Tag Archives: Blog Tour

Caligula (The Damned Emperors) by Simon Turney – Review

Title – Caligula (The Damned Emperors)
Author – Simon Turney
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 480 Pages
Publication – 8th March 2018
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows his name. Everyone thinks they know his story.

Rome 37AD. The emperor is dying. No-one knows how long he has left. The power struggle has begun.

When the ailing Tiberius thrusts Caligula’s family into the imperial succession in a bid to restore order, he will change the fate of the empire and create one of history’s most infamous tyrants, Caligula.
But was he really a monster?

Forget everything you think you know. Let Livilla, Caligula’s youngest sister and confidante, tell you what really happened. How her quiet, caring brother became the most powerful man on earth. And how, with lies, murder and betrayal, Rome was changed for ever . . .

Review

Caligula is a very different book than I expected from Turney, it shows his true skill at storytelling to continually grow as an author and to keep churning out hit after hit even when moving away from his normal style of writing.

This story is told from the eyes of Livilla, Caligula’s sister. This gave the tale a real emotional feel and I easily formed a connection with her. This is the history I like.. not a text book..I need it to feel real.

The tale of Caligula is a dark one..he’s been watching is back for years..he’s learnt in that time how to play the great game but as we learn of the constant death and betrayal in his life we see him slowly loose his humanity and he becomes the tyrant we know.

What the author does well is building that connection with the characters, especially Caligula. You feel sorry for him..he just doesn’t know who he can trust so in the end he loses control and simply removes anyone who may be a threat..be it real or perceived.

It’s a real tale of how power can corrupt and warp even those with the best intentions and that when pushed to the limit what would you do to survive?

Truly a magnificent read, insightful¸ powerful, emotional and gripping from the start. This is unlike any book on Caligula you’ve read before..it challenges our preconceived views and the tale will certainly stick with you.

How much do I enjoy Turney’s work? Well I own a hardback copy and a kindle version of Caligula plus I bought a copy for my dads birthday..If me buying 3 copies can’t even convince you to buy one then I don’t know what will! 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Blog Tour – Warrior of Woden by Matthew Harffy.

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for Warrior of Woden. Book 5 of The Bernicia Chronicles by Matthew Harffy.

Here’s the blurb

Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 596 Pages
Publication – 1st April
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Oswald has reigned over Northumbria for eight years and Beobrand has led the king 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 once 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 Oswald there is much more at stake than sovereignty. This is a battle for the very souls of the people of Albion.

The tour has already started so you can check out the previous stops here :-

Historical Fiction Reviews

History… The Interesting Bits!

Review

I’m going to be honest from the start..this book killed me..my heart feels as shattered as Beobrand’s. So much happens in this book not only to excite you but also to crush you.

This series continues to go from strength to strength and it shows real skill by the author to keep the series going with such exciting plots.

So what is in store this time for Beo? Well war is fast approaching and Oswald must march to stop Penda’s advance.

Lets just say things don’t go the way Beo would like but he does get to show what he’s made of and he certainly makes sure the enemy remember his name.

What this tale really does well is show the growth of Beobrand. He’s older now.. his connection with men stronger but as the book goes on you can really see how events have taken a toll on Beo. He’s tired of this life but peace seems to be something he will never know.

I really enjoyed the addition was ÁstÍgend. I won’t spoil it for you but he stole the show for me, his character shining above others easily.

I also loved the development of Cynan the once thrall who really shows his worth to his lord and there’s a little side story with him that plays out that really give him some depth.

Ok so let’s get down to it..yeh this author holds no favourites and characters will die.. and you know it isn’t going to be pretty. It hit me hard this time..it was a death I didn’t see coming although I knew it could always happen to anyone. The great thing about Harffy is how he uses death to build on the emotional side of his characters which helps you form a  connection with them.

Another cracking tale that really knocks you for six. Brutal has always been my word of choice for The Bernicia Chronicles and I stand by that.

 

Follow to tour :- (Links will be added when posts go live)

What Cathy Read Next – 19th April

The Secret World of a Book Blogger – 20th April

Jemahl Evans – 21st April

Parmenion Books – 22nd April

Author bio

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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.

