Friday, 26 May 2017

Book Launch Preview #4 - Alison Morton and Retalio

What is it about? 

RETALIO is a classic tale of resistance and resilience. An exiled Aurelia Mitela leads an army of the dispossessed to liberate their beloved Roma Nova from the brutal tyranny of usurper Caius Tellus, her personal nemesis.

Who would enjoy it?

Anybody who likes adventure, a political and military thriller with a dollop of feminism, a tough heroine who melts in the arms of her lover but leads a nation of exiles against an amoral power-grabber, feats of high courage and low betrayals, and the odd bit of banter.

When is it set?

Early 1980s, in an alternative timeline

Where do you want to take us?

To Central Europe, to a 20th century remnant of the Roman Empire where values, beliefs and principles are tied to a resolute and determined response to threats to survival.

Why should we read this, the last in a trilogy, first?

Each story is a complete and standalone adventure. It won’t spoil your enjoyment of RETALIO if you haven’t read AURELIA and INSURRECTIO, the first and second books in this second trilogy, but if you do read them you’ll discover how Caius has damaged Aurelia and why he hates her so much.

How did you get the idea and will there be more?

A bad film, triggering an idea from a book read fifteen years previously and fuelled by a proto-feminist question from an eleven year old crouched over a Roman mosaic.

Yes, a novella is half written, then comes a collection of short stories. Still in the thought pipeline is the story set at the end of the 4th century – the foundation of Roma Nova.


‘Surely you don’t want to go on this routine exercise now?’

Volusenia was trying to sound reasonable. It didn’t suit her. We walked on towards the back garden wall. The sun was warm for October with not even a light breeze to dilute it. The parkland was green and lush again, having recovered from the hot summer. Its softness was a complete contrast with the brutal place we were planning to go.

‘It makes no difference,’ I said. ‘If it’s as routine as you say, then how can it be risky?’

‘I’m so fed up of trying to explain to you that I’m almost ready to let you go and Mercury take the consequences!’

‘Look, this is an important intelligence gathering mission with specific targets. You say you can get me into the palace. Well, who better to find the evidence we want on Caius? I’ve handled more government paperwork than you’ve been on exercises.’ Volusenia went to speak, but I continued. ‘Yes, I have. I’m uniquely placed to identify exactly what we need to show the international community and tighten the rather pathetic sanctions currently existing against Caius.’

She was silent for a few moments then glanced up at me. ‘Your daughter’s baby is only a few weeks old. Don’t you want to go to the EUS and see her?’

‘I’ve already spoken to Marina and her husband. They completely support my decision to remain here.’ I tilted my chin up at Volusenia. My heart had been wrenched at that decision but, strangely, it was Marina who had been most insistent during our last telephone call.

‘I am only one daughter, Mama. You must stay for all daughters of Roma Nova, including the imperatrix. Silvia needs you more than ever.’ She’d gulped, then said, ‘I have some friends here now and William is taking the best care of me. I want my child to be able to come back to a free Roma Nova, not be condemned to be an exile.’

I could hardly reply, my throat had tightened so much; then transatlantic static had ended our call.

Alison Morton writes the acclaimed Roma Nova thriller series featuring modern Praetorian heroines. She blends her deep love of Roman history with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, adventure and thriller fiction.

The first five books have been awarded the BRAG Medallion. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices.  AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April 2017.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison has misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. She holds a MA History, blogs about Romans and writing.

Now she continues to write, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband of 30 years.

Social media links
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site:
Twitter: @alison_morton

Buying link for RETALIO (multiple retailers/formats):

RETALIO book trailer:

Friday, 19 May 2017

Booklaunch Preview # 3 - JJ Marsh & Bad Apples

What is it?

A standalone crime novel in The Beatrice Stubbs Series, the sixth and last.
Murder at a crime conference, inevitable family fireworks and all the prime ingredients for a rollercoaster adventure - Francis Guenette, author of The Crater Lake Series

Who will enjoy it?

Those who like their crime “with a lighter, less gruesome touch” (Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller)

When is it set?

It takes place in modern-day Portugal in the heat of summer, taking in Porto, Lisbon, the national park of Gerês and a quick dash to Paris.

Where should I read it?

