Thursday, September 28, 2023

Read a snippet of The Sight of Heather by Ally Stirling #HistoricalFiction #WomensFiction #ScottishFolklore #BlogTour #CPBC #TheCoffeePotBookClub @authorAllyS @cathiedunn

The Sight of Heather

By Ally Stirling

For centuries, the fae folk and spae women of Scotland were feared – and persecuted.

Life in the 1800s countryside, with its unforgiving climate, was both magnificent and harsh – testing cultures, beliefs and the loyalties of crofters.

The first in this series, The Sight of Heather, begins a journey of allegiance, sacrifice, and fortitude in a land of bold, resilient women.

Jessie’s ideal life spirals when she learns she is a first daughter in a biological line of ‘spaes’ endowed with unique gifts of spiritual sight and healing, aided by powerful ancestral stones.

Backed by a vindictive priest intent on charging Jessie with murder and witchcraft, the new owner of the Cruachan Manor plots to rout the spaes and destroy their beloved forest.

Despite grave warnings and family conflict, Jessie determinedly pursues her skills and powers, plunging her family and village into danger.

Resolute in uplifting her fellow women, Jessie consults her stones.

Faced with those who deem her evil, she must choose to relinquish her craft, or sacrifice herself to protect her culture and kin – and Lily, the next first daughter – the future of the spaes.

Publication Date: September 15th, 2023
Publisher: Author Ally Stirling
Page Length: 338
Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction / Scottish Folklore

Grab a copy HERE!


“We have warned you. Your sister has gone too far and she will pay the price. If you have any sense, you’ll save yourself.”

His mother’s words rang in his ears: 

“Be careful when you reach for grander things. You may lose your soul along the way. Even the moon has its dark side.”

Ally Stirling is a Fiction writer of Scottish origin, currently living in Cape Town with her Braveheart husband, awesome children, the happiest dog in the world, and her menacing cat (aka 'Devil Cat').

An unexpected gift resulting in a prophetic message prompted Ally to give her passion for writing the time it demanded, and in 2018 she joined Cathy Eden's Working with Words writers group. She credits the love, support, and inspiration of this group of talented women, her 'writing tribe' for encouraging her to put words on paper. She also joined ROSA, and while Romance is not her genre, this association has been an invaluable source of knowledge and insight into the indie publishing world.

Allowing her imagination freedom to roam resulted in various short stories, before one in particular rooted itself, evolving into her first full-length novel. This book has now become first in a series, with the second and third ready to follow, four and five in the planning stage. Who knew her characters would be so demanding.

Her love of writing fiction stems from her belief that it transports us to magical places when life gets too real.

Addicted to her friends, coffee, every colour of wine, and any type of chocolate, she describes her clan as the family and friends who have built her castle and keep her sane, without whom she'd be short on humour and drinking games. 

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Monday, September 25, 2023

Read a snippet from Dancing in the Ring by Susan E. Sage #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalBiographicalFiction #Historical Romance #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @SusanSage @cathiedunn

Dancing in the Ring
By Susan E. Sage

Detroit in the 1920s proved to be the Paris of the West for many – including Catherine McIntosh and Robert Sage. These two law school students become as passionate about each other as they are their dreams.

From a poor family in the Detroit neighborhood of Corktown, Catherine learned early on, the necessity of being resilient. She becomes one of the first women in Detroit to obtain a law degree. Bob, the ‘battling barrister,’ boxes in order to pay for law school. Despite his gruff and tough-boy personality, my great uncle Bob was a friend to all:  judges, cops, and even a couple members of the notorious Purple Gang. The couple becomes legendary in legal circles for their commitment to social justice causes – as well as notorious in the local speakeasies and dancehalls.

At first, their optimism seems boundless, as it had for so many following an era of trauma and challenges that include the 1918 flu pandemic. It isn’t long before their passionate courtship turns into a tempestuous marriage. Then the Great Depression hits and their lives are forever changed. 

Publication Date: June 22, 2023
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Page Length: 350 
Genre: Historical Fiction / Historical Romance

Grab a copy HERE!
This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.


