Warrior of Woden – Matthew Harffy 

AD642 Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the fifth insalment in the Bernicia Chronicles. 

Oswald has resigned over Northumbria for eight years and Beobrand has led the kind to ever greater victories. Rewarded for his fealty and prowess in battle, Beobrand is now a wealthy warlord, with a sizable warband. Tales of Beobrand’s fearsome black-shielded warriors and the great treasure he has amassed are told throughout the halls of the land.

Many are the kings who bow to Oswald. And yet there are those who look upon his realm with a covetous eye. And there is one ruler who will never kneel before him. 

When Penda of Mercia, the great killer of kings, invades Northumbria, Beobrand is one more called upon to stand in an epic battle where the blood of many will be shed in defence of the kingdom. 

But in this climactic clash between the pagan Penda and the Christian Oswaold there is much more at stake than sovereignty. This is a battle for the very souls of the people of Albion. 

About the Author 

Matthew grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline had a huge impact on him. He now lives in Wiltshire, England with his wife and their two daughters. 

You can follow Matthew via Twitter @MatthewHarffy or you can check out his website here.
 

Blog Tour Information 

Matthew and the staff at Aria, have kindly provided an extract of this amazing book, I hope you enjoy. 

“If I die—” Oswald began, his voice intense and jagged.

“You will not die, lord,” Beobrand interrupted. He caught the glance of the warrior against whom Oswald still leaned for support. The man’s eyes were grim. “You will not die,” Beobrand repeated firmly.

“All men die,” whispered Oswald. Beobrand made to speak again, but Oswald raised his left hand. “Hush. I am your lord. Your king. And I would have you swear an oath to me.”

Beobrand nodded. He did not trust himself to speak, his throat was thick with emotion.

“You must swear to me that if I die, you will serve my brother, as you have served me. Oswiu is a father and husband now.” Beobrand recalled how three winters before Oswiu had wed the princess, Rhieinmelth of Rheged. She had quickly borne him a son and was again with child. “Oswiu must not die here today,” Oswald continued. “The kingdom will be his. He will need strong men. Men like you. Lucky men.”

Beobrand loathed it when Oswald referred to him thus. He was not lucky. But he had long ceased trying to correct his king on the matter.

“You are a father too, lord,” said Beobrand, his voice catching. He thought of young Œthelwald and Queen Cyneburg, daughter of Cynegils. “And a husband.”

Oswald sighed.

“I am. But I am king first, and I would have your oath before I breathe my last. Would you deny me that, Beobrand?”

Beobrand shook his head.

“Good. Then swear on whatever you deem sacred that you will give your oath to Oswiu when I die.”

Beobrand clenched his right hand into a fist. By the gods, how had it come to this? Moments ago, he had been standing in the shieldwall, his gesithas by his side, ready to do that for which Oswald most valued him – to bring slaughter to the enemies of Northumbria in the steel-storm of battle. And now, here he was, kneeling in the gelid mud about to swear an oath that would see him tied to Oswiu atheling for the gods knew how many years. Oswiu. Brother of Oswald, son of Æthelfrith. Oswiu, atheling of Bernicia. A powerful man. A cunning man. A dangerous man.

Oswiu, who hated Beobrand.

Beobrand swallowed. The sun was rising red and burning into the empty sky. The men who crowded around them provided no warmth, only shade.

Of course, his oath would mean nothing should he die today. They had come to this place to fight, to put an end to the coalition between Mercia, the East Seaxons, Powys and Lindesege. The threads of Beobrand’s wyrd had long been entangled with those of the sons of Æthelfrith, but he could not have foreseen this twist of destiny.

There was no time for this.

He stared into Oswald’s brown eyes. The king was as pale as the snow atop the peaks of Rheged now. No, there was no time.

“Very well,” Beobrand said, “you have my oath.”

“Swear it on that which you hold most dear.”

Beobrand hesitated.

“I swear on Octa’s life. I give you my oath, sworn on my son’s life.” He shivered. Why had he uttered those words? To offer up his son’s life so easily. Would that the gods had not heeded him. But he knew it mattered not. His word was iron. The oath was given. It was done. “But, lord, you cannot be seen to have fallen here today, before even a blow is struck. Penda’s host will take heart from such tidings. You must stand in the wall.”

Oswald gritted his teeth and gripped Beobrand’s wrist once more.

“Pull me up.”

But Beobrand did not heave Oswald to his feet.

