Monday, June 29, 2015

Thomas M.D. Brooke's Roman Mask - Release Day!

Publication Date: June 29, 2015
Formats: Kindle & Paperback
Pages: 388
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure/Action

What is it we normally expect of the leading character in our books? Self-sacrifice? Bravery? Strength of character? Possibly with a hint of self-deprecation? Well, Cassius doesn’t have any of those. Cynicism – yes. Cowardice – possibly. Prepared to live a lie in order to further his own ends – absolutely!

It is Rome AD 9 and Augustus Caesar rules Imperial Rome at the height of its power, as the Roman Empire stretches across the known world. Cassius, son of one of her most powerful families, is the personification of Rome’s imperial strength: wealthy, popular, a war hero with a decorated military career. None of Rome’s fashionable parties are complete without him.

But he hides a secret.

After his nerve is broken in Germany, even the thought of genuine armed combat is enough to send him into a cold sweat. But this doesn’t dissuade him from living off a false reputation so he can continue a life of womanising, wine and wild parties, as he is seduced by the many vices of Rome. However, his scandalous life is interrupted by a summons from the emperor’s wife. It ends his happy decadent life and returns him to Germany to assist the Roman legions in their greatest ever trial. The events will resound through history, in the dark forests of the Teutoburg …

I have researched the calamitous history of the doomed legions that marched into the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, using a wide range of historical sources including the classical works of Tacitus and the more recent archaeological findings of the early 1990s in Kalkriese. I have put my complicated hero, who clearly suffers from the post-traumatic stress of his last encounter with the German tribes, at the centre of the events that rocked Rome to its foundations. How can a man, so flawed in so many respects, possibly impact on these terrible events? By his humanity, by coming to terms with his flaws, and learning to stop hating himself for them. It is a tale of betrayal and hardship, but also personal redemption.

Roman Mask Available At

About the Author
Thomas Brooke lives in London where he works in the exciting, and sometimes crazy, fashion world. He is also a committed writer and he spends as much time as he can in his beloved Northumbrian hills, where up until recently could be seen walking with his black Labrador Fergus, who sadly passed in January 2015. Fergus was a constant companion to the writing of the novel and prevented many writers’ tantrums.

Roman Mask is Thomas Brooke’s second novel, although this will be the first available for sale.

As well as writing novels, he also writes a blog on both historical and fantasy genre novels.

For more information on Thomas M D Brooke, visit and You can also find him on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.


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Thursday, June 25, 2015

D.J. Niko's The Oracle - Cover Reveal and {Giveaway}

02_The Oracle_Cover

Publication Date: November 10, 2015 
Medallion Press 
Paperback; 456p 
ISBN-13: 978-1605426273 
Series: The Sarah Weston Chronicles, Book Three 
Genre: Historical/Archeological Adventure     

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In Delphi, the mountain city deemed by the Greek gods to be the center of the Earth, a cult of neo-pagans re-create with painstaking authenticity ancient rituals to glorify the god Apollo and deliver oracles to seekers from around the world. When antiquities are stolen from a museum in nearby Thebes, British archaeologist Sarah Weston and her American partner, Daniel Madigan, are drawn into a plot that goes beyond harmless role-playing: someone’s using the Delphian oracle as a smoke screen for an information exchange, with devastating consequences for the Western world. Pitted against each other by the cult’s mastermind, Sarah and Daniel race against time and their own personal demons to uncover clues left behind by the ancients. Their mission: to find the original navel stone marked with a lost Pythagorean formula detailing the natural events that led to the collapse of the Minoan Empire. But will they find it in time to stop the ultimate terrorist act?

Pre-Order The Oracle at

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository 

About the Author

Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO
Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

Daphne Nikolopoulos in an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written two novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles. Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. Her follow-up release, The Riddle of Solomon, continues the story of British archaeologist Sarah Weston as she seeks the relics—and mystical secrets—left behind by the biblical King Solomon in remote Israel. Daphne is currently at work on The Oracle, book 3 in The Sarah Weston Chronicles, which releases in 2015. Also slated for publication in 2015 is her first historical novel, The Judgment, which is set in Israel and Egypt in the tenth century BCE. In addition to writing fiction, Daphne is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels. Daphne frequently lectures about her research on the ancient world. She is an instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society, teaching on the subject of archaeology. She has also spoken to audiences at the Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches’ Academy for Continuous Education, and several libraries and private groups throughout Florida. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.