In the garden in a hammock or lazing on the beach with a glass of vinho verde.

Why read the last in the series first?

You can read them in any order. Each is a mystery in its own right but all the books add a piece of the puzzle that is Beatrice herself.

How will I feel at the end?

Deeply satisfied, I hope, and perhaps a tiny bit peckish.

Extract from Bad Apples

A car collected her from Aeroporto Francisco Sà Carneiro and drove her north. She gazed out at the terracotta roofs, window shutters, dusty summer foliage and roadside hoardings with a familiar sense of excitement. She was back on mainland Europe, where things are just a little different and always unpredictable.

The taxi crossed various bodies of water, each reflecting the afternoon sunshine and deep blue sky as they entered the natural park and drew nearer to their destination. Buildings became scarce and the terrain grew more mountainous and verdant. If a moose or a wolf came strolling out of the forest, Beatrice wouldn’t have been in the least surprised.

Low sun hit the fields surrounding Gerês College of Hospitality as the car rumbled up the drive to the grand-looking castle. The facade was slightly marred by damage to the uppermost stonework, where part of the crenellations had crumbled, leaving a gap resembling a missing tooth. Red and white plastic tape secured the area but added nothing to the charm of the building.

She tipped the driver and pulled her suitcase after her into an equally impressive portico. The porch was lined by blue and white tiles depicting scenes of country life, reminding her of her mother’s willow pattern crockery.

Order your copy here

Writer, journalist, teacher, actor, director and cultural trainer, Jill has lived and worked all over Europe. Now based in Switzerland, Jill is a founder member of Triskele Books, European correspondent for Words with JAM magazine, co-edits Swiss literary hub The Woolf and is a reviewer for Bookmuse.
Author of the Beatrice Stubbs series: Behind Closed Doors, Raw Material, Tread Softly, Cold Pressed, Human Rites  and Bad Apples. Short-story collection Appearances Greeting a Point of View is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Twitter: @JJMarsh1

Friday, 12 May 2017

Book Launch Preview # 2 - Gillian E Hamer & Sacred Lake

What is it?

A standalone crime novel which is the third in The Gold Detective Series

Who will enjoy it?

Those who like crime with an edge. I call it Anglesey Noir. Or ‘Hamer is Anglesey’s answer to Ian Rankin’ – Amazon reviewer.

When is it set?

Two murders, four decades apart, all centred around a sacred lake with a long history of Druid activity on the beautiful island of Anglesey.

Where should I read it?

Set in mid-winter, so curled up in bed, with a mug of hot chocolate and a pack of digestives.

Why do you write crime fiction?

Because I have read crime fiction all my life and I love the genre. From Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie strong, female writers have influenced my writing.

How many books will there be in the series?

I have six stories in my head, so I’m planning six books. But let’s see where the characters take us …

Extract from Sacred Lake

JANUARY 1st 1977

I jump the gate and run for my life. Lungs on fire, legs pounding, I zig-zag through a misty tunnel of high hedgerows and out onto a road. I stumble along the centre white line, unbalanced and disorientated, one way, then the other, praying to see a car. The road is an empty black strip disappearing into the distance. Which way? I stop, hands on knees, panting, head turning, back and forth. Come on, which way!

A muffled cough spurs me onwards. The road leaves me too exposed. I leap a ditch, heading for the cover of trees, and the distant lights of houses beyond. Willing my legs to move, not to fail me now. Breath swirls around me as I stumble like a blind man, crashing into unseen obstacles but not daring to slow my pace. Slipping, sliding, arms wind-milling.

My toe snags a tree root and I hit the frozen ground. Air escapes with a whoosh, and I bite back a cry, the tang of rusted iron filling my mouth. My eyes flood with tears that bring a little warmth to my cheeks, and I strain to see and hear in the dark silence.

I need a second to catch my breath and refocus. I cannot believe this has happened. My life has turned on its head, and I’ve looked death in the face, all since the chimes of midnight brought in the new year a few short hours ago. But we both knew. All our plans for a bright, new future were ripped into shreds, scattered to the four corners, the second we heard his voice and knew he’d found our secret place.

