fans will enjoy this retelling. One of our goals was to create a story that was unique, yet respectful towards the original legends. We also wanted to merge history and legend in a compelling, believable way. 

Additionally, we felt that Marian was a character who deserved more attention. All too often she is in the background with little to do. With this in mind, we have created a Lady Marian who takes center stage in Robin Hood’s Widow and Robin Hood’s Return, defeating her opponents with brains instead of brawn.  

Q: What do you consider the heart and soul of your trilogy? Can you give us an overview that goes beyond the blurbs?

The first book, Robin Hood’s Dawn, re-imagines the origins of Robin Hood. Readers are introduced to a young man who has been shaped by two very different parents: a distant, selfish father and a compassionate mother devoted to helping the poor. The themes featured in this book include taking a stand for what is right, recognizing the intrinsic value of every human being, and how the sins of a father can affect the next generation. 

In the second book, Robin Hood’s Widow, Marian, Guy of Gisborne, and the Sheriff of Nottingham believe that Robin is dead. But Robin is alive, and he is with King Richard in the Holy Land.

Robin Hood’s Widow explores themes of grief and redemption, while featuring Marian’s adventures as leader of the outlaws. Her story is told in parallel with Robin’s quest to return home as he fulfills his obligations to King Richard. Despite the difficult subject matter, Robin Hood’s Widow is an inspirational tale of triumphing over adversity. 

The conclusion of the trilogy, Robin Hood’s Return, reunites Robin and Marian. Unfortunately, their joy is overshadowed by the prospect of a vengeful Prince John taking the throne. While Robin labors tirelessly to support King Richard and raise his ransom, the sheriff orchestrates a diabolical plot that causes Robin to be outlawed again. With Marian at his side, he must defeat the sheriff while ensuring the return of the king.

The sheriff’s secrets and the full extent of the conspiracy to end the Plantagenet dynasty are revealed in Robin Hood’s Return. Robin and Marian must prove their innocence while saving both King Richard and Prince John. In addition to the recurring theme of the sins of the father, the story explores themes of trust and forgiveness as Robin and Marian rebuild their relationship after several years apart.

Q: Do you have a target audience for the trilogy?

Readers with a passion for history will appreciate the historical details woven into the story. Fans of Sharon Kay Penman, Alison Weir, and Elizabeth Chadwick will enjoy this medieval trilogy.

How did you become interested in writing the trilogy and working together as co-authors?

Olivia:

The story of Robin Hood’s Widow is very special to me, and I wrote the original version after I experienced a devastating personal loss. Readers might be surprised to learn that Robin Hood’s Widow was written before Robin Hood’s Dawn!

I love to tell stories with multi-dimensional characters. I am multi-lingual, and I enjoy writing stories in different languages. My first published novel was an English-language alternate history featuring Anne Boleyn.

JC:

I’ve worked as a freelance editor for several authors, including Olivia. We connected over our love of history and Robin Hood. I was editing the original version of Robin Hood’s Widow when we were inspired to write a full trilogy with Robin Hood’s Widow as the centerpiece. 

Robin Hood’s Dawn became the origin story, and now Robin Hood’s Return brings the story to completion with a fast-paced, thrilling finale. 

LINKS TO BUY OR DOWNLOAD ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

More good news: Kindle Unlimited subscribers can download all three books for free! The ebooks are also priced very low if you would like to purchase them outright. They are $2.99 each on Amazon US and £2.42 and below on Amazon UK.

BOOK 1: Robin Hood’s Dawn

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

BOOK 2: Robin Hood’s Widow

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

Book 3: Robin Hood’s Return

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

Book Giveaway: Taken at Birth (A True Story)

I am giving away a hardback copy of Taken at Birth by Jane Blasio. This is the true story of a small town doctor in Georgia who would tell some of the pregnant mothers who came to his clinic that their babies had died or been aborted, and then sell them to parents who wanted to adopt. He did this for over 20 years. Jane Blasio is one of these babies. She began investigating and managed to find many of the other children affected. Through DNA tests, some of them found their birth parents and some are still looking for answers. This story of Jane’s quest for answers and the town that looked the other way has been on many major news networks.

In order to enter the giveaway, just comment below. I will be doing a random drawing on July 30th after 5 PM. I will post the review and giveaway on July 31st. This is a fascinating story, so be sure and enter the giveaway!