The Oracle Cover Reveal Schedule

Monday, June 15
100 Pages a Day
Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, June 16
Genre Queen
The Reading Queen
Wednesday, June 17
Book Nerd
Diana's Book Reviews
Thursday, June 18
The Lit Bitch
To Read, Or Not to Read
Friday, June 19
A Book Geek
Monday, June 22
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, June 23
Raven Haired Girl
CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, June 24
So Many Books, So Little Time
Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, June 25
Peeking Between the Pages
The Never-Ending Book
The True Book Addict
Friday, June 26
Passages to the Past
Just One More Chapter


To enter to win an Advanced Reading Copy of The Oracle by D.J. Niko please complete the giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs! ⇒ Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, and Canada. ⇒Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 26th. ⇒You must be 18 or older to enter. ⇒Only one entry per household. ⇒All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. ⇒Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 27th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. ⇒Please email Amy @ with any questions.

 The Oracle Cover Reveal + Giveaway

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Cat Thursday - Cats in Art (12)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Miracle of all miracles! I didn't forget this week, even though sister is in town this week. I'm behind on commenting so please bear with me while I catch up. 

More Emile Munier for you. I think these are just adorable.

Catch 1886 
Her Best Friend 1882
Childhood Friends 1885
La Petite Fille 1879
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Cat Thursday - I Forgot!!!

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Can you believe it? I completely forgot to post today. I'm appalled, as I'm sure you are as well. Sorry!

In honor of my forgetfulness, I present to you...Cats who forgot to cat. 

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cat Thursday - Authors and Cats (44)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

The second Cat Thursday of each month is Authors and Cats Thursday. Each time I will feature an author and their cat(s).

Happy Birthday, Joyce Carol Oates! June 16 is the birthday of one of the biggest cat lover authors. Here is a video of Oates at the 2014 New Yorker Festival. She is reading a poem she wrote, An Ode to Cats. There's a screen at her back showing her beloved cat, Cherie, on which she based her children's book, Naughty Cherie, and who she mentions as her collaborator in her writing.

Here's a shot of Oates with one of the two Bengal cats owned by cat-breeder and filmmaker Anthony Hutcherson, Jungletrax Flowmaster.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Coming Soon and Available for Pre-Order! Sophie Perinot's Medicis Daughter

The wait is over. Sophie Perinot, author of The Sister Queens, has a new book available for pre-order! Medicis Daughter travels forward three-hundred years from Perinot’s last novel to the intrigue-riven French court of Charles IX, spinning the tale of beautiful princess Marguerite who walks the knife’s edge between the demands of her serpentine mother, Catherine de Medicis, and those of her own conscience. This is a coming-of-age story that will remind audiences that, when it comes to the 16th century, the Valois are even sexier than the Tudors—and just as treacherous.

Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot’s heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother’s schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot’s wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

Praise for Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois
“This is Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones: dark, sumptuous historical fiction that coils religious strife, court intrigue, passionate love, family hatred, and betrayed innocence like a nest of poisonous snakes. Beautiful Princess Margot acts as our guide to the heart of her violent family, as she blossoms from naive court pawn to woman of conscience and renown. A highly recommended coming-of-age tale where the princess learns to slay her own dragons!” –Kate Quinn, Bestselling author of LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY

“The riveting story of a 16th century French princess caught in the throes of royal intrigue and religious war. From the arms of the charismatic Duke of Guise to the blood-soaked streets of Paris, Princess Marguerite runs a dangerous gauntlet, taking the reader with her. An absolutely gripping read!” –Michelle Moran, bestselling author of THE REBEL QUEEN

“Rising above the chorus of historical drama is Perinot’s epic tale of the fascinating, lascivious, ruthless House of Valois, as told through the eyes of the complicated and intelligent Princess Marguerite. Burdened by her unscrupulous family and desperate for meaningful relationships, Margot is forced to navigate her own path in sixteenth century France. Amid wars of nation and heart, Médicis Daughter brilliantly demonstrates how one unique woman beats staggering odds to find the strength and power that is her birthright.” –Erika Robuck, bestselling author of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL

Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois Available for Pre-Order at

About the Author
SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband.

