Archive for the ‘Historical Fiction’ Category

Book Review – The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer (@NancySpringer)

November 18, 2019 Leave a comment

The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer

Book Description:

When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits. Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers—all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Amid all the mayhem, will Enola be able to decode the necessary clues and find her mother?


The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer is the first book in a series of books about the adventures of Enola Holmes (younger sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes). Enola doesn’t really exist in the series by Arthur Conan Doyle, making this an AU (alternative universe) fan fiction. Hopefully the young readers (who this book is geared towards) become curious enough to check out the classic series after reading this.

This book is an Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery nominee (2007), so I had high expectations. Unfortunately, I found the mystery in The Case of the Missing Marquess quite lacking and not really resolved emotionally. A mother who abandons her 14-year-old daughter, because she is a “free spirit”, is just despicable in my book and this main plot left me a bad taste in the mouth. Moreover, the secondary mystery is really mostly resolved by “convenient” coincidences.

Anyway, *** SPOILER *** the runaway Enola somehow succeeds in passing herself off as a private detective in Victorian-era London in the epilogue. I’m not quite sure how she managed that, given a time jump and lack of explanation. One moment, Enola’s a naive and unworldly teenager out of her depth in London and the next, she has established confident independent alter-ego(s) for herself.

I understand the appeal of a smart, young, rebellious, non-conformist heroine though, and maybe, the movie adaptation starring Millie Bobbie Brown will surprise me. I can certainly see this young actress pulling off the role of a precocious young Victorian girl, and given that she is British in real-life, would give Enola a “british-voice” not really apparent in the book (Enola comes off really American actually) .

RATING: ☆  ☆

The Case of the Missing Marquess (An Enola Holmes Mystery) by Nancy Springer (Puffin Books) is available on Amazon and other bookstores (B&N Nookbook, Kobo books, iBooks, Book Depository)


Indie Saturday – Author Jennifer Becton on her book ‘Caroline Bingley: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice’ @JenniferBecton

November 17, 2012 1 comment

Today, we have author Jennifer Becton featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her second historical novel ‘Caroline Bingley: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice‘ (following the success of her debut novel Charlotte Collins: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice).

Jennifer is the founder of Whiteley Press, an independent publishing house, and has also written the six-book Southern Fraud Thriller Series under the pseudo-pseudonym of J. W. Becton.

Jennifer Becton writes :

Top 5 Reasons Caroline Bingley Is a Great Character for a Sequel

I hear what you’re thinking: Caroline Bingley as the hero of her own Pride and Prejudice sequel? Jennifer, what are you smoking? She’s horrible! Just think of what she said to Elizabeth and how she treated Jane. Why should anyone want to read a book about her?

Well, I’ll tell you my top 5 reasons for deciding to write about dear, sweet Caroline, and you can decide if you want to read a book about her.

5. Caroline speaks her mind. Sure, she may not always say the nicest things, but at least she is willing to make her opinions known. In Elizabeth Bennet, we find pert opinions to be a benefit. In Caroline, not so much. Caroline was happy to speak negatively of the Bennet’s vulgar relations and on many other similar subjects of decorum and dress, but in reality, her opinions on wealth and status were not dissimilar to those held by many people in the Regency period. She was an outspoken product of her time and social influences.

4. Caroline is funny. Consider her attempts to woo Mr. Darcy while he demonstrates his letter-writing prowess: “You write uncommonly fast,” “I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend one for you. I mend pens remarkably well,” and “Do you always write such charming long letters to [Georgiana], Mr. Darcy?” (Austen, P&P, ch. 10). Okay, so she may not be intentionally funny, but that is comic gold!

3. Caroline is complex. Caroline is “of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on [her memory] than that [her] brother’s fortune and [her] own had been acquired by trade” (Austen, P&P, ch. 4). Caroline has a secret. She is a wannabe. She may have money, but it was not gained through socially acceptable channels, and she is trying to hide her lowly past. That’s conflict and it makes for good reading and interesting character development.

2. Caroline is flawed. Mr. Darcy and Caroline were very much alike when they were introduced in Pride and Prejudice: “Darcy was continually giving offense,” and he said many unkind things about Elizabeth’s family and relations. He even participated in the plan to separate Jane and Bingley. However, he mended his ways. Caroline did many of the same things, but she never saw the error of her ways. Caroline has lots of room to grow and overcome her flaws just as Darcy did.