Links to buy

 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2I4PeTA

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Gf2V1P

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2umk5ZO

iBooks: https://apple.co/2G7vhyW

 

Follow Matthew Harffy

 

Website: http://www.matthewharffy.com/

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: @Matthew Harffy

 

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Facebook: @ariafiction

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

NetGalley: http://bit.ly/2lkKB0e

Sign up to the Aria newsletter: http://bit.ly/2jQxVtV

 

Blog Tour – Doomed Destroyer by Ron Cope

Today is my stop of the blog tour for Doomed Destroyer by author Ron Cope. Here’s the blurb ;-

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Genre – Military / Maritime Archaeology
Length – 560
Publication – 10 April 2018

Synopsis

On March 1st 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered Operation Weserubung: the invasion of Norway. Having swept across Europe, the Nazi assault on Scandinavia was designed to secure the valuable iron ore being delivered by rail from Sweden to the Norwegian port of Narvik. To complete the task, Hitler sent ten large destroyers, with 220 Alpine Troops on each. Five smaller British H Class destroyers were sent up the fjord in retaliation, with little knowledge of what to expect. On April 10th , the first British battle of Narvik began in earnest. Royal Naval Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee led his flotilla at midnight into the fjord; undetected, under darkness and in driving snow storms. The harbour erupted into a torpedo attack; back into the fjord, the destroyers Hardy, Hunter, Hotspur, Havock and Hostilewere confronted by five German destroyers. A ferocious sea battle ensued and Hardy and Hunter were lost.

In his first account of The Battle of Narvick, Attack at Dawn, Ron Cope focussed on the experience and the survival of the crew of HMS Hardy. After nine long years of research, he now reveals for the first time the untold story of HMS Hunter and her crew. Just forty-eight of the 159 servicemen on board survived in the cold waters of the fjord; picked up by German destroyers, they were eventually forced to march in freezing conditions over the mountains into internment in Sweden. Before the handover to the Swedish authorities, a German Army officer made the British servicemen sign a form: “On my being sent into Sweden I will not take up arms against Germany… Should I do so, and in the event of again being taken prisoner I shall be subject to such conditions as are provided under the Death Penalty Act”.

Doomed Destroyer follows the astounding stories of the Hunter sailors, who would spend the next five years plotting and attempting to escape their captivity. Cope provides an extensive account of the viciously fought events at sea and in the fjords, examining the Norwegian price paid at Narvik and the early impact of war on the local community’s simple way of life. A remarkable account delivered with care and respect for those lost and left behind, Doomed Destroyer shines a light on this important but previously little known event in British history.

“Without dedicated men like Ron Cope, the testimony and the stories of the men who were there – whether they were lost, wounded, or survived – what became of them, their families, might otherwise be lost to future generations.” Percy C. Danby, Lieutenant (E), C.D. RCN Retired. Ottawa. March 2017, survivor on HMS Hotspur.

Review

Doomed destroyer is a meaty read to say the least at 560 pages but it’s packed full first-person accounts that recount events that give a fascinating insight into the lives of the servicemen who signed up to protect their country.

For any fan of maritime history I’m sure they would love the detail in which the author goes..shining a light the not only events that impact a whole crew but also smaller events that might have otherwise been overlooked.

At times I felt a bit overwhelmed with the detail as it’s fired at you at such a pace it can be hard to take it all in but overall the book does exactly what you’d expected and gives the reader real insights into a life many of us could never imagine.

The author clearly researched the book well and that’s evident with the numerous first-hand accounts he draws on which helps the book as you feel it has a real connection with those who stories are being told rather than just a plain old history text-book.

Personally I would have liked the book broke down a bit more to give a layman more manageable chunks of info with  time to stop and reflect but overall at 560 pages it’s a fact filled book that really does help bring these brave individuals to life. History books often take away the human edge of a tale for me and its books like this that ensure that connection isn’t lost in time.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

About the author: Born in Salford, Ron Cope followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Royal Navy in 1964, working in electronics. After leaving the forces in 1986, he spent over twenty years working in the probation service, specifically with young offenders. Now a proud father and  grandfather, Cope is retired and living with his wife Alison in Telford, Shropshire. His first naval history book Attack at Dawn: Reliving the First Battle of Narvik in World War Two was published to acclaim back in 2015.

My thanks go to Authoright and the author for a chance to read/review the book in exchange for my honest review. 

Pendle Fire by Paul Southern (@psouthernauthor) – Blog Blitz

B L O G B L I T Z

Today I’m taking part in the blog blitz for the Pendle Fire the new release by Paul Southern, here’s the blurb –

Title – Pendle Fire
Author – Paul Southern
Genre – Thriller
Length – 256 Pages
Publication – 1st April 2018
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Social worker Johnny Malkin is battling a crippling workload and a hostile local community. That’s on a good day: things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Two fourteen-year-old girls are found wandering Aitken Wood on the slopes of Pendle Hill, claiming to have been raped by a gang of men. With no female social workers available, Johnny is assigned to their case. But what, at first, looks like yet another incident of child exploitation takes a sinister turn when the girls start speaking of a forthcoming apocalypse.

