Sunday Connection – This Week’s #BookReviews Plus Links To The Blogosphere #SundayBlogShare

This week we’ve been reviewing the following books:


Monday – Barb reviewed fantasy The Jack Of Ruin by Stephen C Merlino


I reviewed non fiction The Friendship Cure by Kate Leaver


Tuesday – I reviewed mild thriller The Intruder by P.S Hogan


Wednesday – Eleanor reviewed historical romance The Viscount And The Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews


Thursday – Judith W reviews scifi The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith


Friday – Jessie reviewed historical fantasy The Falcon Flies Alone by Gabrielle Mattieu


Saturday – Alison reviewed family memoir Castles In The Air by Alison Ripley

Plus Links To The Blogosphere

Good advice for pitching your book

Modern demands for word-counts in books

Drew tackles a common theme among book bloggers

Can Authors vote on Amazon reviews of their own book?

Help understanding Goodreads bookshelves



Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #mystery A Clerical Error by @newwrites #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Jenny R,

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading A Clerical Error by J. New


5 Stars

I enjoyed this book so very much.  The story unfolds at a nice pace and is very easy to keep up with. There is nothing confusing or complex in the way that the author has built up and unraveled the plot.  The story is well written, so much so that I could feel myself visualizing the scenes, the people and the unfolding of the plot.

The description and feel of the little village is warm and welcoming, the characters are well placed, and I especially love the way that Jocaster manipulates Ella into helping out at the village fete. I myself have come across this in my village.  I think that village life is actually like that, so to use this in the story is a lovely touch.

Ella Bridges, what a fine sleuth she is along with her aunt and sidekick ‘Phantom’ This is a cosy read, you can snuggle up on a winters evening with this book and you will not want to put it down.

The substance in this book is simply perfect.

Book description

When the crime scene is pure coincidence and there’s no evidence, how do you prove it was murder?

Ella Bridges faces her most challenging investigation so far when the vicar dies suddenly at the May Day Fete. But with evidence scarce and her personal life unravelling in ways she could never have imagined, she misses vital clues in the investigation.
Working alongside Sergeant Baxter of Scotland Yard, will Ella manage to unearth the clues needed to catch the killer before another life is lost? Or will personal shock cloud her mind and result in another tragedy?

‘A Clerical Error’ is set in 1930’s England, and is the third of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series.
‘Miss Marple meets The Ghost Whisperer’ – Perfect For Fans of Golden Age Murder Mysteries, Cozy Mysteries, Clean Reads and British Amateur Sleuths

About the author

J. New is the British author of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Set on the fictitious island of Linhay in the south of England during the 1930’s, they are an homage to the Golden Age mysteries but with a contemporary twist.

J. New

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #memoir Castles In The Air by @lambertnagle

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Castles In The Air by Alison Ripley Cubitt


Using letters and journal entries, this book traces the life of the author’s mother, Molly, from her childhood in Hong Kong and Malaya, through marriage and motherhood, detailing her career in nursing, living in New Zealand and her struggles in adult life.

I enjoyed the letters -they give an honest and authentic glimpse into Molly’s life and the upheaval she faces in the war years. As the book progresses, the narrative is unflinching. The author hides nothing, and even though Molly has demons to struggle with, and even though these must have affected the author in her childhood and beyond, the love and affection she felt for her children  shines through and brings a real warmth to the book.

I found the historical detail fascinating and thought that Molly was so interesting. She must have been a fascinating lady, with so many experiences to share. That said, there was some repetition, and some details that, while I can see how they would be interest for the family, did become a little monotonous.

The book is well-written, and the author is obviously a competent writer. I found myself wishing that she’d taken the letters and journals and made them into a novel. I feel this would be much more interesting for most readers and there’s an absolute wealth of material here.

An enjoyable read, but something I felt had the potential to be a great deal more.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Book description

After writing this review I have looked for Castles in the Air on Amazon. There are some good five star reviews there; it may be this was just not the style of memoir I enjoy.A daughter is forced to confront the uncomfortable truth of her mother’s seemingly ordinary life. By trying to make sense of the past, will she feel able to move on with her future? Honest yet unsentimental and told with abundant love and compassion, Castles in the Air is a profoundly moving portrait of a woman’s life, hopes and dreams, in an era when women couldn’t have it all.

