Cover Crush: The Oxford Inheritance by A.A. McDonald

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As many of you know, I judge a book by its cover. As I said on my last cover crush post, overall presentation is important to pull a reader in. When I read a story I want to be completely immersed. A grand cover helps that along. Imagery and all-if you will. Check out the book description below and then be sure to read what I have to say about the cover and the premise!

The Oxford Inheritance

At prestigious Oxford University, an American student searches for the truth about her mother’s death in this eerie, suspenseful thriller that blends money, murder, and black magic.

You can’t keep it from her forever. She needs to know the truth.

Cassandra Blackwell arrives in Oxford with one mission: to uncover the truth about her mother’s dark past. Raised in America, with no idea that her mother had ever studied at the famed college, a mysterious package now sends her across the ocean, determined to unravel the secrets that her mother took to her grave. Plunged into the glamorous, secretive life of Raleigh College, Cassie finds a world like no other: a world of ancient tradition, privilege—and murder.

Beneath the hallowed halls of this storied university there is a mysterious force at work . . . A dark society that is shaping our world, and will stop at nothing to keep its grip on power. Cassie might be the only one who can stop them—but at what cost?

My thoughts:

My daughter and I went to Barnes & Noble the other day ago and I immediately walked over to the featured hardbacks up front. This book caught my eye. I’m still not convinced it was the actual cover that caught my eye but the title. Nonetheless, I love the book cover. I love it for its simplicity yet its stark bold feeling to it. Maybe it’s the color of the hardback and with a picture of an open book with a key held by a red ribbon draped across.  It gives it a mysterious, secretive and intelligent feel.  What  hidden secrets will that key unlock? What secrets does that book contain? Will it utterly fascinate me?

This book cover works for me and it encouraged me to find out about the story within.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Check out more Cover Crush posts from these great bloggers!

Flashlight Commentary

Two Kids and Tired Books

A Bookaholic Swede

indiebrag Cover Crush with Colleen Turner

indiebrag Cover Crush with Lisl

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A Writer’s Life-Part II with Valerie Biel

Valerie Biel BRAG II

I’d like to welcome back B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Valerie Biel to Layered Pages to talk about-further in-depth-her life as a writer.

Valerie, what are your goals as a writer?

Initially, I had no goals. I had a far-off idea that someday I would write all the stories building up in my mind, but I put it off. I was busy. I had a job. I had kids, a husband, a house, laundry . . . I meant to write but I let all these things override that desire, along with the self-defeating voice in my head that told me my writing was unimportant in the vast sea of amazing writers in the world.

Then in 2003, my oldest sister died after a one-year battle with terminal cancer. At the time, of course, we were just devastated, but never thought that this very rare cancer would recur in our family. Fast forward to 2008 and a second sister is diagnosed with the same terminal cancer. My siblings and I quickly realized that this cancer had a genetic component, making us all potentially susceptible. Even without the possibility that this cancer could strike at any time, the loss of two siblings caused me to reflect on my priorities.

I made a life-affirming decision to embrace my writing, and all the opportunities in front of me. I decided that my dreams couldn’t wait any longer. I decided that it didn’t matter if I ever made the New York Times’ Bestseller list. I would write for me—just for the satisfaction of sharing my thoughts, my ideas, and my stories.

In 2009, I made this vow and began that elusive novel. I didn’t tell anyone other my closest family members I was writing it. Internally, I had a five-year plan to publication, but I didn’t voice this either. I completed the novel in 2010. I was encouraged by early critiques and contest accolades and kept going. For the next three and a half years, the manuscript was alternately being edited and marinating while I wrote two middle-grade novels. Finally, in 2014 I achieved my goal of publishing my debut novel Circle of Nine – Beltany.

Now, my goal is to write as much as possible every day. I have story ideas stacked up and waiting for my attention.

What are the boundaries you push as a writer?