When Johnny interviews one of the girls, Jenna Dunham, her story starts to unravel. His investigation draws him into a tight-knit village community in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where whispers of witchcraft and child abuse go back to the Middle Ages.

One name recurs: The Hobbledy Man. Is he responsible for the outbreaks of violence sweeping across the country?

Is he more than just myth?

Review

Pendle Fire is a thriller with a supernatural edge and at every turn you are left wondering who or what is causing all the violence. Is this myth from the past real or is there somethings else afoot?

The book follows two main characters PC Shaf and Johnny Malkin. They are both caught up and a whirlwind of violence and mystery and the deeper they go the more confusing it gets for them to separate the truth from fiction.

I’ve reviewed for the author previously and knew from the off that the direction I as a reader would go would be turned on its head.

The story line is very engrossing and tackles some difficult subjects such as grooming with some very detailed accounts at times and while it’s a hard subject to read about it added to the mystery of the tale..for me I was left undecided as to the true culprit(s) of the of the events that played out and I feel the author wrote it this way to engage with the reader..you decide the ending you believe.

I’m all about the flow of a book and the alternating perspectives worked well and kept things fresh adding suspense as the tale progressed.

Overall a fast paced dark and disturbing tale, well written with a decent page count makes this an easy read to get stuck into.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

My thanks go to the author and Bloodhound books for the chance to be part of the tour

Author Bio:

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Paul Southern was born in the 1960s to itinerant parents who moved from city to city. He lived in Liverpool, Belfast, London and Leeds, then escaped to university, where he nearly died of a brain haemorrhage. After an unexpected recovery, he co-formed an underground indie group (Sexus). Made immediate plans to become rich and famous, but ended up in Manchester. Shared a house with mice, cockroaches, and slugs; shared the street with criminals. Five years later, hit the big time with a Warners record deal. Concerts at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Melody Maker front cover, Smash Hits Single of the Week, Radio 1 and EastEnders. Mixed with the really rich and famous. Then mixed with lawyers. Ended up back in Manchester, broke. He got a PhD in English (he is the world’s leading authority on Tennyson’s stage plays!), then wrote his first novel, The Craze, based on his experiences of the Muslim community. He has three other published books and has written for ITV. He was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger award in 2002 and received positive reviews from national and international press, including The Guardian, Arena, Radio 4, Ladsmag, and Kirkus, amongst many others.

Links:

www.paulsouthern.org

https://www.facebook.com/paulsouthernauthor/

https://twitter.com/psouthernauthor

BLOG TOUR – The Silver Wolf by Rob Sinclair – Review

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Today is my stop of the blog tour for Rob Sinclair’s latest release The Silver Wolf, book 3 in the Jame Ryker series. Here’s the blurb –
Genre – Thriller
Length – 371 Pages
Publication – 17th Nov 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Still tormented by the disappearance of his wife, ex-intelligence agent James Ryker sets out on a personal mission of revenge, prepared to go to any lengths in search of the truth.

The trail takes him from the crystal waters of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, back to a place he thought he would never set foot again – his country of birth, England. But there he discovers more than even he bargained for. Stumbling across a terrorist attack targeted against his old employers – the secretive Joint Intelligence Agency -the faint clues to many events in his recent past are all seemingly linked to one mysterious character; The Silver Wolf.

But just who is the Silver Wolf, and why is he hell bent on punishing not just Ryker, but his closest allies at the JIA too?

Has Ryker finally met his match?

Review

We are back with Ryker, he now knows the fate of Lisa and he’s even more determined than ever to make those involved pay no matter the cost.

Ryker used to work for the JIA but not anymore..he’s happy to be a lone wolf on this one but will take any assistance offered if it helps him track down his targets.

While on his personal mission he ends up stumbling upon a much bigger issue and can’t help but be sucked in. His personal mission might not be the same as the JIA’s but while they are of use to him he will continue to do what he does best..cause trouble.

There are some amazing twists to this explosive and gruesome tale..Ryker definitely has a darker edge to him. I must admit this story plays out like a Jason Bourne kind of tale but it’s much more exciting.

The author takes no prisoners.. I’m not going to spoil it but there’s one scene that left speechless and I read it over again a few times thinking – “Oh MY GOD did he really just do that”. Damn it’s good.

The Silver Wolf offers everything you could need in a thriller, it’s dark and heavy hitting which gives it an edge, there’s suspense but plenty of action for the adrenaline junkies, twists all over and I can’t stress enough how amazing the overall plot is.