“No, lord, you cannot fight as you are. Have these two take you to the priests, that they may tend your wounds and pray over you.” Beobrand had seen the magic the Christ priests could spin. He hoped they would be able to work their miracles for the king. The weight of the new oath weighed heavily upon him as if he had just donned another byrnie over his own.

Oswald looked confused.

“But the men…,” he looked about them at the shadowed faces of Wynhelm’s gesithas who watched them in silence, “the fyrd-men will know what has happened…”

Beobrand lifted his helm and placed it gently upon Oswald’s head.

“No lord king, for it is Beobrand of Ubbanford who has been struck with an arrow, not the king.”

Beobrand picked up Oswald’s grimhelm. The faceplate was finely wrought with patterns; images of warriors and beasts embossed in the metal.

“And Oswald, son of Æthelfrith,” said Beobrand, pulling the helm over his head and hiding his features completely, “yet stands in the shieldwall, hale and strong.” The helmet was tight, pressing against his ears.

He stood, towering over the men around him

Oswald smiled again.

“It would seem that the king of Northumbria is indeed blessed,” he said, “for he has grown in stature by almost a head’s height when confronted by this host of Mercians, Waelisc and treacherous men of Lindesege.”

Behind the helm’s faceplate, Beobrand did not return the king’s smile.

“Carry him to the priests,” he said to the warriors, his voice booming strangely against the metal of the helm. “Make it quick and see that they heal him. And remember, it is Beobrand who has taken the arrow.”

Beobrand reached down and hefted the king’s shield from where it had fallen. The handle of the shield boss was cold in his half-hand. He would miss the straps he used in his own shield, but he would have to make do.

The ranks of men parted before him as he stepped towards the front of the shieldwall. He rolled his neck in an attempt to alleviate the tension there, but it was no good. He reached down to his belt and touched the hilt of his sword, Hrunting.

Beobrand took a deep breath. Across the moor, the last vestiges of the morning mists had been burnt away by the rising sun. The frost sparkled like jewels scattered upon the ground. As if they had been waiting for him to take his place, the enemy host let out a huge clamour, hammering their spears and blades into shields and roaring their defiance.

“For Oswald,” started the chant around him, rising in intensity as ever more of the Northumbrians took up the battle-cry. “For Oswald! For Oswald!”

By Woden and all the gods he hoped that he was as lucky as Oswald believed. For he must lead these men into battle.

And he must be victorious.

Beobrand drew Hrunting from its finely tooled scabbard and held it aloft to catch the bright rays of the rising sun.

“For Oswald!” he screamed, lending his voice to the tumult. Then, slashing the sword down to point at the enemy shieldwall, he ran forward.

And the men of Northumbria, believing they followed their king, surged forward with him.”

If you would like to purchase any of Matthew’s books, please click here. 

To find out more about Aria Publishers, please click here.

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The Pursuit of Ordinary – Nigel Jay Cooper 

This is creeping up my reading pile and I cannot wait to get this book started. 

Who gets to say what’s normal?

After witnessing a fatal car accident, a homeless man wanders the streets of Brighton trying to ignore the new, incessant voice inside his head. But he can’t forget the crash, can’t get the face of the woman cradling her dying husband out of his mind. She stared into his eyes, his soul. He has to find her. 

Is Dan ill or has he really been possessed by the spirit of Natalie’s dead husband, Joe? If he hasn’t why does she let him into home so easily? Does she have secrets of her own? 

About the Author 

This is Nigel’s second novel. He lives in Brighton with his partner, their two children and their greying giner dog, Luka. Previously, he co-founded digital marketing agency Qube Media (Qubist) and was a writer and editor for Channel 4 television. 

You can follow Nigel via Twitter @nijay or you can catch up with Nigel via his website, click here.

To purchase any of Nigel’s books, please click here. 

The January Man A Year of Walking Britain – Christopher Somerville 

One of the things I loved to do most with my children is get them out and about and we have been on some amazing walks and I thought this book would be ideal for me. 

Month by month, season by season and region by region, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that continually bring his father to mind. As he travels the country – from the winter floodlands of the River Severn to the lambing pastures of Nidderdale, the towering seabird cliffs on the Shetland Isle of Foula in June and the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in autumn – he describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he encounters, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair weather. 

About the Author 

Christopher is the walking correspondent of The Times. He is one of Britain’s most respected and prolific travel writers, with thirty-six books, hundreds of newspaper articles and many TV and radio appearances to his name. He lives in Bristol. 