Anyone noticing the smartly dressed couple on the dance floor of the popular Graystone Ballroom would have said they looked perfectly matched, though the woman was a couple of inches taller. She wore an emerald green dress that followed her curves with a tight-fitting cloche hat. He was clad in a pinstriped suit and a bow tie. It was obvious they were in love, as they seemed oblivious to everyone but each other. She’d bend down a little to whisper something in his ear, and then he would murmur his response. No one would hear but her, and she would throw back her long neck and laugh. If you were dancing next to them, you might see their eyes in a half-closed swoon, and then how their eyelids lowered completely, as if to dispel some of the intense feelings between them—a passion that was close to overwhelming.

Catherine and Bob danced to song after song without taking a break. They couldn’t get enough of the popular tunes from Al Jolson, George Gershwin, and Bessie Smith...Certain she was on fire, she asked him if he could put her in a tub of ice. He laughed, twirled her, then dipped her with such grace, that the other dancers stood back to admire their moves.

Susan Sage has published three novels: Insominy (2015), A Mentor and Her Muse (2017), and Dancing in the Ring (2023). Her writing has appeared in various literary magazines and journals. She received her English degree from Wayne State University where she was a recipient of the Tompkins Award in creative writing.

Although a Detroit native, she has resided most of her adult life in Flushing, Michigan with her husband and two cats.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Read an interview with Rosemary Hayes, author of The King’s Command: For God or Country #HistoricalFiction #Huguenots #LouisXIV #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @HayesRosemary @cathiedunn

The King’s Command: For God or Country
By Rosemary Hayes

16 year old Lidie Brunier has everything; looks, wealth, health and a charming suitor but there are dark clouds on the horizon. Lidie  and her family are committed Huguenots and Louis XIV has sworn to stamp out this ‘false religion’ and make France a wholly Catholic country. Gradually Lidie’s comfortable life starts to disintegrate as Huguenots are stripped of all rights and the King sends his brutal soldiers into their homes to force them to become Catholics. Others around her break under pressure but Lidie and her family refuse to convert. With spies everywhere and the ever present threat of violence, they struggle on. Then a shocking betrayal forces Lidie’s hand and her only option is to try and flee the country. A decision that brings unimaginable hardship, terror and tragedy and changes her life for ever.

‘One of the very best historical novels I have ever read’
Sandra Robinson, Huguenot Ancestry Expert

Publication Date: July 3rd, 2023
Publisher: Sharpe Books
Page Length: 415
Genre: Historical Fiction

Grab a copy HERE!

This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.


Writing Interview Questions

Why did you choose to write your book in this era?

I had always known that I had Huguenot ancestors but I didn’t know why they came to England in the late 17th century. Then a chance remark by a cousin sparked my interest. ‘They fled persecution,’ she said. I decided to find out more.

Did you find researching this era particularly difficult? What was the hardest thing to find out, and did you come across anything particularly surprising?

Many of those who try to trace their Huguenot roots find the process laborious and frustrating, coming across contradictions and going down blind alleys, but I was lucky. A lot is known about my Huguenot forebears so it wasn’t particularly hard to find out about them. They feature in the Annals of the Huguenot Society and some meticulous research was done on them by an Edwardian ancestor of mine, so I had a head start. 

I knew where they lived in France; in a small town in Gascony, not far from Bordeaux. I knew what they did (they were predominately lawyers, physicians and minor nobles) and that they were friends with other prominent Protestant families in the region with whom they inter married and socialised. The Edwardian ancestor states that they lived just outside the town centre in ‘the pleasant faubourg’ and, although I found no evidence of this, it seems likely to be true. And I knew that they fled to London in 1692.

The King’s Command is only very loosely based on the experience of these ancestors of mine and I’ve given them strong and individualistic characters, probably making them more interesting than they were in reality. I’ve invented a lot of other characters, too, and included a great deal of tension and jeopardy in the plot.

The most surprising thing, to me, was to discover the level of hatred between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots) in France during the 16th and 17th centuries and the determination of Louis XIV to stamp out Protestanism – the ‘false religion’ as he called it – by any means.

Can you share something about the book that isn’t covered in the blurb?