1. Caroline doesn’t mess around. She acts. She may not always do the right thing, but at least she is doing something. She does what she believes is best for her family. There is no dithering or whining. She sees a need and she acts upon it. That is just what we love in a heroine.

So Caroline Bingley may not be the most obvious choice for a heroine, especially because her goals in Pride and Prejudice were in direct conflict with Elizabeth’s. She was the antagonist, but not a true villainess who was out plotting her opponent’s destruction. She just wanted what she wanted, and she tried to make her desires come to fruition. She failed in all ways.

Did Caroline learn from her mistakes? Did she end up marrying a stuffy, old aristocrat? Or did she learn the joys of love?

If you’d like to read a free sample of Caroline Bingley, please visit Scribd (Also embedded below). Caroline is available in ebook and paperback formats at Amazon and in paperback at BN and other online retailers.

Also, please visit Jennifer Becton on her website:, Facebook and Twitter.

You can also check out Jennifer Becton’s Amazon Author’s page for more info and check out her other books!


Do you want to be a featured ‘Indie Saturday’ author too? Go here for more info!

Read an embedded sample of “Caroline Bingley: A Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” after the jump!

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Book Review – Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

August 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

Book Description:

Screenwriter of Tim Burton’s ‘Dark Shadows‘ and bestselling author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith rewrites history to retell the truly remarkable story of the Nativity’s ‘Three Wise Men’…

It’s one of the most iconic vignettes in history: three men on camels, arriving at a manger, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. An impossibly bright star is suspended in the vast desert sky above. It’s a moment of serenity and grace. A holy night…

But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity? The Bible says little about this enigmatic trio. Not even their names are mentioned. The historical record is vague at best. How do we know that they were three kings from the East? What if they were petty, murderous thieves – led by a mercurial individual called Balthazar – on the run, escaping through Judea under cover of night who stumble upon the famous manger, its newborn child and his earthly parents?

Here, the brilliant and slightly warped mind behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes a little mystery, plays fast and loose with a bit of history to weave an epic tale. It’s an adventure that will see these thieves fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament, cross paths with historical figures such as Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist, and deliver the family – as the Bible tells us – to the safety of Egypt. Indeed, this may just be the greatest story never told…


Maybe it was the cartoonish book cover – but for whatever reason, I expected Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith to be a satire (something like Pratchett & Gaiman’s funny take on the Book of Revelations with Good Omens). On thinking it over, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by how Serious Business Unholy Night is. I’d read his previous book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter after all (which had also surprised me by it’s overall serious tone).

This time around, Seth Grahame-Smith applies his unique revisionist twist on that most sacred (and beloved) of biblical stories – the Christmas Story itself. From the birth of Christ, the coming of the Three Wise Men, Herod’s slaughter of innocent babies, Mary, Joseph & Jesus’ escape into Egypt… it’s all there, but with a horror twist. Instead of Wise Men, the trio are criminal thieves and murderers, and far from being a reverential recounting of the familiar story, be sure to expect an extra heavy dose of blood, gore, sex, torture, graphic violence, and yes, even undead rising from their graves. Note: If that short description has already offended you to your core, don’t pick up the book! You will hate it, call it blasphemous and depraved. Promise.

As for me, I confess that I did have some qualms while reading – I wasn’t so sure that I was completely okay with this ultra-violent mayhem way of retelling the Christmas Story. There’s parts that were really hard for me to read through (for example:  the descriptions of the violent murders of children and babies).  I could also have happily gone without any of the additional (and IMO  unnecessary) chapters offering the POV’s of King Herod (why did we need to witness him raping a child for example?) or Pontius Pilate or a fictional evil/dark Magi who added confusing subplots to the story.

So, what did I like from Unholy Night? I actually liked Grahame-Smith’s twist of turning the Wise Men into fugitive criminals who go against their *better* nature and risk themselves to save Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The best was the character of Balthazar who undergoes a dramatic personal journey (his personal obsession with revenge vs letting go and living his life) that I think many can identify with. I ended up liking Balthazar a  whole lot, and wished that the whole story had been told entirely from Balthazar’s POV. To be honest, the only reason I read to the end was because I wanted to find out what happened to him.