An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times. Find her among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal or on facebook at

Hashtag: #MedicisDaughterPreOrderBlitz #RenaissanceFrance #SexierthantheTudors


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Friday, June 5, 2015

A Reading Life (38)

Conversation with myself lately...

Me: "Why do you never finish a book during the set read-a-long time?" 
Myself: "I don't know."
Me: "Well, it's pretty lame."
Myself: "You're not my real mom!!!"

Yes, that's right. I have been rebelling against reading within a constrained schedule which doesn't work out too well with my monthly read-a-long, bi-yearly retreat group and this read-a-long event I'm hosting for the next five months (more on that at the end of this post). Hence the overcoming procrastination book below. I'm really trying to do better. Honest. I'm just a work in progress. Like that novel a writer took their entire life to complete. Yup, that's me. 

Keep calm and soldier on...

Currently reading
Solomon's BrideRebecca Hazell
The Once and Future King, T.H. White
A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
In the Woods, Tana French

A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin (Still moseying along)

Family Reading Project (20 minutes daily, alternating titles)
We are getting ready to start our reading after the boys get back from their dad's this week. I think we are going to start with The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson.

TuesBookTalk - We are currently reading The Once and Future King, T.H. White for June.

Lit Collective - We are reading Tana French books for our August retreat. The first three in her Dublin Murder Squad series:

In The Woods
The Likeness
Faithful Place

Book Hauls

Better World Books - Have I mentioned how much I love them?

Geist, Philippa Ballantine
The Prisoner of Heaven, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Hollow, Jessica Verday
Let Me In, John Ajvide Lindqvist (I've already read this...a favorite. Will read again)
The Lottery, Shirley Jackson
The Witchcraft of Salem Village, Shirley Jackson
Home Before Dark, Charles Maclean
All the Women of the Bible, M.L. del Mastro
The Pen Commandments, Steven Frank
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Overcoming Procrastination (will it help? Probably not. lol)
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ancient Egypt
The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Roman Empire

My last library sale

Inkdeath, Cornelia Funke
Kate's Choice, Louisa May Alcott
The Kingmakers (Vampire Empire #3), Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
The Hallowed Ones, Laura Bickle
Ancestral Hungers, Scott Baker
The Witches' Kitchen, Cecelia Holland
We Are Water, Wally Lamb
Madame du Barry: The Wages of Beauty, Joan Haslip
Winter of the World, Ken Follett

In case you missed it, I'm hosting a five month long read-a-long event which coincides with four of the perpetual/long-term reading challenges I host - The MEGA Perpetual Challenge Read-a-Long.

Each month, we will be reading a book that works with each challenge:

June - The Fantasy Project: A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
July/August - The Michener Challenge: The Covenant, James A. Michener
September - The Never-Ending Anne Rice Challenge: The Wolf Gift, Anne Rice
October - The Stephen King Challenge: Salem's Lot, Stephen King

You can read more details at this post and there is also a page in the menu above which is the hub for the event. I hope you will join me!

What's going on in your Reading Life?


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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cat Thursday - Angry Cats

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I'm having a bit of a depressing week so I thought I would go with angry kitties this week. It's easier to be angry than sad. lol

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Anne Higgins' Reconnaissance - Review

My thoughts
I've always loved poetry and I always say to myself, "You need to read more poetry." However, I usually find myself reading more classic poetry, like Keats, Dickinson or Poe. I find myself lacking in the reading of contemporary poetry which is why I decided to join this tour for Poetic Book Tours.

I really enjoyed the wide range of subjects the poet covers in her poems. Anything from birds to driving in traffic. Very interesting and the poems almost made me feel like I know her personally.