About the author

Alison was born in Malaysia and like many an expat child, was sent away to boarding school in England at a young age. At the age of eight she moved with her family to New Zealand, where she went to school and university.

Bitten by the travel bug, she moved to Australia, then to the United Kingdom where she landed a job in TV and film production, working for companies including the BBC and Walt Disney. But her passion has always been for writing.

She is an author, memoirist, novelist, and screenwriter and co-writes thrillers with Sean Cubitt, writing as Lambert Nagle. Sean’s day job is Professor of Film and Television, Goldsmiths, University of London. He has been published by leading academic publishers.

Serial expats, Lambert Nagle have also lived in Canada and although now based in Hampshire, travel back and forwards to New Zealand whenever they can.

Alison Ripley Cubitt

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Historical #Fantasy The Falcon Flies Alone by @GabrielleAuthor

Today’s team review is from Jessie, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Jessie has been reading The Falcon Flies Alone by Gabrielle Mathieu


When a book starts with a naked woman on a roof wondering how she got there and more pressingly how on earth she’s going to get down, you might think that the plot of this book would have you in it’s grip. Instead I found that the plot, though smooth, was almost too flat and it was the force of the characters that kept me reading. From the not super likable heroine to the villain who’s image was drawn with such depth he gave me nightmares, the characters were easily the stars of the novel.

Would I recommend it? The story line could have used less substance abuse, and more substance.  Although to be fair it was mostly substance abuse in the name of science. Creepy experiment on people science but science… well, with a little witch doctor voodoo thrown in for good measure. Fortunately the characters saved the book. This is Mathieu’s first novel and I look forward to seeing what she writes next.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Gabrielle Mathieu lived on three continents by the age of eight. She’d experienced the bustling bazaars of Pakistan, the serenity of Swiss mountain lakes, and the chaos of the immigration desk at the JFK airport. Perhaps that’s why she developed an appetite for the unusual and disorienting. Her fantasy books are grounded in her experience of different cultures and interest in altered states of consciousness (mostly white wine and yoga these days). The Falcon Flies Alone is her debut novel.

Gabrielle Mathieu

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #SciFi The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith @explainresearch

Today’s team review is from Judith W, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith


The Happy Chip is a story about a revolutionary nano-chip which allows people to monitor their physical health and emotional well-being; it can even guide life choices and personal preferences.  However, writer Brad Davis begins working for the company responsible, and soon learns they have plans to create new chips – this time with more horrific side effects including suicidal tendencies, monstrous rage, and instant death.

When choosing a book to review for Rosie’s Book Review Team, the tagline and premise of The Happy Chip immediately caught my eye.

The beginning was shocking and instantly places the reader in the midst of this dystopian technology, forcing you to work things out for yourself. I liked this – not everything needs explaining straightaway.

Yet when explanations are needed, some of the scientific jargon surrounding the biology and nano-chip technology was somewhat overwhelming and in places not particularly clear. Meredith is a science communicator and has worked with science journalists and written various pieces himself, so it is natural the scientific language would be detailed. However, overly scientific jargon can easily become confusing to the “average” reader.

Furthermore, there was a lot of gun terminology that was lost on me. As a reader from the UK, guns are not a part of everyday life; I don’t know anything about them and so specific details regarding models and rounds were seemingly unnecessary to me.

I liked the concept of monitoring and altering emotions and choices at will, as it is reminiscent of other works such as Brave New World and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and raises classic dystopian questions such as “What is free will?” and “What makes us human?”.

The new chips – engineered for different outcomes whether implanted in males or females – was an effective, if not a little stereotypical, threat.

I enjoyed the subtle manipulation of people (although wouldn’t in real life!) However, some of the descriptions of characters’ emotional states could have been developed further as they weren’t very detailed.

Pacing was also something I felt could have been improved. Halfway through The Happy Chip, it felt like I was at the climax of the novel. Perhaps the narrative would have been better split into two shorter stories, although this is just my personal preference.

Overall, I did enjoy The Happy Chip, although Meredith’s storytelling techniques could be improved.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Book description

You feel ecstatic! Until you kill yourself.

The Happy Chip is the latest nanoengineering wonder from the high-flying tech company, NeoHappy, Inc.

Hundreds of millions of people have had the revolutionary chip injected into their bodies to monitor their hormonal happiness and guide them to life choices, from foods to sex partners.