Christopher has a website you can find out more here.

If you would like to purchase any of Christopher’s books, please click here. 

Black Water – Cormac O’Keeffe 

Tara Crowe is a young detective in a hurry. She is on a mission to clean up the gangs that rule the gritty streets alongside Dublin’s Grand Canal. To do so, she must tackle local crime boss ‘Ghost’ and his notorious crew head on. 

Ten-year-old Jig is the newest, and proudest, member of that crew. He’s lost his granda, his home life is chaos – all that’s left is his football and his dog, Bowie. When Jig is sent to deliver a threat for his boss, an old woman dies and all hell breaks loose. For Tara, it’s the chance she’s been waiting for, a way to finally get at Ghost. But every time she thinks she’s getting close, something gets in her way and she begins to suspect a mole in the station. 

Football coach Shay tries to shield boys like Jig from the Canal Gang, but before long his underworld connections put his own family in the firing line. Shay has nothing to lose, but little to live for if he can’t hold the black waters of the canal at bay. As the violence continues to escalate with the murder of a child and a policewoman, the struggling for survival comes to a head. There will be many losers, but there can only be one winner. 

About the Author 

Cormac is the award-winning security correspondent for the Irish Examiner – work that has given him unique access to contacts in the police and community. He has lived near Dublin’s Grand Canal for many years; his professional and personal lives inform and fuel this novel, giving it the intensity, authenticity and originality of personal experiences. Cormac blogs about his writing, is a respected book reviewer and apears frequently on national radio and television.

You can follow Cormac via Twitter @CormacJOkeeffe. 

Blog Tour Information 

I finally managed to breath just at the end of this book. This novel follows the the murky world of gangs and the terror, fear and violence that impact on the local community. This story is very relevant to the current news which is being reported on heavily on communities and young people especially in cities. 

Jig is a young person who is being sucked into the gangland culture, he is now starting to be valued by the gang members as he does not receive any love or affection at home so looks for it elsewhere. The one person that shows him a little attention is ‘Ghost’ who quite frankly is a nasty piece of work.

Tara Crowe is a young detective who is determined to drive the gangs out of her community and to protect the young people and vulnerable people that the gangs bully and hurt. Tara has her own issues on her own doorstep which she is dealing with and she is trying to progress her career in a ‘mans world’ and does not seem to be getting anywhere. 

Then you follow Shay who is determined to get his family away from the gangland culture but at what cost. 

This book certainly reminded me of stories I have read in the press. I felt an array of emotions from anger where families are not protecting their children to just feeling sorry for people and the local community for getting sucked into the gangland world. I managed to read this book in one afternoon as I simply just could not put it down. 

Cormac is published by Black and White Publishing, for further information, click here. 

If you would like to purchase this book, please click here. 

Disney A Whole New World A Twisted Tale – Liz Braswell 

I am not usually a massive Disney fan, but this book just looked amazing and had to join my book collection. 

What if Aladdin had never found the lamp?

Aladdin is a Street Rat just trying to survive in a harsh city, while Jasmine is a beautiful princess about to enter an arranged marriage. Their worlds collide when the Sultan’s trusted advisor suddenly rises to power and, with the help of a mysterious lamp, attempts to gain control over love and death. 

Together, Aladdin and Jasmine must unite to stop power-hungry Jafar tearing the kingdom apart in this story of love, power and one moment that changes everything…..

About the Author 

Liz earned a degree in Egyptology at Brown University and then promptly spent the next ten years producing video games. She lives in Brooklyn with a husband, two children, a cat, a part-time dog, three fish, and five coffee trees. She insists will start producging beans any day. 

You can follow Liz on Twitter @LizBraswell. 

If you would like to purchase this book, please click here. 

Nevermoor The Trials of Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend 

Now, I have heard whispers that this book is potentially the next Harry Potter. When I read the back of the book I knew it had to come home with me. I think this will be a great book for my children when they are a bit older. 

Morrigan Crow is cursed, destined to die on her eleventh birthday. But, as the clock strikes midnight, she’s whisked away by a remarkable man called Jupiter North and taken to the secret city of Nevermoor. 

There she’s invited to join the Wundrous Society Mystery, magic and protection are hers – if she can only pass four impossible trials, using an exceptional talent. Which she doesn’t have…. 

About the Author 

Jessica lives in Australia, but has dipped in and out of London life, tucking away the best and strangest parts of the city for future fictional use. Her pet fascinations include public transport, ancient cities, hotels, Christmas, opera singers, Halloween, secret societies and gigantic cats – all of which have weaselled their way into Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crown, her first novel. 