I wouldn’t have said that I was pushing any boundaries (other than the amount of sleep I need each night) until I received a few mixed reactions from particularly religious friends. My Circle of Nine series highlights a Celtic pagan culture akin to modern-day Wicca. Some of my plot-lines also address the conflict between the early Christian church and pagan customs and the subjugation of women by a patriarchal society. Oh yes, and there’s magic! Lots and lots of magic. What’s funny is that I never set out to push boundaries. I set out to tell a certain story the best way that I could.

What are the changing emotions you have as a writer?

Ha – this is funny. I once saw a cartoon that highlighted the emotion of an author throughout the day and it went something like this.

I really suck.

Hey, this isn’t so bad!

This is brilliant. I rock!

Nope. My writing sucks.

That about sums it up. In seriousness though, we all go through bouts of self-doubt no matter what occupation we’re in, but I think it is harder in the arts when you are creating something that is so personal to you. I am much more confident at promoting myself and my writing now than I was when I first started. And I have a much thicker skin when it comes to criticism. You will never please everyone! When I get down about things, I can look to my successes and feel quite good about what I’ve accomplished. I know writers always say they write because they have to write. A better way for me to put this is that I am my whole person when I write. Allowing myself to embrace my need to be creative, brings a lightness to my world and a feeling of self-worth that is different from the other areas of accomplishment in my life.

Circle of Nine Valerie Biel II

What are your personal motivations in story-telling?

My main motivation is to write the very best story I can, which means that I work hard to create something that is both entertaining and intriguing and possibly makes the reader see the world just a little bit differently.

Define your writing style.

That one is hard for me. Hmmmm – define my writing style.

When writing fiction, I try to keep my modern-story style very true to the rhythm of current conversation patterns – particularly teen dialog when writing YA. The historical portions of my stories require more thought. The formality with which I construct the sentences becomes much more deliberate to convey the correct sense of time and place. I am very particular about word choice in my historical stories and double check that certain phrases would indeed have been used in that era.

I have this “thing” about including educational-type details in my stories . . . mostly this is a matter of good research and (I feel) gives my stories an authenticity about the era.

I use the word just too much and usually take out half (or more) of the “justs” when editing.

I don’t use commas enough. Thank goodness for my critique partners who are excellent grammarians.

I like writing in first person and third person equally well, but I always write in past tense. I’ve written one piece of flash fiction just recently in present tense and it won an award, so maybe I should try that more.

I wish I lived in England so I could spell favourite and colour this way because it looks so much cooler. And, because I want to call my cell phone my mobile.

Five sentences that describe your craft.

I have a vivid recollection of what it felt like to be different ages, which is why I like writing for teens and tweens so much.

Writing allows me the freedom to indulge my love of history through the research needed for my stories set in different eras.

Asking the question “why?” is as important as asking the question “why not?” whether in life or in story construction.

I attempt to create accessible stories that transport the reader to another world or place or time, entertaining and possibly enlightening them along the way.

I write the stories that I want to read.

Valerie Biel’s love for travel inspires her novels for teens and adults. When she’s not writing or traveling, she’s wrangling her overgrown garden, doing publicity work for the local community theatre, and reading everything she can get her hands on. She lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and three children and dreams regularly of a beautiful cottage on the Irish coast where she can write and write and write.

Her debut novel Circle of Nine – Beltany has been honored as a 2015 Kindle Book Award Finalist, a finalist in the Gotham Writers’ YA Novel Discovery Contest and the Readers’ Favorite Book Award Contest as well as being a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree.

 Author Websites:

Website/Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Book Trailer

 

 

Review: No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

No one knows II

In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s SecretNew York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

My thoughts:

When I began reading this story the jumping back and forth to the present and past was getting on my last nerve. I think it was the way it was done starting in the beginning. At first I couldn’t see where it was going and I thought it might be too much back story on things that did not matter to the plot. Well, I was dead wrong. I started to see a pattern and when I thought I had the whole story figured out, BAM-there is a total plot twist that had me so shocked! I did not see it coming at all!

For the characters, Aubrey actually annoyed me. I disliked Daisy until I realized that she was right about a few things and I sort-of changed my opinion of her. Okay, I really didn’t but I sympathized with her a little. Though she was wrong about a lot of things. As for the other characters they are just as messed up.

