Changes!

It’s been a bit of a busy time for me, of late!

Rights were released to me for the following: The Éire’s Viking Trilogy, An Unexpected Woman, and Justin’s Second Chance. They all have new covers!

new cover collage with label

They are being offered on several different platforms. More information can be found on my new home: www.sandilayne.com.

I know, it’s a stretch. 😉

The first book of the trilogy is now available as an eBook for only 99 cents, while the others can still be purchased for $4.99. An Unexpected Woman is now only $2.99.

Something that isn’t changing, though, is my commitment to watching, live-tweeting, and posting about History Channel’s awesome show VIKINGS. Lissa Bryan and I will continue to follow, comment, and go all nerdy fangirl as the show moves forward after the death of Ragnar Lo∂brok. The show’s creators have been sharing teasers and the cast has been tweeting about Season SIX! Filming has already started!

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If you’re looking for our posts on this show, do a search here on my site for #VIKINGS here after clicking the menu icon on the top right corner. (As I’ve just reworked this WordPress site, this might change in the future as I see what might work better for the purpose; please be patient with me.)

I can still be found on Twitter at @sandyquill and on Tumblr at sandyquill.tumblr.com.

 

 

Cover Reveal – LISSA BRYAN

She’s my partner in (VIKINGS) mayhem, and I’m so excited to be able to share the cover of her upcoming novel!

I read the initial trilogy of her series and you can find my review for the last one in The End of all Things trilogy here. This is Next Generation and it looks amazing.


ebook-cover

Release Date: December 3rd 2016

Published by: The Writers Coffee Shop

Genre: Fiction, Dystopian

Available from:

Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Powells, AbeBooks and TWCS PH

~~GIVEAWAY~~

Click HERE for your chance to win!

~~EXCERPT~~

She woke to the sound of screams and gunfire.

Taylor sat up, looking around her darkened room, holding her breath as she listened. For a moment, all she heard was the pounding of her own heart, and then there was another shriek, this one not far away. Taylor rolled out of her bed and crouched low, heading for the window. She used the side of her fist to rub away some of the grime that coated the glass on the inside, though the outside was still clouded so all she could see was an ominous orange glow and wavering shadows.

Oh shit, oh shit.

Feet pounded down the sidewalk in front of her room, and the shadowy outline of human forms darted past her windows. Someone was crying, horrible sharp sobs.

Taylor crept to the other side of the window where a hole had been broken out of one of the panes. She slowly pulled out the rag stuffed in the gap and peered through. A body lay in the parking lot outside her window, and she smothered a gasp by pressing a hand to her mouth. The bloodied head was turned away from her, but she recognized the tangle of blond curls and the green sweatpants the body wore. It was Grace, and she was dead.

Tears burned in Taylor’s eyes, but she forced them down, swallowing hard. A loud bang drew her gaze, and she saw a man with a rifle kick in the door of a room on the opposite side of the parking lot. He charged in and emerged seconds later, dragging a kicking and screaming woman by her hair.

Time to go. Taylor didn’t know what was going on, but she could figure that out later.

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~~SUMMARY~~

A generation has passed since the pandemic known only as the Infection ended the world as we know it. In a little town in the Appalachian Mountains, Taylor has known only a harsh and brutal struggle for survival in a land littered with the rusted-out remnants of a lost world. By day, she labors in a coal mine. In the evenings, she tends a secret collection of beehives, and uses the honey to pay for lessons in survival skills, such as hunting, fishing and collecting herbs. Her home is a single room in a crumbling old motel, and her only companion is a pet box tortoise named Go she’s had since she was a child.

When her town is destroyed by a vicious gang of raiders known as the Nine, Taylor escapes with Dylan, the son of the mayor. Their only plan is to head south and escape the Nine’s vast territory, avoiding areas contaminated by meltdowns and industrial pollution where mysterious illnesses plague the residents.

Dylan has never known hunger or hardship and struggles to learn survival skills. He’s never known a woman like Taylor either. He tries to pay her back by teaching her to read and telling her the stories passed down from the world of Before.

They certainly didn’t plan on falling in love. Taylor fights it every step of the way, because in her world, any emotional attachment is dangerous. She’s been taught since childhood that love slows you down, makes you weak. But the feelings growing between them cannot be denied.

Taylor finds herself slowly breaking every one of her hard-learned rules of survival. She discovers that perhaps some of those things she’s always fought to avoid are the very things that make life worth living.

. . . And death shall have no dominion . . .”