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith (Grand Central Publishing) is available on Amazon in Kindle, Hardcover and Audible Audio editions. *Also available on Amazon UK.

The eBook is also available on B&N, Apple iBooks, and Kobo books

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Indie Saturday – Author Sandi Rog on “The Master’s Wall (Iron & the Stone)”

April 21, 2012 25 comments

Today, we have author Sandi Rog featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her award-winning historical Christian fiction book “The Master’s Wall” from her Iron & the Stone series (Available on Amazon). Sandi’s stories feature strong characters who struggle to overcome trials with the help of their faith.

Sandi Rog writes :

Thank you for inviting me here today! I’m honored that you want me to talk about my book The Master’s Wall.

Here’s a book jacket copy, so readers can know what it’s about::

He fights for his freedom. She fights for her life. Together, they fight for each other.

After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master’s granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.


I have to be honest. I’ve been struggling with what to share today. I don’t know if anyone here is aware that I’ve been battling cancer for over a year. On the very day this book was released, I was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoma. I underwent several rounds of intense chemo and radiation, followed by a stem cell transplant, but the cancer doesn’t want to go away. I just got news on April 9th (after being told I was in remission at the end of December) that the cancer is back. It’s been a rough road, fighting cancer and trying to market my book. But, I can tell you, everyone at the hospital has a bookmark, and several have even bought it. 🙂

I wrote The Master’s Wall (and Yahshua’s Bridge, which is the second book in this IRON AND THE STONE series), with the hopes of encouraging people who have to endure challenges in this life. In fact, the second book is dedicated to those who suffer. Little did I know, I’d have to practice what I preached. Oh, don’t worry. The book isn’t preachy. That was another reason I wrote it. I wanted a good Christian story without having to wade through numerous sermons.

In The Master’s Wall I wanted to show the faith of a young man who has to overcome difficult situations in his life. After all, every one of us faces trials. I want folks to see what it’s like to be an overcomer. My characters aren’t perfect by any means, and they have to not only overcome the enemies and circumstances around them, but their own mistakes. I want my characters to be honest, to be real. When I say honest, I don’t mean that my characters don’t lie. What I mean by that is their reactions, motivations, etc, won’t lie to you, the reader. I want my readers to see a part of themselves in my characters.

David is very serious and controlled, and Alethea anything but, or her seriousness is so dramatized, one can’t help but either be shocked or laugh. David has a hard time forgiving (which we’ll see foreshadows of in the first book, but it especially comes out in the second book Yahshua’s Bridge).

There’s a piece of myself in all my characters. Even the bad guys. My bad guy in this story (the grandfather) is a bit insane and arrogant. David is hot tempered, but has a passion to please God. Alethea is carefree and foolish, but at the same time shrewd, especially when it comes to saving her own hide.

I don’t tell my characters what to do, I let them tell me (not that plotting is a bad thing; even plotters listen to their characters). One thing I can’t stand in Christian fiction is pious characters who act perfectly under every circumstance. I can’t relate to that at all, and I don’t think most readers can, either. In Yahshua’s Bridge, the second book to this series, my main character, David, comes in contact with a man who took his parents away in the first chapter of The Master’s Wall. This man practically raped David’s mother right in front of him, and as an adult David is expected to accept this same man as his brother in Christ. The man has repented, and he admits to his past faults, but David can’t forgive him, and even tries to kill him. To me, that’s real. That’s honest. I love delving into that kind of controversy because I believe it’s something we face every day, hopefully in most cases on a smaller level, but ultimately still the same. When someone harms us or someone we love and then asks for forgiveness, how easy is it to really forgive?

I hope my readers will not only be thoroughly entertained, but be encouraged and inspired in their faith after reading The Master’s Wall. Ultimately, I want this story to lead readers to God’s word, to compel them to search the Scriptures, to find out if what a character says is true. After all, that’s what the Bereans did, they examined the Scriptures daily to see if what the apostles taught was true, and because of that, they were considered noble-minded.

Sandi Rog is an award winning author, her debut novel The Master’s Wall winning the 2011 Christian Small Publisher’s Book of the Year Award. Her second book Yahshua’s Bridge just won the 2012 CSPA book of the year award. She lived in Holland for thirteen years and now lives in Colorado with her husband, four children, a cat, and too many spiders.