Morrigan’s next adventure, Wundersmith, will follow in Autumn 2018. 

You can follow Jessica via Twitter @digressica. 

If you would like to purchase this book, please click here. 

Clean – Juno Dawson 

I love Juno and her books and could not wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. 

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom. 

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility. 

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. 

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all…..

It’s a dirty business getting clean…..

About the Author 

Juno has authored the bestselling World Book Day title Spot the Difference, a non-fiction guide to life for young LGBT people. This Book is Gay, and several young adult novels. 

A regular writer for Attitude, Glamour and the Guardian, Juno has also contributed to news items concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education on BBC Woman’s Hour, Front Row, ITV News, Channel 5 News, This Morning and Newsnight. 

You can follow Juno either via her website, which you can find here. 

Or via Twitter @junodawson.  

If you would like to purchase this book, please click here. 

Summer in a Cornish Cave – Kate Ryder 

Set against a gloriously rugged Cornish backdrop, two lives are about to be changed for ever…..

Oliver Foxley is an acclaimed movie star and global heartthrob. But under the glare of the spotlight his ‘perfect’ life – and marriage – is slowly starting to crumble. 

Cara Penhaligon is a struggling young Cornish artist, and widowed mother of two children. Life has been unbearably harsh to Cara, but meeting Oliver might just give her a second chance at the happiness she deserves. As each begins to heal the other, the pieces of Oliver’s frustrating jigsaw puzzle effortlessly fall into place. But as the Cornish summer draws to a close, Oliver faces the toughest of choices, and no one emerges quite as they were at the start. 

About the Author 

Kate has worked in a number of industries including publishing, mainly as a proof-reader / copy editor and writer for a national newspaper, magazines and publishing houses. A member of the New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelists Association, in 2013 she published her debut novel, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, a timeslip romance and mysterious ghost story, which was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s 2016 “Search for a Star” and also honoured with a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” Award. Kate lives in a renovated 200 year old sawmill in the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals. 

Kate has her own blog / website which you can access here.

Or, you can follow Kate on Twitter @KateRyder_Books.  

Blog Tour Information

Kate and the staff at Aria have kindly provided an extract from Kate’s amazing new book. I hope you enjoy. 

“‘We love the way your daughter has captured the Minack Theatre under a clear night sky,’ he says, and Carol knows he’s being kind and putting her at her ease.

‘Yes, it’s a very different take,’ she mutters, a range of emotions surging through her. With a deep breath she continues, ‘So many artists paint it looking down at the amphitheatre and out to sea, but Cara’s ‘eye’ visualises images in a very different way. This view, I think, has certainly caught the atmosphere of the place.’

‘Indeed,’ the man says. ‘How much is it?’

‘Seven hundred and fifty.’

He glances at his companion, an unspoken communication passing between them. ‘We’ll take it.’

‘And I’ll have these driftwood photo frames as well,’ adds the woman. ‘Samantha will love them.’

Concentrating hard on walking across the gallery, Carol lifts the canvas from the easel. She wraps it carefully, places it in a large, white bag on which ‘The Art Shack’ is printed in vibrant peacock blue and props it against the counter. Then, wrapping the driftwood frames in tissue paper, she places these in another bag.

‘If you’re still here next week you may be interested to know my daughter is having an exhibition in Truro starting on Monday,’ Carol says, amazed that she’s managed a complete sentence without stuttering. She slides the credit-card machine over the counter towards the man.

‘Unfortunately we’re leaving tomorrow,’ the woman says.

‘That’s a shame. Have you been staying locally?’

The woman surveys her coolly. Instantly, Carol feels she’s overstepped the mark, but why? She was only being friendly.

‘Not far,’ the woman replies in a noncommittal manner.

Carol hands the man his card and receipt.

‘Please tell your daughter we will treasure this painting,’ he says, bending to pick up the canvas. ‘It’s a wonderful memory of our visit.’

She promises to pass his message on.

He starts to walk away but turns back to her. ‘I notice your daughter signs her paintings ‘Cara P’. What is her name?’

‘Cara Penhaligon.’

‘A true Cornish name if ever there was one!’ He smiles at Carol with a twinkle in his eyes. As her legs threaten to give way, Carol sits.