There are two slow-burning love stories in the book and some near misses when the main protagonists are nearly caught when they are trying to escape. Also, there’s a strong willed young maid who plays a crucial part in the story. I became very fond of her. I know what happens to her, but no one else does!

If you had to describe your protagonist(s), in three words, what would those three words be and why?

Lidie is the main protagonist. Devout, determined, passionate. She has to be devout, otherwise she could have taken the easy way out and denied her faith, and determined, for the same reason. But she’s full of joie de vivre, too, adores beautiful clothes and is a passionate lover.

What was the most challenging part about writing your book?

Probably describing the death of a child.

Was there anything that you edited out of this book that would have drastically affected the story, should it be left in?

No. I did a lot of editing, but this was removing ploddy prose, repetition and preachiness.

What are you currently working on?

A trilogy of novellas that have been commissioned by my publisher. They will be set at the time of the Napoleonic wars and feature a flawed, ex military spy. 

What would you tell an aspiring author who had some doubts about their writing abilities?

Keep writing. The more you write, the better you will be. Do a little every day and crack on, even if you aren’t feeling inspired. You can always come back to your writing later and redraft. And read lots; see how writers you admire bring places and people to life.

Personal Interview questions.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

So many things! Seeing friends, travelling, reading, listening to music, going to concerts and the theatre, singing, walking, eating good food.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to write stories. I first sent a story to a publisher when I was ten! I’m sure it was terrible and I wish I had kept it. Needless to say, the publisher rejected it, but they did send me a lovely encouraging letter, too.

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating?

As I write, it’s a very hot day, so it will probably be a salad of some sort, almost certainly involving an avocado pear.  But I quite fancy lobster.

What would be a perfect day?

A day spent with my whole family, eating, drinking, chatting, walking dogs in glorious countryside and then watching the sun go down.

What is the best part of your day?

I work best in the morning; the middle of the day is often a bit soggy. And the evening is the time for relaxing.

Either or!

Tea or coffee: definitely coffee

Hot or cold: hot mostly

Movie or book: book

Morning person or Night owl: morning

City or country: I love living in the country but always enjoy my jaunts to the city

Social Media or book: book

Paperback or ebook: both. If I’ve enjoyed an ebook then I’ll buy the pb.

Rosemary Hayes has written over fifty books for children and young adults. She writes  in different genres, from edgy teenage fiction (The Mark), historical fiction (The Blue Eyed Aborigine and Forgotten Footprints), middle grade fantasy (Loose Connections, The Stonekeeper’s Child and Break Out) to chapter books for early readers and texts for picture books. Many of her books have won or been shortlisted for awards and several have been translated into different languages.

Rosemary has travelled widely but now lives in South Cambridgeshire. She has a background in publishing, having worked for Cambridge University Press before setting up her own company Anglia Young Books which she ran for some years. She has been a reader for a well-known authors’ advisory service and runs creative writing workshops for both children and adults.

Rosemary has recently turned her hand to adult fiction and her historical novel ‘The King’s Command’ is about the terror and tragedy suffered by the French Huguenots during the reign of Louis XIV.

Website • Twitter • Amazon Author Page • Goodreads

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Read my review of Frogman's Response by Heidi Voss #YoungAdult @rarevoss @RABTBookTours

Frogman's Response
By Heidi Voss

Matthew Shaw is banned from his school's online counseling forum. Is it a crime his advice posts and anarchy blog are more popular than those on the school website? Though he's being as sincere as possible, Matthew, posting as "Frogman" online, wreaks havoc at Henry Blake High with advice that causes breakups, instigates a cheerleader fistfight, and turns a school assembly into an angry mob. When Matthew's private notebook goes missing, he worries not only about blowing his secret identity but about being suspended and ruining his shot to escape Mom's hoarding house.

YA Fiction
Date Published: 09-06-2021
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Grab a copy HERE!


Matthew Shaw’s ‘Frogman’ posts on the school’s online counseling forum are a massive part of his life. He loves playing such an influential role, and people seem to like his advice over that of the school counselor. So, when the school ban him, and any Frogman derivative name he comes up with, from the forum, he has to do something.