I had two favorites in the book. The first is "Hearing Yesterday." I will share the last couple of stanzas from it here:

I believe in yesterday, 
which does not change,
where John Lennon still walks
out the door of the Dakota.

Another song says don't stop thinking about tomorrow.
But I believe in yesterday.
Another song says the landslide brought me down...
and I'm getting older, too,
so I believe in yesterday.


My second favorite I love because I can SO relate to it at this time in my life. It's called "Apology Poem" and I will share it in its entirety here:

Brenda Lee sings I'm Sorry in her halting voice, 
voice like a boy's, choking low like a tomboy's voice, 
harsh, halting, timbre changing,
please accept my apology....

Who's sorry now?
I'm sorry for the time I ran over the rabbit on the country road,
for never asking my mother about her childhood,
for not going to the eye doctor for five years,
until it was too late
sorry for all the times it was too late.

I'm sorry for selfish reasons,
for words that got me in trouble,
for words held back.

Sorry for negligence too global to mention.

Sorry I don't want to list any more.
Wishing I could pack up
all the sorrows
in some overlooked locker
in the far corner of a bus station
in a desert outpost. 
Sorry I wished for that.


I've always read that good poetry makes you feel. And that a poem speaks to the soul. I will testify that these two poems, especially the last one, spoke to my soul.

I really enjoyed this book of poetry and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading poetry.

Reconnaissance by Anne Higgins, a collection of poems published by Texture Press in Sept. 2014. Check out the early praise:

“‘The river flows by like a giant’s dream,/and if I dipped my hand in, what would come?’ writes Anne Higgins. Countless moments of wonder like this illuminate Reconnaissance, a collection that is both lovely and fierce. Elegant and precise descriptions of birdlife and gardens mingle with angry confrontations with illness and a tour de force poem about a catastrophic fire in a Catholic elementary school. A poet in full command of her lyric powers, Higgins also offers us jets of language play and splashes of Magritte-inspired surrealism. An eclectic collection of many pleasures and surprises.” — Lynn Levin, author of Miss Plastique

“Anne Higgins is a first-class observer of the natural world and a poet with poise and grace. In this excellent collection, she charts the habits of birds, imagines the lives of French painters, and reflects vividly on her own childhood. The poems in Reconnaissance embody their title: they are ranging explorations reported to us with intelligence and insight.” —Ryan Teitman, author of Litany for the City

“To say Anne Higgins is profound is to be embarrassingly reasonable. She comes alive in a sensory world liberated by ideas worthy of our love. Her excitement in living and dying changes all the complex problems turned to vexed questions. Hers is the predicament of a kind of faith otherwise forgotten in our cyber-fracture world. I’m beginning to think people are just born with faith in God (i.e., life, beauty, language, spectacle,) and if this is so, then the luckiest of them can take all that potential and show us what is possible.” —Grace Cavalieri, presenter for “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress,” on Vexed Questions

Early praise for the book can be found in the The Hollins Critic magazine: “Reconnaissance is Anne Higgins’s seventh poetry collection. In it, she reconnoiters her past, significant events in American history (the assassination of JFK, 9/11, a fire in which twenty-eight eight-year-olds died), her diminishing eyesight. (In “Another Blind Beggar” she informs us that there is “a grey footprint in the center of my vision, / a grey cat sits in the center of the field.” She writes about life as a nun and favorite pop songs. There are poems about birds, insects, and her mother. In short, this book maps an entire life, the life of a vibrant, intelligent, and sharply observant woman. “Morning yelps with cold,” she writes, and we feel and hear the charged air, become conscious of the exciting chill.” — Review by Kelly Cherry

About the poet
Anne Higgins teaches at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. She is a member of the Daughters of Charity. Her poems have appeared inCommonweal, Yankee, Spirituality and Health, The Centrifugal Eye, and a variety of small magazines. Garrison Keillor has read two of her poems on “The Writers Almanac” – on 10/8/01 and 8/8/10. She is the author of six previous collections of poetry. Check out an interview with her by Susan Smith Nash. Author photo by Michael Hoover.


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