Given the nanochip’s stunning success, struggling science writer Brad Davis is thrilled when he is hired to co-author the biography of its inventor, billionaire tech genius Marty Fallon.

That is, until Davis learns that rogue company scientists are secretly testing horrifying new control chips with “side effects”—suicidal depression, uncontrollable lust, murderous rage, remote-controlled death, and ultimately, global subjugation.

His discovery threatens not only his life, but that of his wife Annie and their children. Only with the help of Russian master hacker Gregor Kalinsky and his gang can they hope to survive the perilous adventure that takes them from Boston to Beijing.

The Happy Chip, an edge-of-your-seat thriller, spins a cautionary tale of unchecked nanotechnology spawning insidious devices that could enslave us. It dramatically portrays how we must control our “nanofuture” before it’s too late.

About the author

Dennis Meredith brings to his novels an expertise in science from his career as a science communicator at some of the country’s leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the University of Wisconsin. He has worked with science journalists at all the nation’s major newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV networks and has written well over a thousand news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering over his career.

Dennis Meredith

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Viscount And The Vicar’s Daughter by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Eleanor, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Eleanor has been reading The Viscount And The Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews



The premise of the novel was a nice take on the oft-used virgin-reforms-a-jaded-rake trope. I loved that Lord Tristan was considered a rake beyond redemption and persona non grata by most of the ton; most “rakes” you read about are still darlings of polite society and get away with their crimes. The fact that Tristan was considered beyond redemption by all, including his own father, added a quite unique twist to the novel that I really enjoyed.

The story is delightfully prim and proper in the style of a Jane Austen regency. Mimi is clearly a polished and practised writer and the novel flows very well and it was a joy to read from a technical perspective. Her historical research and deep understanding of the period is seamless with the story with no historical fact info dumps. Even I, a bit of a stickler for correct historical facts and behaviour, couldn’t find much to quibble over. Even the speech was evocative of the period so a big thumbs up from me here.

The thing that stopped this novel from being really great for me was the speed with which Tristan and Valentine fell in love. They had good depth as characters and appropriate motivations for their actions during the novel but I simply didn’t buy that they were in love after only a couple of days in each others’ company. I believe Tristan fell deeply in lust very quickly and Valentine certainly admired his manly form in her innocent way but I didn’t feel there was yet an overwhelmingly grand passion (difficult in a ‘proper’ Regency, I know) or connection between the two to account for them being in love so soon. I felt the groundwork had been wonderfully laid for them to go on and fall in love on further acquaintance but the novel ended too soon for it actually to be a believable reality for me. I’d have very happily continued reading about them for several more chapters to bed this in. It was just a bit unsatisfying as I felt there could’ve been so much more there but was curtailed by a likely word count requirement. Still a thoroughly enjoyable read though.

Book description

England, 1861. A world-weary rake and a prim vicar’s daughter are thrown together during a holiday house party. Will they discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?


After years of unbridled debauchery, Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton has hit proverbial rock bottom. Seeking to escape his melancholy, he takes refuge at one of Victorian society’s most notorious house parties. As the Christmas season approaches, he prepares to settle in for a month of heavy drinking…until an unexpected encounter changes his plans—and threatens his heart.


Valentine March is not the drab little spinster she appears to be. When her new job as a lady’s companion lands her smack in the middle of Yorkshire with England’s most infamous rake, she resolves to keep her head down and her eyes fixed firmly on her future—a future which most definitely does not include a sinfully handsome viscount.


A friendship is impossible. An affair out of the question. But when one reckless act binds them together, will two star-crossed souls discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

About the author

Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Pen & Sword Books, November 2017) and A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty (Pen & Sword Books, July 2018). Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. When not writing historical non-fiction, Mimi authors exquisitely proper Victorian romance novels with dark, brooding heroes and intelligent, pragmatic heroines. Her debut Victorian romance The Lost Letter was released in September 2017.

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My #Bookreview of mild #thriller THE INTRUDER by P.S.Hogan @HJ_Barnes #TuesdayBookBlog

The IntruderThe Intruder by P.S. Hogan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Intruder is a mild thriller where the focus is on an ordinary man rather than the popular police investigations that currently flood this genre.

William Heming is an estate agent, a quiet, diligent man, who worked his way up from a holiday job to business owner. He knows his town well, having helped buy and sell a house on almost every street. He silently supports the community, giving generous donations to both youth and play groups. He’s an advocate for good social behaviour, treats his employees well and often goes the extra mile for clients.