The Master’s Wall (Iron & the Stone) by Sandi Rog is available at Amazon in Kindle format. She also has two other books out: Yahshua’s Bridge (Iron and the Stone 2) and Walks Alone.

To learn more about Sandi Rog, follow Sandi on her website: Sandi Rog, Twitter: @sandirog, Facebook: sandi.rog or her Facebook author page. Marlene also blogs at Drop by and say hi!


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Indie Saturday – Author Marlene Dotterer on “The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder”

March 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, we have author Marlene Dotterer featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her science fiction-themed time travel historical novel “The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder” (Available on Amazon). It’s the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking, and everybody is still fascinated with the tragedy.

Look for the second book in the Time Travel Journals series: Bridgebuilders. Available this Fall.

Author Marlene Dotterer writes about ‘The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder’ and on Titanic as the Ship of Dreams…:

As you read this, I am on the vacation of a lifetime, and I owe it all to my book.

Not because my book has brought me millions. It has yet to pay its legal fees for negotiation of contracts that subsequently fell through.

So how did my book lead to two weeks in Ireland and England, then twelve more days on one of the most special cruises of the century?

Therein lies a tale…

When I decided to write a time travel novel about Thomas Andrews, the much-loved builder of the Titanic, I needed to do a lot of research. I didn’t know anything about shipbuilding. All I knew of Titanic, I learned in James Cameron’s movie. In fact, that was my starting point, so I knew that Titanic was built in Ireland, and that Thomas Andrews was Irish.

This was icing on the cake for me, since I’m a devoted hibernophile. Now I could read about Ireland and call it research.

Marlene Dotterer

All along, I wanted my book to be available for Titanic’s one hundredth anniversary in 2012. If Thomas Andrews lost his life (far too soon) on that dreadful night in April 1912, then perhaps I could provide a second chance for him one hundred years later. In my novel, he meets time travelers from the 21st century, a few years before he starts building Titanic. They tell him what happens, and the three of them work together to change history.

I can’t tell you how it all comes out – that would be cheating. But researching and writing the novel gave me a deep respect for Titanic, the men who built her, and for the passengers and crew of her maiden voyage.

So three years ago, when I learned about the Titanic Memorial Cruise, I desperately wanted to be on it. I half-heartedly mentioned it to my husband, never expecting to be able to go, because of the cost. But to my surprise, he was receptive to the idea. We talked about it for a while, decided we had three years in which to pay it off, and why not go?

So we booked a cabin. Just like that.

I have The Best Husband in the World.

Since we had to go to England to meet the ship, we added several days to our itinerary so we could explore the country. Then we added a couple of days in Belfast, so we could tour the shipyard where Titanic was built, and see the house that Thomas Andrews lived in.

That is where we are, RIGHT NOW!

I almost wish I was the squealing type, because that’s what I feel like doing. Obviously, I’m writing this in advance, so you’re getting my pre-trip jitters. But if you stop by my blog, you just might find an entry or two about what we’ve done so far. Keep checking back, too, because I’ll post during the cruise, and after the memorial service at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, out on the North Atlantic, directly above the site where Titanic now rests.

There are a lot of good books, fiction and non-, about Titanic. Mine is one of the few science fiction-themed books, although time travel and Titanic seem to go together like wine and cheese. Everyone thinks about going back to warn the captain, or wonders what would I do if I were there? There’s certainly a bit of that going on in Shipbuilder.

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder is about more than just Titanic. It’s about the kind of man that Thomas Andrews was, about his family, and his world. Like all fiction, it’s a dramatization, and some of it is simply made up, since unfortunately, there were no time travelers to warn anyone back in 1906.

Just imagine: what would you do, if you went back in time and met Thomas Andrews?

Here is a short description of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder:

Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.

Now imagine being there before she’s even built.

Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?
To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future? Or should they let him die?

The construction of White Star Line’s Olympic-class ships forms the backdrop for a passionate love affair between Tom and Casey, who must overcome the many differences inherent between an Edwardian Irish gentleman, and a member of America’s Generation Y. The fictional love affair grows alongside real lives from history: the Andrews family of Comber, Lord William Pirrie, Bruce Ismay, and the thousands of skilled men who built the remarkable ocean liners of the early twentieth century.