Teaming up with some unlikely friends, Matthew creates a blog, full of anarchy and publishes posts fighting against the school. He resurrects Frogman, and starts trying to recreate his infamy on his own site. But things don’t run quite as smoothly as he might have hoped. His words still influence people’s decisions and actions, but rather than simply encouraging students to follow their own desires, Matthew causes chaos. Breakups, fights, wide-spread anger throughout the school… it reaches a point where Matthew must decide whether it is still safe for Frogman to exist.

Matthew is a character in a very difficult situation. He lives for his Frogman posts because his life at home is not good. He lives alone with his mother, who is a hoarder and clutters their life with junk. Matthew hates going home to a house he can barely walk through, full of his mother’s mess, but he has no other choice. At least his room is clean. I really disliked Matthew’s mother in this book. Not only does she have no respect for him at all, or allow him many freedoms, she tries to blame things on him that are not his fault. The kitchen may be filthy, but none of the plates are Matthew’s, as he pretty much lives off granola bars due to his lack of money, and to avoid conversation with his mother over food, or if she cornered him while he was in the kitchen.

The school is portrayed as, in my opinion, quite a rough school. There are some people who treat it as if it were posh and believe that everyone must follow all the rules, but a fair amount of the pupils get into fights, and arguments in the classroom are to be expected and tolerated. There is a massive lack of funding for the school, and people fight to keep their clubs running when there is not necessarily the money for everyone. In another school, Matthew’s posts may have had a completely different effect, but in one where there is already tension, and ‘school spirit’ is ridiculous, as there is nothing about their school that the students can really brag about, he just adds to the disgruntlement amongst the student population. 

This book felt quite real in the telling, as there are no magic fixes to anything. Matthew is behind on classwork, and he can’t just spend one evening on homework and catch up, it is a long haul of hard work he must commit to. His home life isn’t going to significantly improve after an argument where his mother suddenly sees his point of view and changes her ways. This book isn’t about Matthew going from a bad situation to a good one, but follows him through a small part of his life where he makes some mistakes at school, and has to deal with the consequences. He spends a lot of time worrying about school, as even though he doesn’t put much effort in, he is terrified that he won’t be able to get into college and escape home. 

Although the chapters in this book are likely no shorter than any other book I’ve read recently, they felt quite short. This book is an incredibly easy read, and you can fly through the chapters. This did mean it was very easy to fall into the ‘just one more chapter’ scenario, as you can always justify reading another chapter if the chapters do not take long to read. I found myself sneaking in a quick chapter whenever I had the chance, and I read this book in no time at all. I loved reading this book, and looked forward to getting home from work to sit down and get back to reading it. If I had the time, I easily could’ve read this whole book in one sitting. It drew me in, and I didn’t want to put it down. I think this book would make a great teen film, and I’d love to see it on the screen. As an adult I loved reading it, and I know as a teen I would’ve loved it as well. It definitely suits it’s target audience, and was a great read!

Heidi Voss’ debut novel Frogman’s Response has been praised as being “instantly engaging” and her award winning short fiction has been featured in multiple anthologies. When not writing or promoting her work, she enjoys video games and exercise.

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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Read a guest post by Heidi Eljarbo, author of The London Forgery (A Fabiola Bennett Mystery) #TheLondonForgery #fabiolabennett #DualTimelineMystery #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @HeidiEljarbo @cathiedunn

The London Forgery
A Fabiola Bennett Mystery
By Heidi Eljarbo

1973. Art historian Fabiola Bennett sees herself as a prudently observant deer who becomes a daring and even mischievous lioness if the situation calls for it. And that’s exactly what’s required when greedy criminals steal, forge, and tamper with treasured artwork. When the crooks add murder to their list of crimes, the chaos is complete.

A mysterious note is delivered anonymously at the door of the National Gallery in London, and the director immediately calls Fabiola’s office in Oslo and pleads with her to come without delay. The message is confusing, but it seems one of her favorite eighteenth-century portraits is in trouble.