This psychological thriller has all the right twisted, disturbing, dysfunctional characters and situations. I found myself about half way racing through the pages to see what happens next. Things get really intense and when you think you have it all figured out, everything you thought will turn out differently in the end.

I rated this book three stars.

I received a copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

A murder in time

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates. While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place – Aldrich Castle – but in a different time: 1815, to be exact. Mistaken for a lady’s maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there’s some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

My thoughts:

I’d like to start off my mentioning the whole concept of time-travel story. Sometimes it works in stories and sometimes it does not. In this story, it works and the author gives such a brilliant and believable description of Kendra being pulled through time. For me that was pretty intense. I could almost feel the physical pain she was going through.

I really dig the premise of an FBI Agent traveling through time and ending up working a case of a 19th century murder that turns into much more. You also meet some other great characters that race to help her solve the crimes. For starters, Rose, Rebecca, Molly, Alec and Duke Aldridge are about the best written supporting characters I have read in a good while. Most of all I was so fascinated with Kendra’s process in trying to solve these murders and some of the other characters thought process. I believe Kendra really brought that out in them and she really got them to think outside their 19th century minds.

The killings are graphic, there is profanity in this story. Quite a bit of it in the beginning actually. I’m not one for profanity but I understand the scenario the author was portraying. Intense situations cause people to react in all kinds of ways. For many, profanity is one of them. Even though the killings are graphic, this gives you a real sense of what the victims are going through, which makes the story all the more intense. I think that was brilliantly done and gives you a real understanding of that type of evil in the world.

I found this story to be atmospheric, packed with lots of action, high-energy situations and such intense and real emotions. I couldn’t put it down. I loved it and I hope there will be a sequel!  I’ve rated this book four and a half stars.

I received a copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Interview with Julie McElwain

Julie MelwainI have the great pleasure and honor to introduce Julie McElwain to Layered Pages today, to talk with me about her book A Murder In Time. Julie is an award-winning journalist, who began her career as a business reporter at California Apparel News, a weekly Los Angeles-based fashion trade newspaper. She has freelanced for numerous publications from professional photographer’s magazines to those following the fashion industry. Currently, Julie is an editor for CBS Soaps In Depth, a national soap opera magazine covering the No. 1 daytime drama, The Young and the Restless. Julie lives in Long Beach, CA.

 Julie, please tell your audience about A Murder in time.

A Murder In Time is about FBI agent Kendra Donovan, who goes rogue after her present day mission is botched. In her quest for justice, she infiltrates a costume ball at Aldridge Castle in England. When she encounters an assassin, she escapes through a passageway and encounters a terrifying phenomenon, which transports her back to 1815.

You could say that Kendra’s modern senses clash with Regency England’s sensibilities. She’s initially mistaken for a lady’s maid, but is quickly demoted to a below-stairs maid. When the body of a young girl is found brutally murdered, Kendra realizes that a serial killer is on the loose. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra is forced to rely on her wits to unmask the murderer.

What are some of the courage and strengths of Kendra and possibly the isolation she may feel with these attributes?

As the offspring of two scientists who believed in positive eugenics, Kendra didn’t have a normal upbringing. Like an athlete, she spent her life “training” to excel in academics. Her intelligence has always set her apart from her peers, and made her feel isolated. She was only a young teenager when she went to college. Socially, she didn’t fit in with the older college students, which only made her feel more like a freak. When her parents abandoned her after she asserted her independence, Kendra was forced to develop a tough outer shell to survive. She became a loner, dedicated to proving herself in her chosen career, and deeply wary of emotional attachments because of her parents’ abandonment. As tragic as Kendra’s life was, I think it gave her the strength to deal with being transported to 1815, where she’s the ultimate outlier. I think a person with a more normal upbringing would have been driven insane or reduced to a quivering ball of fear!

A murder in time

What is the mood or tone your characters portrays and how does this affect the story?