GoodreadsAdd to Want To Read List

~~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~~

lbryan

Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot . . . though only in her head. Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.

She is the author of five other novels, Ghostwriter, The End of All Things, its sequels, The Land of the Shadows and Shadows Have Gone, and Under These Restless Skies.

 ~~CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR~~

Facebook * Website * Twitter

Praise for 

The End of All Things Series

Hope, love, and the strength of the human spirit are the backbone of this surprisingly uplifting offering from Lissa Bryan. ~ CBL Book Reviews

The End of All Things is more about hope and second chances, and I very much enjoyed the tale …. highly recommended for all fans of apocalyptic fiction. It’s a well-written book with excellent pace, plot, and best, it has real soul. ~ Jade Kerrion, Goodreads

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Novella on the way!

rr-cover-copy

I’ve got a new story coming out soon. 🙂

As you can imagine from the image above, it takes place during World War II, framed by more contemporary references for my main character, Rosemarie.

This is kind of a special story to me, as it is inspired by the personal memoirs of my Great Aunt, Rose Mary Pritchard, who was indeed one of many “Rosies” who were riveters during World War II. Riveting Rosie is not her story, but Great Aunt Rose Mary will definitely recognize Rosemarie. 😉

More details as I have a firm date of availability!

The #ShieldGeeks Discuss Vikings: Yol

“These chicks are machines!” – The No Ship Network

(check them out for their podcasted recaps and feedback ‘casts!)
VIKINGS banner

This and all images from Vikings are the property of the History Channel. I use them only for illustrations regarding their show.

146a6-lissa-bryanHeillir!

Lissa Bryan and I like to call ourselves the Shieldmaidens of History: Protecting the Innocent from Anachronisms. We’re excited to bring you our recap and discussion of each episode of History Channel’s series VIKINGS.

Lissa Bryan is an awesome historian as well as a writer of historical and End of the World as We Know It romantic fiction. Check out the review I wrote for her book, The End of All Things here.


Lissa: Well, here we are again, and saying as we always do that it was an awesome episode. Some amazing things happened, and there were some huge developments.

Sandi: It really was and there really were! I feel like the stories will be moving forward much more purposefully, now.

Lissa: We began with a scene of Ragnar in a tub in his hall. A wood tub this time, at least. cough copper cough

Sandi: Yes, a smallish tub, as well. Which makes sense, considering. Deep enough to immerse himself if he is sitting or squatting in the water, but it’s not a luxury. The Norse were clean people and liked their baths, but heating up water would have taken a long time so a more compact tub is necessary.

ragnar to yidu bathLissa: He’s talking to Yidu, the Shiny New Slave Girl Aslaug purchased.  He says death has been much on his mind. The death of children, the deaths of friends, and his own death, which has so far eluded him. He says sometimes he doesn’t know whether to kill himself, or everyone around him. He seems to feel safe in confiding his inner torments to her, perhaps because of her slave girl status.  While he’s talking, Yidu struggles to carry over a bucket of hot water to the tub, and when pouring it in, she splashes the king and spills most of it on the floor. Ragnar tsks as he looks over the edge of the tub.

Sandi: And while this is happening, Aslaug is watching from behind the latticework that separates the rooms in the Hall. This is only fair; Ragnar spies on others often from there. I am impressed that Yidu has become so proficient in Norse at this juncture. By her own (later) admission, she’s been enslaved by the Franks, so her ability to learn Norse indicates that she is gifted with languages. [Like some others we’ll discuss later!]

Lissa: In Mercia, Kwenthrith is looking much recovered. She joins Ecbert and his court for Epiphany dinner. Because it’s a fasting meal, they’re having simple gruel. King Aelle is there, and he’s not best pleased with what’s been going on. He’s full of anger and a thirst for vengeance. Queen Kwenthrith asks if that desire for vengeance against Ragnar extends to her son, Ragnar’s bastard. Aelle doesn’t answer.

Sandi: I love how you pick up on the details! It’s good to see King Aelle, here, as he’s quite a major player at this time in history. To date, he’s rather been given short shrift. And I’m thinking, since Magnus’s paternity is so widely accepted, that the consensus is that he will remain Ragnar’s son (Ragnarson!) for the duration.