Heming is a very private man, but has an inquisitive nature and an obsessive need to snoop into other people’s lives. He is a silent watcher, a stalker and a man who holds a key to every house he’s sold. He regularly returns to these houses to soak up the atmosphere and, most chillingly, of all, rifle through the current owner’s possessions.

This is an intriguing novel. Heming is both compelling and repulsive, an unlikeable character, but one whose full story I wanted to know. Hogan drip-feeds Heming’s background along with his present life; one moment I was close to empathy for Heming, the next I shivered in discomfort. This tug-of-war kept my interest as the tale turned sinister and made me wonder just where Heming was heading to next.

Ideal for those who want something different from the thriller genre and are happy to have a rest from many of the high octane fast paced books they might have been recently reading.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

He has the key to hundreds of houses.
Maybe even to yours.

William Heming is an estate agent. He’s kept a copy of every key to every house he’s ever sold. Sometimes he visits them. He lets himself in – quietly, carefully – to see who lives there now, what they’re like, what they’ve been doing.

But what will happen when he gets caught?

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Social #Relationships My #Bookreview of The Friendship Cure by @kateileaver @Duckbooks

The Friendship CureThe Friendship Cure by Kate Leaver

4 stars

The Friendship Cure is a non-fiction book which considers the role of friendships in our lives.

Kate Leaver is a renowned journalist. Her research has considered many types of friendships, from those which form in our early years, teenage friends, workplace friends, casual acquaintances, social media friendships, toxic friends and those all important life-long friends. Leaver has used scientific findings and her own experiences, as well as results from interviewing members of the public.

The book packs in a lot of material. As with much non-fiction writing, some parts were of more personal interest than others. I liked the section about using social media to make new friendships by creating the opportunities to meet face-to-face. I also liked the piece on workplace friendships, including work-wives and work-husbands and how these are beneficial to both employees and employers. It made me think of several examples of unhappy competitive businesses where office politics make the environment an unhappy space.

Another interesting topic was the one about loneliness and how some people think it could be the next great public health epidemic. Leaver writes that becoming socially isolated might be as dangerous as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, particularly as we age and our circle of friends diminishes. This one linked well to the piece on mental health and how important friendship can be, in recovery, for anyone suffering from any form of health imbalance.

There’s a lovely part about how companionship can be linked to longevity. A small town in Sardinia is, apparently, the only place in the world where the men live as long as the women. There are more than six times the amount of centenarians living there than in mainland Italy. Through a system of social integration these centenarians are looked after by multiple layers of loving, caring family and friends.

It did take me a while to get through this book, but several chapters made me think about my own friendships and how I might maintain those relationships as I grow older. This is the type of book which could be an ideal gift to the right sort of friend in your own life.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Our best friends, gal-pals, bromances, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, long distance buddies and WhatsApp threads define us in ways we rarely openly acknowledge. There is so much about friendship we either don’t know or don’t articulate: why do some friendships last a lifetime, while others are only temporary? How do you ‘break up’ with a toxic friend? Can men and women really be platonic? And maybe the most important question: how can we live in the most interconnected age and still find ourselves stuck in the greatest loneliness epidemic of our time? It’s killing us, making us miserable and causing a public health crisis. What if meaningful friendships are the solution, not a distraction?

Kate Leaver’s much anticipated manifesto argues that friendship can cure the modern malaise of solitude, ignorance, ill health and angst. She looks at what friendship means, how it can survive, why we need it and what we can do to get the most from it. From behavioural scientists to best mates, Kate finds extraordinary stories and research, drawing on her own experiences to create a fascinating blend of accessible ‘smart thinking’, investigative journalism, pop culture and memoir.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT @barbtaub reviews #Fantasy The Jack Of Ruin by @StephenMerlino

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading The Jack Of Ruin by Stephen C Merlino


Epic fantasy is an ambitious genre to take on. After Lord of the Rings defined it, great series from the Belgariad to Harry Potter refined it, and Star Wars took it into space, it’s got to be a challenge to extend the tropes into new territory, especially for the middle book of a series. In my review of The Jack of Souls, Book 1 of the wonderful Unseen Moon series, I said that author Stephen Merlino checks off every one of the sacred tenets of epic fantasy consecrated by patron saint J.R.R. Tolkien, paying loving homage even as he turns the genre sideways and makes it his bitch.