It was a true pleasure to read, seeing the big picture come together as Ryker but’s the pieces together. The author continues to knocking cracking tales time and time again and delivers every time.

It’s a must read series.

My thanks go to the auhtor and Bloodhound Books for the chance to read/review the book! I sense a paperback copy being ordered for my collection 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Author Bio:
Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series and James Ryker series of espionage thrillers. His books have sold over half a million copies to date with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons

Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past – Review

Title – Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society
Author – Dorita Avila, Anne Aylor, Anna Belfrage, Richard Buxton, Christopher M. Cevasco, Lorna Fergusson, Cj Fosdick, Mari Griffith, Patricia Hilton-Johnson, Lisa Kesteven, Vanessa Lafaye, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, Yvonne Lyon, Jeffrey Manton, Nicky Moxey, S. Pitt, Jasmina Svenne, L C Tyler.
Genre – Historical Fiction/Short /Stories
Length – 171 Pages
Publication – Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Gripping and thought-provoking stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society.

A new anthology of nineteen award-winning and acclaimed historical fiction short stories.

Distant Echoes brings you vivid voices from the past. This haunting anthology explores love and death, family and war. From the chilling consequences of civil and world war, to the poignant fallout from more personal battles, these stories will stay with you long after the last page.

This selection of winning and shortlisted stories from recent Historical Novel Society writing awards includes The House of Wild Beasts by Anne Aylor (winner of the Historical Novel Society Short Story Award 2014), Salt by Lorna Fergusson (winner of the HNSLondon14 Short Story Award) and Fire on the Water by Vanessa Lafaye (winner of the HNSOxford16 Short Story Award).

Review

If I had to pick one word to describe this anthology it would be heart-rending..the tales were all so beautifully raw and emotive. At the end of the book I wasn’t sad as such.. it just knocked the wind from me and brought me back down to earth. My life has been so far relatively pain free..not everyone has been so lucky.

It’s a very personal collection of tales, In very few word you find yourself immersed like the events are playing out right in front of your very eyes. While it might be a quick read I found myself drifting in-between stories, rereading bits, contemplating events in my own life that seem so trivial now. It left a lasting impression.

It’s hard to pick a favourite from the collection but The Happy Island by Christopher M. Cevasco really hit me hard and I won’t forget it any time soon.

I challenge you to read this book and not be touched by it.

A major plus for this book is although this is a collective work by a number of authors it all fits together nicely. While the stories differ in setting the tone filters throughout the book to make it an easy flowing read.

It’s a touching collection of thought-provoking tales that I highly recommend.

I was lucky enough to be given an ARC copy of the book by Corazon Books to read but how could I read this and not buy my own copy..for me it was worth every penny.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

10 Questions with Alison Morton.

Today I’m very glad to bring to you a Q&A with Alison Morton, author of the Roma Nova series.

You can read my reviews of Aurelia and Insurrectio by clicking the images below to open a new window.

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One of the biggest things I’ve enjoyed about the series is that it turns the traditional and outdated idea of social structure on its head.

I hope you enjoy the questions, do let me know your thoughts 🙂

P.S look out for my review of Retalio book 6 in the series soon!


 

Q1 – For anyone who’s read my reviews of your works I’m sure they will know how much I’ve enjoyed reading them but for anyone new what would you say to convince them to give your books a try?

You don’t believe in starting with an easy one, do you, David?  😉

Seriously, I try to provide a cracking story and provoke a few questions along the way. Yes, my books are thrillers, but without dripping body parts and with a different take on what might have happened at the end of the Roman Empire.

I enjoy a good twist when I read, so I like to put a few of those in my own books, but of course, all good reads are not only about the story, but equally about characters. We love to gasp with horror, feel that frisson of fear, fall in love and celebrate along with our heroine (or hero).

Q2 – Strong female leads are something I’m starting to see more and more in books and I love it. Did you always set out to write a series that knocks on the head the idea of the male characters being in charge?

In brief, yes! I wanted a female character who led the action and pushed the story through. Too often the woman is the sidekick or the mother/daughter/sister/colleague who waves the hero goodbye as he sets off on his quest, whether in the 4th, 21st or 43rd century. Virginia Woolf wrote in 1929 about fictitious women, “But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men.” So it’s nothing new!

A little secret: if I find myself slipping back into the action man/passive woman trap when writing, I reverse the dialogue to make sure my heroine is making the decisions!  But it doesn’t make Roma Novan men any less masculine or tough. (I explain it all here.)