Lissa: Later, we see Aelle confront Judith, his daughter. He’s outraged that she’s had a bastard baby with a priest who became a Viking, is blaspheming by daring to put her female hands all over the holy scriptures, and he’s infuriated to see her over-familiarity with her father-in-law. Judith gives him a radiant smile and says that no man controls her now. She is free. She is able to say such a thing, of course, because she’s under Ecbert’s protection at the moment and Aelle needs him as an ally, but historically speaking, a woman in the Christian world was under the control of her father or her husband until the day she died. Failing that, it was her son who would grow up to take authority over her. Very few women were “free.”

Sandi: Oh, I have all kinds of worries for Judith, now. She seems to see herself as untouchable, thanks to Sugar-Daddy-in-Law, but we know that Ecbert is a snake in the grass. Corrupt, by his own admission, and willing to turn on his allies if it suits him to do so. Judith, played brilliantly by Jennie Jacques, has such a defiance in her gaze as she stares at her father. She acts as if she’s queen in her own right and unassailable. But, we know that freedom for her is tenuous at best and almost certainly illusory.

ivar not like youLissa: Back in Kattegat, they’re preparing for Jól, or as it’s usually rendered in English, “Yule.”  The log is brought into the hall and laid on the fire, and they’re decorating with mistletoe. Ragnar watches the boys and approaches little Ivar, who’s sitting to the side. He tries to lift the child and coax him into hanging a mistletoe branch, but Ivar refuses. Aslaug steps in and sweeps the boy into her arms. She angrily tells Ragnar that Ivar is different from the others, despite his protests that the boy won’t feel like he’s a “cripple” if she doesn’t treat him like one. She tells Ragnar that Ivar isn’t like him, and Ragnar can’t make the child like him. From her tone, it’s obvious she doesn’t want Ivar to have a close relationship with his father. The boy is hers and hers alone.

Sandi: I prefer Jól and will continue to use it here. I was pleased to see Ragnar acting all “daddy” with his son Ivar. Ragnar has always been an excellent father to his young children. He cherishes them. But Aslaug’s attitude is understandable as well. Ragnar exposed Ivar—as was his right and as was customary for a father and king to do when a child was so obviously malformed—and Aslaug rescued him. That Ragnar did not insist upon the boy’s death, as he could have done, thereafter shows his love for his child, to be sure. But Aslaug claims this boy because she brought him back from the death that he would have known. Additionally, she knows very well how fond Ragnar is of his sons and I’m sure she’s ready to hit him where it hurts, here. Besides, she has plans.

Lissa: Floki enters the Seer’s hut. The Seer stirs from his bed, seemingly still half in his dreams. He says to Floki that he’s waited years, centuries, for him to come, and it’s time to show the Seer who Floki really is. Floki extends his palm, and the Seer licks it. A shudder passes through Floki and he begins to giggle. Giggle like the old “deliciously mad” Floki used to giggle, but there’s a desperate edge to it, as though his eyes have been opened, and he saw far too much in that instant.

floki and seer

Sandi: The Seer’s whole aspect is different in this scene. I get the sense that he is, in some way, passing the torch to Floki. That the Seer licked Floki’s hand is perhaps symbolic of such a change. As always, there is an air of the supernatural in this show, so it is entirely possible that Floki did see more than he expected at that instant. I was surprised to see that Floki was actually in Kattegat, to be honest. I had expected him to be exiled. But it is clear that Floki and Helga are re-established in their village, and Floki has no fears about visiting the Seer.

Lissa: In Paris, Rollo is confronted by a bishop bearing a scroll. The bishop announces that Rollo’s marriage to I-Forgot-How-to-Princess Le Pew is to be annulled for non-consummation. Rollo steps forward and begins to speak in perfect French. He says he has learned the language, and that he is committed to his marriage, and to Paris. He swears he will die to defend Paris against his brother, Ragnar.

Sandi: This was a pleasant surprise—that Rollo spoke in the language of the Franks, not that there was an annulment in the offing. And Rollo’s promise to fight against his brother is strong and well presented. Many in the Vikings fandom believe that, this time?, he means it. No more doubling back for Rollo. Historically, Rollo becomes Robert (well, that was one of the names he is known by) and remains the first Duke of Normandy. It behooved him, certainly, to become fluent in French.

Lissa:  But I was wrong about what they’re celebrating by a few days. It was Epiphany, which is January 6th. So, Rollo actually learned his excellent French in little less than a month. Still quite impressive, non?

Sandi: Oui! And his skills with his tongue, ahem, are later proved, are they not?