The Jack of Ruin is basically the quest portion of the series. Harric, the young trickster, has secretly tapped into magic to save his friends from Sir Bannus, who seeks to destroy his queen and return the kingdom to old ways—which, among other things, would mean that fatherless people like Harric would become slaves again. Unfortunately, the young woman he loves, Caris, is magically compelled by a ring meant for the Queen. Although aware that Caris’ loathing for the ring now includes not only hatred of her magically-compelled lust for Harric, but for Harric himself, he is forced to remain by her side out of fear for what the ring will do if he leaves her. Meanwhile, their small band races ahead of the pursuing Sir Bannus in hopes of getting the alien ambassador Brolli back to his country in time to ratify the treaty he holds, as well as remove the ring’s power over Caris. But each member of their group hides their own secrets, and each holds the seed to their destruction.

  • World building
    ? Is there a “too good” category? Author Stephen Merlino has taken the genre’s standard medieval-with-magic framework and built several worlds within it, from the slightly-steampunk technology workarounds of Harric’s magic-averse home kingdom, to the starkly dangerous quest landscape, to the treehouse world of the chimp-like Kwendi. In fact, the meticulously drawn and consistent landscapes are so detailed that I found myself grateful for the gorgeous maps and illustrations scattered throughout the text.
  • Mystical hero from the past gathering a small band of Heroes, Simple Folk, and (probably) Lost Heir to the throne? The only card-carrying hero is Sir Willard, whose heroic past is only matched by his narrow-minded judgemental dismissal of anyone who uses magic. His courtly romantic decision to abandon his immortality in order to grow old and die with his love, the Lady Anna, is challenged and abandoned when he realizes magic is the only hope to accomplish their mission and save the kingdom. Even as Sir Willard regains the youth and strength associated with his returning immortality, the resultant connection with the mad god Krato threatens his already perilous grip on sanity. Of course, that doesn’t stop his loathing for Harric’s apparent brush with magic, even thought that’s actually what has saved them so far. Their suitably motley little band also includes Caris—Willard’s gifted warrior squire whose magical connection to horses often leaves her unable to function in human terms. Her fundamental loathing for magic not only exceeds Sir Willard’s hypocritical rejection of Harric, but equally hypocritically fails to recognize the magical elements of her own connection with horses.
  • Hobbit? Of course there’s Brolli—the magic-wielding chimp-like ambassador who provides assistance even as his own secrets reveal far more potentially sinister intentions.
  • Super cool sword and horse? Sir Willard’s sword Belle is still as sharp as ever, not to mention Molly—his immortal, bad-tempered, magic horse whose literal blood thirst is both a threat and a enticement for Caris.
  • Dark force from the dark past returning for (unspecified) dark purpose? The villainous Old Ones under Sir Bannus are really, really dark, with the most powerful and insane barely under the control of their deviously evil masters. But here’s the thing about all these old magic-using types—they’re all in Arkendia, a land whose god has given them three fundamental rules: “Let none of you worship or pray gods for favors, Nor bow down to high lords among you. Neither rely you on magic, and you shall be strong.” So—no gods, no high lords, and most especially no magic. Their favorite oath is “Gods leave me.” It’s kind of an uphill slog for the forces of evil. Then there are the ambiguously threatening Kwendi, and the creatures of the Unseen, from Harric’s wisecracking imp partner Fink—“Beneath a long, bulbous nose, a hedge of needlelike teeth stretched in a permanent grin. White, pupilless eyes gleamed like boils tight with fluid”—to Fink’s malevolent sisters headed by the whimsically-named Missy.
  • One ring to rule them all? There was going to be one, but the Queen got really annoyed at the implication that she needed a man, and then it accidentally got stuck on Caris’ hand, and… well the whole ring-thing is kind of a mess. Now Caris loathes Harric even as the ring magically compels her lust for him.
  • Politics? With the fate of Arkendia and her Queen hanging in the balance, with forces struggling to control the powers of the gods, and with those powers potentially capable of destroying the entire world, the stakes are definitely and suitably epic.