 There is a great deal of suspicion between Kendra and her nineteenth century counterparts, which adds to the tension. The Duke of Aldridge, Alec, and Sam Kelly are aware that Kendra lied about how she came to England. They have varying degrees of distrust. They also regard Kendra’s manners, speech patterns and behavior as peculiar, to say the least, but they put it down to her being an American. For her part, Kendra has a difficult time trusting them with her big secret, and that has her proceeding cautiously. And she worries about screwing up the space-time continuum, which is something she’s never had to worry about in her previous murder investigations for the FBI! She can’t help but be skeptical over this group’s contribution to the murder investigation. She was always more advanced than her peers, but with these people, she’s centuries more advanced. It’s not that she thinks she’s superior… but she kind of does. It will be a journey for her to reach a different conclusion.

 Who are your five top antagonist? What motivates them?

 Kendra’s father, Carl Donovan, is an early antagonist. He plays a small part in the overall story, but he is crucial in Kendra’s development as a human being. As a scientist, he prizes intellect above all else, and believes that Kendra stubbornly refused to live up to her potential. His black-and-white view always made Kendra feel unworthy, and therefore more determined to prove herself.

I consider Mrs. Danbury — the castle’s housekeeper — a wonderful antagonist. She’s like the Old Guard protecting the status quo. The world of aristocrats, servants, working class, and merchants is what she’s familiar with, and she finds Kendra’s bold behavior — her lack of deference to the hierarchy — to be bewildering and rather threatening.

I really don’t want to give away the murderer’s identity for someone who hasn’t read the book, so I will put the following men in the antagonist category, with Kendra bumping heads with each of them. Alec’s brother, Gabriel, is a self-pitying alcoholic. Mr. Harris is the youngest son of an earl, who was appointed the village vicar, a station that he thinks is beneath him. Mr. Morland lives in a nearby estate and is the local magistrate, whose chauvinistic attitude towards Kendra is typical of the era. Mr. Dalton is a former surgeon, who inherited a nearby estate, and is insulted to be considered a suspect in Kendra’s investigation. Finally, Captain Harcourt is Gabriel’s friend, and is hunting for an heiress to replenish his funds. All of these men are motivated to keep their secrets from coming to light. Of course, no one is more motivated than the murderer!

 What inspired you for your main character to be an FBI agent?

 I really wanted Kendra to be in some type of law enforcement. She needed to have a specialized skill set — the ability to read a crime scene, to understand criminal behavior, and to be able to defend herself. Being an FBI agent was very organic to the story, which involves a serial killer. But it also felt right, given Kendra’s background. Her parents are driven, ambitious scientists who are at the top of their field. While Kendra chose a different path, which led to a chasm between her and her parents, she is as ambitious and determined to prove herself, and wants to be at the top of her field. Being the youngest agent ever accepted by the Bureau certainly put her on that path!

 Why did you choose 1815 for the period Kendra falls back in time too?

 I’ve always found this period in history to be utterly fascinating. It parallels our own era in so many ways. The war with Napoleon had just ended and the Industrial Revolution was just beginning. New machines were taking away jobs, creating a lot of simmering tensions between the haves and have nots. It was a time of contrasts — with great wealth on one side, and terrible poverty on the other; a silliness in its celebrity culture and yet a seriousness in the political upheaval. Of course, I’m also a big Jane Austen fan, and have enjoyed reading romances set during this era… I just wanted to write a mystery that actually had a modern day heroine — sort of Jane Austen meets Criminal Minds.

Does Aldridge Castle really exist?

 No, but I’ve traveled throughout England, Scotland and Ireland, and one of my favorite things to do is tour old castles and great estates. Aldridge Castle is an amalgam of many of the fantastic places that I’ve visited, including Dublin Castle, Kensington Palace and Leeds Castle, just to name a few.

 How much research went into your story?

 I did tons of research! I probably own every reference and history book on the time period. There are many wonderful blogs and websites by romance writers who specialize in the Regency era, which were invaluable. I also have a library of forensics books and police procedurals, and I did a lot delving into the subjects of quantum physics, wormholes, and string theory. This may be a piece of fiction, but it was important to me to be as accurate as possible.

What do you like most about writing a time travel story?