Born in Tucson, Arizona, Marlene Dotterer lived there until the day she loaded her five children into her station wagon, and drove north-west to the San Francisco Bay Area. Since then, she has earned a degree in geology, worked in nuclear waste, run her own business as a personal chef, and now teaches natural childbirth classes. She writes, “to silence the voices,” obsessed with the possibilities of other worlds and other times.

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder by Marlene Dotterer is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats. The ebook is also available on Smashwords. You can also order it through your local bookstore.

To learn more about Marlene Dotterer, follow Marlene on Twitter: @marlenedotterer, Facebook: marlenedotterer or Goodreads. Marlene also blogs at Drop by and say hi!


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Indie Saturday – Author C.M. Gray on “Shadowland: A Tale from the Dark Ages”

March 24, 2012 1 comment

Today, we have author C.M. Gray featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for his Historical Fantasy novel “Shadowland: A Tale from the Dark Ages” (Available on Amazon). Set in Britain’s Dark Ages, C.M. Gray adds his own spin to one of Britain’s enduring myths about a “true and only king”.

Author C.M. Gray writes about ‘Shadowland: A Tale from the Dark Ages’:

Hi, my name is Chris Gray and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce you to my writing and my book, Shadowland.

Here is a short description:

‘I have lived more years than I can remember, probably more than the sum of all your years combined. Kings have called me friend and brigands have sworn to burn the flesh from my bones even if they have to search all seven halls of the shadowland to find me.’

On the night of midwinter’s eve, a storyteller takes his listeners back to the Dark ages and a tale from his youth.

Deserted by its Roman masters, Britain has been invaded by the Saxons at the invitation of Vortigern, traitorous leader of the Britons. Now, as the tribes unite to reclaim their land, one man must rise to lead them and become their true and only king.


I have been an avid reader from an early age, consuming books from a diverse range of genres from spirituality to adventure and for a long time I read a lot of fantasy. I’m currently a huge fan of Bernard Cornwall, Manda Scott and her Boudica series and right now, I’m reading Robert Lyndon’s Hawk Quest, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. All the latest authors I’m reading write fiction based upon a historical theme, and I love that. Like echoes from the past, we get to live for a brief moment with characters from legend and breathe the air of times gone by.

Shadowland was born from all this love of reading and travelling. It mixes an interesting time in history, with a little legend, a few druids, and a big glob of fantasy! It is written for both Young Adult and adult readers.

Set in a period of Britain’s history, aptly named the dark ages because there is so little written record of the times, I attempt to fill some of the gaps that history has presented me with a story that precedes one of the greatest of British legends. I won’t spoil it by saying which legend but you will all be familiar with the legend we’re talking about.

It begins with an old storyteller weaving a tale from his youth, one midwinter’s eve and tells of a time when the Romans are finally departing Britain, recalled to defend a crumbling empire. They leave a rich and fertile Island, fractured amongst the tribes without any united leadership as Saxon invaders are arriving in fleets to ravage through the land.

These are dangerous uncertain times and when disaster strikes the lives of two young boys, Usher Vance and Calvador Craen, they set upon a journey that will not only change them both but alter the course of Britain forever.

Today I present you with Shadowland and hope you will give it a try … and that you like it. If you do, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you:)

Shadowland is actually the third book I’ve written but the first I have published and made available on Amazon Kindle. I do have plans for two other books to be uploaded over the next few months; the next will be The Flight of the Griffin, which follows the lives of four boys who live on an old boat name ‘The Griffin.’ The story is set in a fantasy world where the boys become the unlikely heroes at the end of time after a burglary sets them on the path to finish the ‘Last Great Spell’ – a spell to stop the balance of the world tipping into chaos … They become the Magician, Thief, Priest and Fighter as a magical book guides them upon a quest, pitting them against magic, demons and ‘The Hawk,’ an evil hunter of men. It is a race against time to unite three crystal skulls while all the forces of chaos try everything to stop them! I will then upload Chaos Storm later in the year which is the sequel to The Flight of the Griffin.