Does it sound like I like this book? Well, it’s too big and too complicated and (518 pages!) probably way too long. Actually, I love it. By the end of The Jack of Ruin, almost every character—those who survive anyway—faces their black moment, coming out if it with a greater sense of purpose if not, in many cases, any actual understanding of what’s happening to them. They still have their secrets, their self-imposed limitations, and their goals that define them. I can’t wait to see where that takes them in the last book of the series, and only hope we don’t have to wait too long to find out. Overall, even with the brilliant subversions of the epic fantasy genre, there are two things that I believe take The Jack of Ruin to an “I’d-give-more-stars-if-I-could” level. The first is the fact that every single character is an unreliable narrator. They all have secrets that provide motivation for their actions and decisions. And the second is that they are almost all three-dimensional beings whose surface appearance often masks enormous flaws and unexpected heroism. For example, the gigantic priest, Father Kogan, is an uneducated, drunken, close-minded buffoon—and also capable of epic feats of strength, bravery, and perception. At the same time, the ‘hero’, Sir Willard, is a narrow-minded elitist snob whose fast-returning immortality might provide the physical strength needed to face Sir Bannus, but gives him precious little grasp of the political subterfuges swirling around him.

Book description

Harric’s immortal enemy, Sir Bannus, lies defeated in the valley, his army buried under tons of mountain rubble—a rock fall that Harric brought down with the magic of the Unseen Moon. For now, the quest to deliver the Queen’s peace treaty to the mysterious Kwendi is safe.

But Sir Bannus rises from defeat with Harric’s name on his lips, vengeance in his fist, and a vow to capture the treaty-bearers and spark war to bring ruin upon the Queen. To Harric, death would be preferable, for if she falls, Sir Bannus or another of the Old Ones will reclaim the throne and cast women and bastards like Harric back into slavery.

Yet Harric’s companions condemn his use of trickery and magic to fight Sir Bannus—tools that saved them once before, and which he believes are as vital as swords for the Queen’s protection.

When treachery, discord, and death doom the quest, Harric must choose between the love and regard of his friends and his self-chosen destiny as Her Majesty’s Unseen protector.

It is a choice that will forever bind him to one…and bring ruin to the other.

About the author

Stephen Merlino lives in Seattle, WA, where he writes, plays and teaches English to teens. He lives with the world’s most desirable woman and two fabulous children, one cat, and three attack chickens.

Growing up in Seattle in constant rain drove Stephen indoors as a child, so he ended up reading a lot. When at the age of eleven he discovered J.R.R. Tolkein, Terry Brooks, and other fantasy writers, he dreamed of writing his own epic tales.

About the time a fifth reading of the Lord of the Rings no longer delivered the old magic, he attended the University of Washington and fell in love with Chaucer and Shakespeare and all things English. Sadly, the closest he got to England then was The Unicorn Pub on University Way, & that was run by a Scot named Angus. Nevertheless, he sampled Angus’s weird ales, and devoured Angus’s steak & kidney pie (with real offal!).

Stephen later backpacked Britain, where he discovered a magnificent retrospective of Henry VIII’s body development–from childhood to old age–captured in a dozen suits of armor. Each suit was a 3D snapshot in steel of his exact body shape in a specific moment in time. Stephen observed His Majesty was glorious when young, but as an old man the king corpulent and developed what was either elephantiasis or an unhealthy infatuation with his codpiece.

Stratford-upon-Avon inspired Stephen to return the following year to study Shakespeare at the U of Reading. He now teaches Shakespeare, and, by following The Bard’s example of plot thievery, built one of the subplots of A Midsummer Night’s Dreaminto The Jack of Souls. It’s one of his favorite parts of the story.

Stephen C. Merlino

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Sunday Connection – Books We’ve Reviewed This Week, Plus Links To The Blogosphere #SundayBlogShare

This week we’ve reviewed the following books:


Monday – Georgia reviewed WW2 naval thriller Jonah by Carl Rackman


Tuesday – Olga reviewed horror Freaky Franky by William Blackwell


Wednesday – Karen reviewed mystery The Maori Detective by D.A. Crossman


Thursday – I reviews romantic suspense Wild Card Undercover by Kari Lemor


Friday – Cathy reviewed vintage mystery A Clerical Error by J New


Saturday – Terry reviewed travel memoir Notes Of A Naive Traveler by Jennifer S Alderson

 Plus Links From The Blogosphere

Books which feature great senior characters whilst still being #YA

How accurate are Goodreads recommendations?

What are blog linkups all about?