 I really liked the idea of taking a smart, modern person and tossing them back in time. We have a tendency to think that we’re so much more intelligent than our ancestors. But if you take away our modern inventions, just how smart are we? Would we be able to survive? Once my DSL went out, and I was forced to use dial-up to get on the Internet for about a week. That darned near killed me! I loved putting someone as clever as Kendra, as self-sufficient and independent, in a world that was totally alien to her, and watching how she would cope.

The time travel element also allowed me to offer dual viewpoints. Kendra was as much a puzzle and an oddity to her nineteenth century counterparts as they were to her. I liked being able to view the early nineteenth century through modern eyes, while at the same time, look at our own twenty-first century culture through the lens of the nineteenth century. We don’t blink an eye anymore at using profanity in casual conversation, but that would have shocked and appalled most people in 1815.

Time travel is pivotal to the plot, but this is not a science fiction story. Of course, Kendra thinks about the mechanics of time travel — how could she not? — but I’m more interested in the human element, on how we’ve changed as a people… and how we’ve stayed the same.

Will there be a sequel?

 It depends on how well A Murder In Time does, but I’m currently working on a sequel — so cross your fingers!

Who are your influences in writing?

I’m an avid reader, and am inspired by many authors. Some of my favorites are Karen Slaughter, Lisa Gardener, Tami Hoag, Tess Gerritsen, Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz, Lee Child, Ariana Franklin, Amanda Quick… the list goes on. I tend to be pretty eclectic in what I read, but I veer towards mysteries and thrillers. Let’s just say, I get motivated by anyone who can spin a good tale.

Where can readers buy your book?

 Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, as well as online retailers like Amazon.

Links: 

Author Facebook Page

Pegasus Books

Thank you, Julie! 

 

Characters in Motion with Annie Whitehead

Welcome to Question Time, coming to you ‘live’ from 10th century Mercia. Here with me tonight are, from To Be A Queen, Aethelflaed and Ethelred, and from Alvar the Kingmaker, we have Alvar, Káta, and Alfreda. Our first question comes from our viewer, Stephanie, and she would like to know which of the senses you consider most vital.

Alvar II.jpgAlvar and Káta, if I could turn to you first? 

“Thank you, Annie. Lord Alvar will allow me to begin, but I wish to speak about him. His sense of smell is acute. Once, before he met me, he wandered off in search of a ‘lady’ of the court, trying to locate her by catching a waft of her scent. When he gets angry, he talks in terms of smell, and has been known to declare that foul play ‘Stinks worse than a Welshman’s fart.’ Please excuse my language.”

Lord Alvar?

“Yes, I do notice smells. Káta is too self-effacing to tell you, but when I lay wounded and barely alive, the first thing I perceived when I regained consciousness was the delicate fragrance of her perfume and I knew I was in her care, and would recover. She has always been envious of Queen Alfreda, but she will discover, poignantly, that Alfreda wears that same perfume, and it reminds me always of Káta.”

Lord Alvar, can you tell us about Káta now?

“She will tell you that I am never comfortable talking about the women in my life, and especially about her. I get tongue-tied and often make a fool of myself, but I shall try. I love watching her: her fingers are nimble and throughout our story I have watched her bandaging various people, myself included, and working at her spinning. When she is worried, she will reach out and touch her loved ones, for reassurance or to check that their wounds are healing. In relaxed moments, she will run her hands through a sack of dried peas, or, out walking, she will tug at the plants along the hedgerow, often playing with a stalk of grass that has come away in her hands. I watched her once, threading a chain of flowers, and when she caught me looking at her, I don’t know which of us was more embarrassed. And, after I’d tried and failed to describe Queen Alfreda to her, I tickled her face with a blade of grass. That very nearly led to something we both would have regretted at the time.”

Ah yes, now we should speak to Queen Alfreda?