I am an Englishman, but I’ve lived outside of the UK for far more years than I ever lived there. I spent several years in Israel on a kibbutz, then in India where I just travelled around marvelling at that incredible country. I then spent many years in Asia before returning to Europe and settling firstly in Holland, then France, and now finally in Barcelona Spain, where I live with my Dutch born wife Hulya and our two children, Dylan aged eleven and Yasmin who is now six.

Shadowland: A Tale from the Dark Ages by C.M. Gray is available at Amazon in Kindle format.

To learn more about C.M. Gray, go to C.M.Gray’s Blog or follow C.M. Gray on Twitter: @cgray129. Drop by and say hi!


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Do you want to be a featured ‘Indie Saturday’ author too? Go here for more info!

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Indie Saturday – Author J. S. Dunn on “Bending the Boyne: A Novel of Ancient Ireland”

March 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, we have author J. S. Dunn featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for the historical novel “Bending the Boyne: A Novel of Ancient Ireland” (Available on Amazon). Awarded first place in the Next Generation Indie Awards 2011 (USA), J.S. Dunn brings the Bronze Age to life in this tale of the Gaelic invasion of early Ireland that seamlessly brings pre-historical Europe, Irish mythologies,  cult heroes, and archaeo-astronomy together.

Author J. S. Dunn writes about ‘Bending the Boyne: A Novel of Ancient Ireland’:

Fresh Eire!  Thank you for inviting me to post on the ideas behind Bending The Boyne!

Here is a short description:

2200 BCE: Changes rocking the Continent reach Eire with the dawning Bronze Age. Well before any Celts, marauders invade the island seeking copper and gold. The young astronomer Boann and the enigmatic Cian need all their wits and courage to save their people and their great Boyne mounds, when long bronze knives challenge the peaceful native starwatchers. Tensions on Eire between new and old cultures and between Boann, Elcmar, and her son Aengus, ultimately explode. What emerges from the rubble of battle are the legends of Ireland’s beginnings in a totally new light.

Larger than myth, this tale echoes with medieval texts, and cult heroes modern and ancient. By the final temporal twist, factual prehistory is bending into images of leprechauns who guard Eire’s gold for eternity. As ever, the victors will spin the myths.

Polski: Newgrange English: Newgrange

Image via Wikipedia

The Boyne passage mounds in Ireland are older than the Pyramids, and Stonehenge. How did these great mounds fall into disuse?

Reading a novel set in such a remote era can be a challenge. I hope to make the early Bronze Age accessible to modern readers, like Jean Auel did for the stone age in her Clan Of The Cave Bear series. Some of the info below will seem strange, or not suited to the squeamish!

Drastic changes arrive in Eire at 2200 BCE when gold-seeking marauders arrive. Figures from Ireland’s earliest myths, Boann and her son Aengus, the Dagda, Oghma, and others, struggle with these changes. This story also riffs on the riddle of who fathered Aengus, as found in the original lines:

“…They made the sun stand still to the end of nine months / strange the tale…”

That has to be the first version of modern Who’s Your Daddy? celebrity gossip.

English: This is the entrance to the Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange in Boyne Valley, Ireland. The top entrance, or 'roof box' entrance, is for the sun.

Image via Wikipedia

The very notion of being a celebrity or warrior-hero probably arose at this time, the late third millennium BCE, as shown by a big change in burials from cremation and mass deposits of bone and ashes to individual burials in cists, usually males, buried with prestige objects like copper daggers and gold jewelry. The hero-worship era displaced worship of ancestors.

And what did the hero Elcmar do with that white horse? Certain grisly aspects of the hero-making of Elcmar, the Invaders’ champion, have been glossed over by all but a few academics (and some passages of Finnegans Wake) but yes, that ceremony is thought to have involved carnal union with a white horse. The union was to ensure the land’s fertility. In later times, the horse was dismembered and put into a great cauldron that the “king” climbed into to soak in the poor dead beast’s blood. In still later times during the Iron Age, a bad leader was ritually tortured and killed. Bending The Boyne draws stark contrast between native Starwatchers and the Invaders rather than overemphasize the strangest practices of the Bronze Age.

For astronomy buffs, this tale of ancient Ireland offers intrigue. How did these ancients perceive the workings of the solar system? The characters themselves can be thought of as elements of the solar system, the sun and orbs (: Boann is the Milky Way, Aengus the reborn sun at solstice). Did these people really know about equinoctial precession?