Lissa:  His words resonate with Gisla and she dismisses the bishop and all of her attendants. She speaks candidly to Rollo for the first time. She’s touched he took the effort to learn French, but isn’t sure if he’s really sincere. He is still, after all, a Viking at heart. He tells her he slaughtered his own men for her, which she says is a pretty Viking thing to do. She grills him to find out how deeply he’s commitment to this marriage, and his promise to defend Paris.

Sandi: Her entire attitude changes as soon as he opens his mouth. Does she suddenly see him as an incredibly attractive man, (because CLIVE STANDEN) that she has the incredible good luck to be married to, because he speaks in a language she can understand? Is that really all she needed?

Lissa: In response, Rollo takes off his torc. He holds it up and says that it’s something that matters a great deal to him, and hands it to her to do with as she will. Gisla takes it. The next time we see them together, they’re consummating the marriage.

Sandi: The removal of his armband is hugely symbolic. I’m not at all sure that Gisla has a clue about that; what she likely sees is that he’s offering her a bangle. But for Rollo, that’s a visible symbol about his loyalties, his ties of blood to his brother, nephews, and friends back home. The men he led, the men he’s killed. All of that is encompassed in that slender band. And he removes it. Something he’s condemned others for doing in the past. It’s an enormous moment, I think. So, yes. Now they can consummate the marriage. And they do. Loudly.

aslaug as procuressLissa: In Kattegat, Aslaug comes into the bedroom. Ragnar is sprawled on the bed. She speaks to him about her slave girl, Yidu, and asks if Ragnar likes her. Aslaug says Ragnar can have her if he wishes; Aslaug won’t be jealous. Ragnar expresses mild interest in the idea.  Of course, queens have always “managed” their husbands in a similar fashion, trying to steer them toward mistresses who wouldn’t be harmful to the queen’s interests, but Aslaug is probably being more blatant with the subject than queens would usually be, and she’s as casual as though she’s offering Ragnar one of her horses.

Sandi: It may seem cold, but in general, remember, marriages were political things. The marriage of Aslaug and Ragnar here is a deviation rather than the rule. Aslaug is more blatant, yes, but Ragnar—though perhaps a slave to his, er, interests?—isn’t stupid. That his wife was blatant is a double-sided situation. Yes, he has permission after a fashion but there would be suspicion, too. What is Aslaug planning?

ragnar yidu convoLissa: Ragnar goes out to find Yidu, and she’s wrestling with some of the barnyard critters, to no avail. That girl just has no luck with animals. Ragnar pulls her over to the barn, none-too-gently. He asks Yidu how she became a slave. Yidu tells a story of being captured from a ship she was traveling on with her family. Ragnar asks her if she was raped by her captors, and Yidu denies it. Ragnar grips her by the throat and demands to know why. She says they were too afraid. He takes a cloak from a nail and wraps it around her shoulders. He tells her to follow him because he wants to show her something. Yidu looks terrified, but she follows him.

Sandi: So here, we had a ton of speculation on twitter last night. Yidu wasn’t raped, but is she a virgin? Virgins were highly prized but it is vastly unlikely that if she had been one on the journey to Paris, she would have lost that status shortly thereafter once she’d been purchased. Unless. Unless she has some other status she can claim. You mentioned, Lissa, that we don’t know if she’d been married, before. She might be a widow, in which case her virtue would have not been an issue in her slave status; she would have been considered “available”. Which isn’t pretty, I know, but slavery is an ugly thing. She’s young and pretty; if she hasn’t been raped, then she must have some other kind of status that has kept her relatively safe. And we know it’s not her skill with animals! Is she a mystic? A wielder of supernatural powers? There were many opinions.

Lissa: Björn is still in the wilderness man hut. He’s tattooing his own skin with an awl-like implement. He goes outside and encounters the Grunting, Growling Berserker. (Can I just call him Growler for short?) Growler has laid a multitude of anachronistic iron leg traps for Björn, sprung by trip wires with hooks. When Björn reaches him, they battle, and Björn swings a collection of the hook wires he’s collected. They catch Growler across the face, and Björn uses it to bind him to a tree and disarm him. He asks a few times who sent Growler, who replies with… well, growls. He pulls the ring from Growler’s finger and asks who sent him, but Growler refuses to answer. Björn tries a bit of torture, but apparently gets impatient with it and disembowels Growler.