Footsteps thud to a halt and I’m alert again. Close. He is close. Heavy breathing and the acrid scent of him on the wind. A dog barks, excited and keen. A man’s angry retort as he struggles to control the beast. On hands and knees I crawl, belly flat to the ground. Slimy leaves heed my progress, smooth and glistening like a slug’s trail as I slip silently across the forest floor. Pine needles pluck at my clothes, animals scurry from my path.

And then I am in a clearing. I gasp. A sparkling expanse, like a ballroom of crystal, a dance floor of diamonds, spreads before me. On the furthest side, a high bank of stones edges the silver oasis, and beyond that the spray and crash of the ocean.

I step forwards, arms outstretched to keep my balance. Ice. A huge sheet of ice. I take a tentative step, then another, sliding my feet across the surface in tiny, baby steps, a novice ice-skater among a more confident crowd.

A twig snaps behind me and I come to my senses. I can hear, almost feel, his breath on the back of my neck. I try to run but lose traction with each stride, a picture of Bambi, on ice, my sister’s favourite cartoon, spirals into my brain. Torch beams glitter and dance between my feet. He is closer. A man’s voice penetrates the darkness, words snatched away with the breeze.

Then a cracking noise. Hard and sharp, like a pencil snapped in two.

To be continued ......

Order your copy HERE

Friday, 5 May 2017

Book Launch Preview #1 - Jessica Bell & Dear Reflection

What are some topics that are dealt with in Dear Reflection

Growing up with musicians for parents
Dealing with non-clinical depression
Dealing with a parent with an iatrogenic illness (chronic pain, panic attacks, addiction, drug withdrawal, depression and anxiety)
Bullying, losing one’s virginity to rape and its emotional effects
Teenage/Young adult binge-drinking
Self-destructive behaviour as a means of escape
Music / Performing live / Songwriting

Who might be interested in reading Dear Reflection?

People who have cared for sick parents as children and are forced into an adult role very early in life.

When is the book set?

Primarily in the 80s and 90s.

Where is the book set?

In three places:

Melbourne, Australia

Ithaca, Greece

Athens, Greece

Why did you write this memoir?

Though there are many reasons, one of them was to expose childhood wounds and show that healing is possible.

How did it feel to design your own book cover?

Amazing! And it was absolute fate to find that photograph of myself, at the last minute, too. I discovered it in one my old photo albums while I was gathering photos for my social media promo. I really didn’t plan it. (You can go on Facebook and search for #DearReflectionFlashback to see my promo efforts so far.)

Extract from Dear Reflection

I needed to pee. It was 1985, and I was four. It would be the first time I remember running from emotional struggle by doing something stupid.

My heart beat in my throat, and I trembled in the darkness of my peach-coloured bedroom at 80 Edwin Street, Heidelberg Heights, in Melbourne, Australia­—the red brick house with the crooked mailbox and untamed pink and orange rose bushes I shared with my parents until I turned twenty.

I opened my bedroom door a teeny-tiny crack. The freezing air from the corridor slipped through and gave me goose bumps. I imagined the icy cold floor stinging my feet as I navigated the hall, the kitchen, the glasshouse, past the piano, to get to the toilet, and then slamming the glossy pink door to stop the Heidel Monsters from getting in.

I decided against it and pissed in the corner of my bedroom.

I watched the pee soak into the fibres of the mud-stained ash-grey carpet, then wiped my chishy with the corner of a pillow and placed it on top of the smelly puddle. I returned to bed and wrapped myself in my feather down doona, shivering until I warmed.

The next day, when my mother, Erika Bach, and stepfather, Demetri Vlass, were preoccupied with recording their song ideas onto their four-track mixer in the music room, they didn’t notice a thing. I realized how much I could get away with without anyone ever knowing how I truly felt.

It was a triumph.

A miracle.

My bedroom door wasn’t transparent, and my mother didn’t really ‘have eyes in the back of her head.’ There was no real reason to hide other than my own irrational fear of feeling something that could potentially be a challenge to deal with. But it felt powerful to hide. The thrill of obtaining such privacy would soon develop into a cold, selfish, heartless reflection I believed protected me.

She persuaded me to run.

Her voice grew more authoritative until she became ‘another me’—a decision maker who knew ‘best.’

She didn’t.

Order the book HERE