As the poet Yeats might say, set your head on fire. The reader looking for references to Irish literature and politics can find dozens. Many loaded words and phrases are embedded in the story: beyond the Pale, the Liberties (of Dublin), the Ascendancy, and Transportation, to name a few. The reader brings a certain perspective to how he or she interprets the past, as does the author. The references to later Irish culture remind that our own history will later be reinterpreted, rewritten.

As the centennial of Ireland’s Rising approaches in 2016, this novel offers a new perspective on the unending Troubles for one notable island — of which the English were only the latest incarnation in a very long series of invaders.

The reader may find the maps in the front matter, and the Glossary of names and author’s note, to be useful. The author’s website,, contains reading group questions, and web links to find photos and interesting information about the objects and places depicted in Bending The Boyne.

The Wall page on Facebook has updates, fan comments – join the 1,650+ fans! – and Irish archaeology news : .

More on the new concepts about early “Celts” and the origin of the Gaelic language can be found in Celtic From The West (Cunliffe and Koch, editors, 2010, Oxford Press).

Best to all on this St. Patrick’s Day,


J. S. Dunn 

Bending the Boyne: A Novel of Ancient Ireland by J. S. Dunn (Seriously Good Books LLC) is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats.


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Indie Saturday – Author Michelle Isenhoff on “The Color of Freedom”

March 10, 2012 5 comments

Today, we have author Michelle Isenhoff featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for her YA Historical Fiction “The Color of Freedom” (Available on Amazon). Michelle believes that “the best way to teach history to children is to make it come alive“. Let’s see the American Revolution through 14-year-old Meadow’s eyes!

Author Michelle Isenhoff writes about ‘The Color of Freedom’:

The Color of Freedom was born out of a visit to Boston, Lexington and Concord, and the Bunker Hill monument and a desire to see kids grasp the importance of the American Revolution. I guess that’s the teacher coming out in me. But really, what better way is there to teach history than to disguise it in a captivating story?

Fourteen-year-old Meadow Wynn McKenzie hates the British. Turned off her Irish farm and forced to book passage to America as an indentured servant, she understands why the rebels wish to throw off the yoke of King George’s rule. But is freedom worth the cost? Defying the most powerful nation on earth is like handing an invitation to Death.

Then, forced to flee her master, Meadow disguises herself as a boy and journeys toward Boston to reunite with her father. She’s moved by the courage, pride and determination of the American patriots, but their Puritan roots run deep. Before she can embrace the cause of her new homeland, Meadow must carefully consider a future amongst Puritan hatred for her Catholic beliefs. Would liberty apply to Irish, to Negroes, to Quakers, to Jews, to Catholics? Or would that slogan be cast aside when majority rule served the majority? Perhaps the colonists had simply invented a new kind of tyranny.

In Meadow, I created a female lead who’s frightened and indecisive, as I suspect so many colonists actually were. I didn’t want her to seem too strong or too modern, but she’s a heroine young readers can connect with and rally behind. She bears up well, and her circumstances push her toward maturity. By becoming emotionally involved in her story, I hope today’s kids can get a glimpse of what it meant to live through the Revolution, and perhaps they’ll gain some understanding of how it’s shaped the present.

“I became a teacher, in part, because I never outgrew the fantastic stories in the children’s genre. When I quit teaching to raise a family and try my hand at a novel, I knew it would have to be for kids. The Color of Freedom was the result. I have since written a trilogy of tween Civil War fiction (the last is due out this summer) and two tween fantasies (the second is due out this fall). I make study guides available on my website to help teachers get the most mileage out of my books. When I’m not writing, homeschooling, chauffeuring children, blogging or reading, I like to garden and take road trips with my family (not necessarily at the same time).”

The Color of Freedom by Michelle Isenhoff is available at Amazon in Kindle format. The ebook is also available on B&N. You can check out her Amazon author page or her website ( for a list of all her books. You can also find Michelle Isenhoff’s books on Barnes & Noble.

To learn more about Michelle Isenhoff, go to or follow Michelle on Twitter: @middlereaders or Facebook: Michelle also blogs at Bookworm Blather. Drop by and say hi!


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Read an embedded sample of “The Color of Freedom” after the jump!

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