His companion is already at the door. As she opens it, the clamour of voices in the courtyard momentarily dips as the couple step out into the late afternoon air. Immediately people surge around and Carol notices how the man signs every scrap of paper presented to him with a quiet dignity, while the woman stands by proprietorially. He catches Carol watching him again and she blushes, embarrassed. He smiles. She can see he’s trying hard to mask his resignation but the darkness she’d noticed earlier once more envelops him. Before Carol can contemplate this further, her friend charges through the door in a state of high excitement.

‘Carol, can you believe it?’ Sheila exclaims. ‘Oh my God! Can you believe it? Here in little old Porthleven!’

Holding a piece of paper aloft, Sheila shimmies her way to the counter. Drawing the paper to her lips, she plants a firm kiss on the autograph. Carol laughs. Sheila is always a whirlwind of fun and enthusiasm, but her energy has extended beyond the norm this afternoon.

‘No, Sheila, I wouldn’t have believed it had I not witnessed it for myself.’

‘Oh my God! Wait ’til Betty hears what she’s missed.’

‘She will be well fed up,’ Carol says, looking out of the window at the now empty courtyard.

Bubbling with excitement, Sheila pulls Carol off the stool and spins her round. Both women giggle like schoolgirls.

‘Grandma!’

Carol turns in the direction of the voice. Her grandson bounds across the shop towards her, dragging his school bag behind him, all cheeky smiles under a mop of blond hair. Momentarily her heart pinches at the image he represents of that other golden child she once knew.

‘Sky, watch where you’re going,’ Cara calls from the entrance. Her daughter, Bethany, stands behind her.

Flinging himself at Carol, the young boy hugs her tightly, and she drops a kiss on the top of her precious grandson’s head.

‘Looks like you’ve been busy, Mum,’ Cara says, glancing at the empty easel. ‘Where’s The Minack gone?’

But before Carol has a chance to respond, Sheila shrieks, ‘Oh my God, Cara! You will never guess who your mother just sold your painting to. I can’t believe it! Oh my God!’ Aware that the boy stares at her, open-mouthed, she quickly adds, ‘Pretend you didn’t hear that, Sky.’

Cara looks from Sheila to her mother in bewilderment. Both women appear flushed with a feverish look in their eyes.

‘Who?’ she asks.

In unison the older women gush, ‘Oliver Foxley!’”

If you would like to purchase this amazing book, or to find out more about Aria Publication, please click here. 

Paris By The Book – Liam Callanan 

I requested this book simply by the cover, I know I should not judge a book by its cover but you cannot help it…..And, any book with a bookshop in I want to read.

In a city of millions, it’s easy to lose someone…….

Twelve weeks before Leah Eady arrived in France, her husband disappeared. Early one morning, he walked out the door and never came back. All he left behind was a scrumpled note in a cereal box, leading her to the bustling street of Paris.

Once she arrives, she discovers a mysterious unfinished manuscript written by her husband, and set in the very same city. Hoping to uncover more clues, Leah takes over a crumbling bookshop with her two young daughters, only to realise that he might just be closer than any of them ever imagined…..

……but what if he doesn’t want to be found?

Paris By The Book is published by Harper Collins, if you wish to purchase this book, please click here.

You can follow Liam via Twitter @liamcallanan.

The Death Chamber – Lesley Thomson 

Queen’s Jubilee, 1977: Cassie Baker sees her boyfriend kissing another girl at the village disco. Upset, she heads home alone and is never seen again.

Millennium Eve, 1999: DCI Paul Mercer finds Cassie’s remains in a field. Now he must prove the man who led him there is guilty.

When Mercer’s daughter asks Stella Darnell for help solving the murder, Stella see echoes of herself. Another detective’s daughter.

With her sidekick sleuth, Jack, Stella moves to Winchcombe, where DCI Mercer and his prime suspect has been playing cat and mouse for the past eighteen years……

About the Author

Lesley grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daugher, was a number 1 bestseller and the series has sold over 750,000 copies. Lesley divides her time between Sussex and Gloucestershire. She lives with her partner and her dog.

Blog Tour Information

The lovely staff at Head of Zeus have provided me with two books to giveaway. All you need to do is the following:

This is a Twitter competition and you need to:

1. Follow me @Shhh_bookblog.

2. Follow Lesley @LesleyjmThomson

3. Follow Head of Zeus @HoZ_Books.

4. Like the tweet and retweet.

This competition is only open to UK residents only and closes on Sunday 15 April 2018 at midnight.
Good Luck!