“Well, it’s all about the eyes, isn’t it? It’s about what people see, or don’t see. Beauty and bruises. I spent my early life making sure that folk could not see the marks upon me. I hid away, I held my hands to my chest when I walked, I sat in dark corners. Then a powerful man, the king, no less, declared me beautiful and persuaded me to believe him. There was a moment, when I made a decision to wear my best and most expensive dress, of green silk. That decision changed my life, for people saw me and knew me to be a noblewoman. It was the day I shed one life and began another. Nowadays, I make sure that whenever men look upon me, they see me at my best. I will smooth my skirts, I sit up straight, and I meet their gaze. I have found, though, that it pleases them if I then look away and slightly downwards. Except that the lord Alvar…”

To BE Quuen by Annie Whitehead II

Thank you, and please don’t upset yourself. Shall we turn now to our guests from To Be A Queen? Lord Ethelred?

“I was a warrior and I relied upon all my senses. I would have answered Stephanie’s question by saying that they are all equal. But there came a time in my life when my eyes and legs failed me. I had to rely for a while on my hearing, and at first it played tricks on me. I lay in bed, and listened, but sometimes in the swirling world between sleep and wakefulness I couldn’t distinguish between the flocks of geese and the noise of chatter from the great hall. Gradually I learned to listen more closely to what I was hearing, and was able to detect the subtle change of tone in people’s voices, that betrayed their true feelings. Did you know that, my love?”

Lady Aethelflaed?

“Yes, I did. And I know the conversation you have in mind. But let’s not dwell on that.”

“No, my love, let us tell them instead about you, and how you honed your missile-launching skills. I watched you, remember, playing with the children and trying to hook horseshoes onto a stick in the ground? It was just after you had thrown a shoe at the crow to scare it away from the newly-planted herb bed. I recall the night you silenced a row between Mercians and their visitors from Wessex by hurling plates and cups at them from the head table. And I daresay those Vikings outside the walls of Chester were a bit surprised to see what you ordered to be pelted over the walls at them.”

“Well, they made me cross. And we had to do something, folk were starving…”

Ah yes, Lady Aethelflaed. We’ve talked tonight about Smell, Touch, Sight, Hearing, and Hand-Eye Co-ordination. What of Taste?

“Annie, dear author, do we really need to remind you? Even when we are not enduring famine, which happens frequently, our food is, really, quite appalling. My wedding feast was sumptuous, thanks to my Lord Ethelred’s generosity, but when I tell you that we had the luxury of expensive herring, you might remember that everything is relative. Mostly, even we rich folk eat what you would call basic foods: meat (boiled or roasted), fish, cheese, fruit, nuts, pulses, vegetables. Oh, and most of us will wear our teeth down quickly because our bread is very gritty. I believe that Káta ordered her flour to be ground more thoroughly when her lord was home, but says she doesn’t need it so finely ground when he is away.”

Ah, but when you say ‘her lord’ you don’t mean Alvar, do you? Perhaps we’d better move on. Thank you to all my guests tonight. Next week there will be a different panel, and no doubt a completely different question from our viewer, Stephanie. Thank you all for watching, and Goodnight.

Annie Whitehead head shot II

Annie Whitehead is a history graduate who now works as an Early Years music teacher. Her first novel, To Be A Queen, is the story of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, who came to be known as the Lady of the Mercians. It was long-listed for the Historical Novel Society’s Indie Book of the Year 2016. Her new release, Alvar the Kingmaker, which tells the story of Aelfhere of Mercia, a nobleman in the time of King Edgar, is available now, and is the story of one man’s battle to keep the monarchy strong and the country at peace, when successive kings die young. Attempting to stay loyal to all those who depend on him, he must make some very personal sacrifices. A third novel, also set in Mercia, is due to be released in 2017. Annie is currently working on the novel which was a prize-winning entry in the Mail on Sunday Novel Writing competition and which she was encouraged by judge Fay Weldon to complete.

Alvar the Kingmaker

To Be a Queen

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Dilemmas & Books: It Never Ends

The City of mirrors

I got an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) for this. I read the first one and I need to read the second one before reading this one. Or I could just ask my Father and Brother about the second one since they read both books one and two. *laughing* So many books-seriously-and so little time! I love it!

Oh, heck! I am just going to go ahead and read it. I don’t think I can wait. Plus, I want to get my review up for it soon.

Book Description: The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew—and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy—humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.