Fabiola hops on the first plane and meets up with her vibrant side-kick Pippa Yates and the ever-loyal Detective Inspector Cary Green from New Scotland Yard. But she is not naïve enough to think untangling the purpose and meaning of the mysterious note will be as simple as a walk in Hyde Park. These things never are.

1750. Newly married Robert and Frances Andrews, members of the landed gentry of Suffolk, England, hire young and talented Thomas Gainsborough to paint their wedding portrait. Their desire is a lovely conversation piece showing their wealth and class, an artwork to remember them by for generations to come.

Little do they know the gifted artist portrays their personalities exactly how he perceives them, and the artistic symbolism is not as flattering as they’d hoped for. Even the looming clouds in the distance promise a troublesome future.

This is the first book in a new dual timeline series by Heidi Eljarbo—an intriguing spin-off from the much-loved Soli Hansen Mysteries.

Fans of Lucinda Riley, Rhys Bowen, Kathleen McGurl, Kate Morton, and Katherine Neville will love this cozy historical art mystery, which takes the readers back to the nostalgia of the groovy seventies and the classical Georgian era of the eighteenth century.

Publication Date: 29th August 2023
Publisher: self-published
Page Length: about 252
Genre: Historical Mystery / dual timeline historical fiction

Grab a copy HERE!
This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.


Throughout the centuries, paintings and sculptures have been stolen, forged, resold, used as collateral for loans, looted, robbed, art napped, defrauded, vandalized, smuggled, plundered by Nazis… Sadly, the list is long. Some of these art crimes are well-known. The most famous art heist is probably from 1911 when Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris. In fact, the Mona Lisa was not as famous as it is today before it was stolen. Suddenly, all eyes of the world were on the small portrait, and it became impossible to sell it because of its fame. Fortunately, to all who want to see the mysterious lady in the Louvre today, it was recovered after two years and is since then safely guarded in the Paris gallery.

So, what is the motive for stealing such artifacts? In some areas of the world, special art can have cultural value, some paintings are targeted because the artist is famous, others because the artwork has a price tag far beyond what the average buyer can afford. Often, there’s a combination of reasons.

During WWII, Hitler had a goal of building an enormous art museum in his hometown Linz, Austria. As a young man, Hitler had applied for the Viennese art school twice and not been accepted. He kept painting, and when he became Der Führer, he had many of his soldiers work on their artistic talents, as well. He preferred nationalistic, classic artwork and banned the more modernist art. The Nazis looted a staggering number of 600 000 paintings from Jews alone. Some have been recovered—in 2011, more than 1500 paintings were found in a small apartment in Munich—but many are still lost.

Art destruction is another heartbreaking chapter in the history of art. Again, the Mona Lisa and Rembrandt’s Night Watch have been under attack several times. These are just a couple of examples of vandalism. Sometimes, protesters and climate activists ruin artwork to make a statement. Other times, art is destroyed by desperate people or in wartime situations. Some famous artists like Michelangelo and Monet have even destroyed their own art because of a violent outburst or even disappointment.

The London Forgery is the first book in a new series about art historian Fabiola Bennett who travels to different places to solve art crimes. In this novel, she’s asked to help the National Gallery in London; one of Fabiola’s favorite paintings is in trouble. The dual-timeline novel has a second story where we go further back in time to Thomas Gainsborough who painted the masterpiece.

Readers of my books may have already read the four books in the Soli Hansen Mysteries which are situated in Oslo during WWII. Soli goes undercover and works with the Resistance to rescue artwork from Nazi looting. The fun thing is, the new Fabiola Bennett Mystery Series is a spin-off from the Soli Hansen Mysteries. Fabiola is Soli’s daughter—also a sleuth—and a brilliant art historian with an eidetic memory. 

I hope you’ll enjoy The London Forgery and read about the making of Thomas Gainsborough’s famous masterpiece Mr. and Mrs. Andrews in 1750, and the desperation of an art historian in 1973, who risks all to find out what has happened to the portrait.

Happy reading!

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don't want to go near.

Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.

After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have fifteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.

Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.

Heidi’s favorites are family, God's beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

Sign up for her newsletter at https://www.heidieljarbo.com/newsletter

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