Sandi: Björn’s tattooing methods are painful, but quite accurate I think, for the time and place. So, he’s performed cautery on himself as well as body art. The man must be a glutton for pain. The battle, aside from the anachronistic elements, is good. If Growler is a true berserker, though, he’s not quite on his game. He seems to feel the wounds he’s received with more awareness than was often the case with a true berserker. Those men, whether by virtue of mushrooms or meditation or sheer will, often fought past human endurance because they were unaware of their body’s condition. It was all about the motions of the battle. Here, though, Growler is not so unaware and he is defeated.

Lissa: Farewell, Grunting, Growling Berserker. We hardly knew ye.

Lissa: Ragnar takes Yidu to a cottage where he has quite a menagerie of animals. He has rats in cages suspended from the ceiling, and apparently a few snakes. At first, I wasn’t sure if Yidu was having a vision because the sight of a huge anaconda slithering down one of the poles beside her seemed so bizarrely out of place. But it appears that it was really there. It may be Ragnar’s replacement for Baby Goat. (Maybe it ate Baby Goat.) Perhaps Aslaug wouldn’t allow Ragnar to keep them in the house, and so Ragnar has retreated to his own King Cave, where he can have rats and snakes, and Shiny New Slave Girls.

ragnar snake swallowing

Sandi: This was really odd. I mean, sure, they’ve been doing the World Tour for years now, but it is rather convenient that the king has a menagerie that no one’s heard about before. His sons haven’t even mentioned it and boys love menageries. But okay. Suspend disbelief and move on. Ragnar used to surround himself with animals and we all miss Baby Goat. If the anaconda ate it…well…the circle of life and all that, yeah? Bringing his Shiny New Slave Girl here might be construed as ominous, however. She’s another exotic creature, like the anaconda. Is he putting her in his menagerie, too?

Lissa: He tells Yidu that this is his secret place, and no one comes here except for Ragnar. It’s the only place, he says, that he doesn’t feel alone. She’s free to come here any time she wants. In fact, she’s free to come and go as she pleases. Ragnar is freeing her. He tells her she’s a terrible slave. Really bad at it. And so he’s letting her go. Yidu can’t believe it and asks him if she’s really free to come and go as she pleases. Ragnar says certainly, she can go… if she really wants to. Yidu seems to understand this as the price of her freedom. She approaches Ragnar with something in her hand. She says she can tell he’s still in pain from the wounds he sustained in Paris, and she has some Chinese medicine which will help.

Sandi: So, here we see that she might indeed have had a gift/talent/ability that kept her from being molested during her life as a slave. So far, it’s worked on Ragnar, hasn’t it? But how free is free? Yidu is a slave. And slaves could indeed be free—thereafter to be freedmen or -women—but they had no status in that culture. They had to provide for themselves, and often wound up being servants anyway. If Yidu is a healer (rather like my own herbalist character in my trilogy), then she has status and a possible means of support. But will this be the case?

Lissa:  It seems to be opium, from Ragnar’s reaction to it, because in a few minutes, he’s literally hanging from the ceiling, wearing a bizarre carved mask that he must keep around the house for… some reason.

Sandi: This was surreal, as I am sure it was meant to be. The scene reminded me a bit of the first gathering in season one, when Gyda (sniff!) was still with us.

Lissa: Yidu contentedly chops herbs while Ragnar swings from the rafters, twirls torches, and apparently swallows one of his snake pets whole. It’s a bizarre scene that ends with him a hair’s breadth away from kissing her.

Sandi: Ah, yes. The classic “romance novel” moment: the almost-kiss. And…cut!  So, we are left to a better idea of what freedom means, here. It doesn’t mean Yidu gets a house of her own; a slave wouldn’t have been freed and given actual property of that sort without a ceremony, in all likelihood. This would have been done so that all in the community would know her new status and that no one would seek to punish her for claiming something a slave wouldn’t have been able to have. So, how free is Yidu? Will she abide with the other exotic curiosities of Ragnar’s Reserve?

Lissa: Aslaug goes to Floki and Helga’s house with Ivar in her arms. She says she wants Floki to teach him the ways of the gods, to teach him how to be a Viking. But most of all, she wants him to learn to hate the Christian god as Floki does.

aslaug ivar floki apprenticeSandi: The venom in her voice when she said this was really something! Her whole demeanor was vindictive.

Lissa: As I mentioned on Twitter last night, apprenticing Ivar to Floki to learn carving makes sense. The boy could acquire a very valuable trade that don’t require mobility, and that would make him an important part of their community despite the apparent disability in his legs. But Aslaug seems to be more focused on getting Ivar’s mind trained to hate Christians than in getting her son marketable skills.