Q3 – Your idea of alternative history and that the fall of Rome didn’t mean the end of Roman culture opens up lots of writing possibilities, where did the idea come from?

Several things! I’ve been a ‘Roman nut’ since I walked on my first mosaic at Ampurias in northeast Spain. In fact I’ve clambered over quite a lot of Roman Europe! The idea of a modern Roman heroine has been bubbling away in my head for years.  She would have to be modern as even in Late Antiquity no woman could have a public role, let alone a military one, and Rome was essentially a military society. Then I read Robert Harris’s Fatherland and learnt about alternative timelines and outcomes.Two more neurons connected in the brain!

No fingers were hovering above a keyboard yet, though. Then I saw a really bad film. The cinematography was gorgeous, it was set in modern Rome and it had the enormous bonus of starring Ewan McGregor. (Your women readers will understand the last one better than men, I feel.) However, the dialogue and continuity were rubbish. I knew I could do better. The trigger was pulled. Ninety days later I had a manuscript of 90,000 words. Rubbish, of course, but it went on after much slashing, rewriting and polishing to become INCEPTIO.  The legend of Roma Nova was born.

Q4 – The great thing about the setting of your tales is that you have some leeway with historical accuracy. Was the accuracy in describing the Roma Nova culture important to you?

Absolutely! I have an MA in History which has given me a grounding in being picky about accuracy and sources in a methodological way. I don’t think you can alternate history without knowing it first.

When you choose to diverge from the standard historical timeline, you have to know exactly what the world was like at that point. This is the last solid foothold you have on the historical record. For example, the Roma Nova storyline is that the group of senatorial families who trekked out of Italy at the end of the fourth century to become the first Roma Novans were pagans persecuted by Christian Emperor Theodosius II. This persecution really was taking place at the time (not something we’re taught about). Theodosius signed the final edict outlawing worship of the traditional Roman gods in AD 394; the punishment was death.

Once you have researched that divergence point in time ad nauseam, then you project forwards using historical logical until you reach thelater time when your story is set. It helps to have a general knowledge of ,and a feel for ,history here. If not, research!

In fact, everything has to be checked from technology and attitudes in the 1960s (AURELIA), how to mount a coup d’état, intelligence techniques, warfighting of the 1980s (INSURRECTIO, RETALIO), weaponry, signals, locations and transferable Roman practices for all the books. But I love research. Honestly!

Q5 – How long have you been a writer and what influenced you to first put pen to paper?

I’ve written most of my life, but mostly practical stuff: student theses, government papers, exercise reports, corporate documentation, PR copy, articles, an academic dissertation even. As a trained translator, my work turning foreign language text into English was precise with a touch of creativity in expression, plus I edited at least one million words in that time. Now, making up stories? Ever since childhood. Writing them down? That only started in 2009 with that bad film.

Q6 – Would you contemplate writing a book in any other genre?

Ha! The great Conn Iggulden who endorsed INSURRECTIO gave me a suggestion about that. But I’m not telling at the moment!

Q7 – How important is feedback from your readers?

Very important. I’m not so grand that I don’t read and take notice of my reviews. Of course, they are all subjective, but I’ve gleaned some excellent advice from readers and fans since INCEPTIO was published in 2013.

The Roma Nova Enthusiasts’ Group on Facebook is small but going well, as is my Facebook author page and I always love it when people react to my blogposts (alison-morton.com) or tweets (@alison_morton).

Q8 – Who have been your biggest influences within the writing community?

This is such a difficult question as it changes all the time! Like many Roman writers, my first Roman book was The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. I grew up on a very mixed diet of fiction, swinging from Georgette Heyer, Leslie Charteris’s The Saint to Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise and Dennis Wheatley’s adventure tales.

I adore Gore Vidal’s Julian, and anything by Margaret Attwood and Tom Clancy. These days, Lindsey Davis is a clear favourite along with Steven Saylor, Ruth Downie, William Boyd, J D Robb and of course, Robert Harris.

Q9 – What books are currently on your reading shelf?

Legionary: the Roman Soldier’s (Unofficial) Manual by Philip Matyszak. I’m enjoying it tremendously. I’m ex-military myself, so it’s raising a few smiles.

Q10 – Future plans? More books I hope J

More books, certainly!  I’ve just completed a novella featuring Carina and set between INCEPTIO and PERFIDITAS. Perhaps I’ll write more ‘inbetweeners’ or a collection of short stories. Then there’s the foundation story of Roma Nova waiting for me…

Thank you so much for letting me ‘invade’ your blog, David!