Sandi: Oh, yes. But we know, from history, that Ivar doesn’t actually need those carving skills for his future. Still, it is wise of Aslaug to prepare him. She could have chosen any trade, really, but she was deliberate in her choice of Floki as his craftmaster.

bjorn returns

Lissa: Björn goes to Hedeby and finds his mother at her loom with Torvi. Kalf and Erlendur are also present. Björn greets his mother first. She’s relieved to see him alive and well, though the two men are most certainly not, and Björn is not warm toward them, either. He’s headed to Kattegat, and he offers to take Torvi with him, because her husband Erlendur treats her like a slave. Torvi doesn’t need to be asked twice. She wants to leave. But Erlendur says she cannot take her small son.

Sandi: However, in the Viking culture, if a father died, then the mother was granted custody of her children. That was generally how it went. So, on one hand, the child’s should be free to go with Torvi. Erlandur would have no say over his life as he is not the child’s father. He is head of the house, though, and clearly wants to use the boy as a tool. A lever, likely, or a hostage. Very not cool.

Lissa: Torvi is torn, but Lagertha tells her that life is short. She should go. Lagertha will care for the boy.

Sandi: I regard this as a bad move. Not that Lagertha couldn’t protect the boy—of course she could—but he shouldn’t be left behind. I hope my foreboding is unwarranted!

Lissa: In Paris, they’re sitting down for Epiphany dinner when Gisla enters. She has a confident smile on her face and a strut in her step. She beckons Rollo away from the table and they run off into the kitchen where they make loud, passionate love on the table after knocking all the food and dishes to the floor. Hygiene was not a priority in those days, let me tell you.

gisla struts

Sandi: Oh, Gisla was strutting. Strutting like she owned the world. Rather than pouting and holding her nose up in disdain, she is clearly now a woman empowered by personal, ahem, appreciation. Loud and passionate are understatements, I daresay. In a castle of that era, there was virtually no privacy and if the Lord and Lady were engaging in loud sex, everyone knew. But, I imagine that overall this was viewed with tolerance and relief, if not outright pleasure. (We’re not counting Darth Odious, here.)

Lissa: The dinner guests around the table, including a grouchy-looking Aelle, listen to the banging and the moans. We discussed briefly on Twitter that the Christian faith of the era, sex was forbidden during the 40 days before Christmas, and on feast days, like Epiphany. These two are definitely in for a lot of time in the confessional. (A Penitential from around this era can be viewed here http://www.anglo-saxon.net/penance/index.php?p=JUNIUS_94a&anchor=X15.09.01) It was lessened to twenty days during the medieval times, but boy, there were a lot of confusing rules in the era regarding when and how one could indulge in intercourse.

[Medieval sex flowchart here: http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/flowchart.png ]

Sandi: Thing is, what one was allowed to do versus what one actually did were two very different circumstances. And, of course, there was always a way to confess and do penance when one broke the rules.

liturgical sex tweet 1liturgical sex tweet part 2

Lissa: The scene is balanced by a view of the Vikings celebrating Jól, the snowy winter’s night brightly lit with torches. Ragnar, in red and black facepaint, lights the bonfire.

ragnar facepaintSandi: I really appreciated the contrasts, here. The differences in atmosphere, in wardrobe, in activity. Ragnar’s facepaint reminded me a bit of ancient Chinese art. (Peking opera painted face here: http://en.gmw.cn/2012-12/12/content_5994715_3.htm) I had to wonder if Yidu did his makeup?

Lissa: An interesting visitor arrives in Kattegat. Aslaug welcomes King Harald Finehair into her hall. After she offers him a drink, she asks why he’s here. Harald says he wants to meet Ragnar. Where is he, by the way? Aslaug smiles coolly and says he’ll meet Ragnar soon enough. They have dinner in the great hall and Harald offers to play a game of hnefatafl with Aslaug’s sons. While they play, Aslaug asks Harald again why he’s here. He says he made a promise to a princess. He wanted to marry her, but he wasn’t worthy of her, so he made it his ambition to become so. Shades of the “Princess Bride,” eh?

Sandi: Indeed! There’s quite a bit happening under the surface of this conversation. That Harald is balancing a game with the king’s sons with diplomatic conversation speaks well of his abilities, as I’m sure it’s meant to. He comes across as worldly and wise, but good-humored. A dangerous combination, all things being equal.

Lissa: His ambition was to become the king of all Norway and win her hand.

Sandi: Okay, so I was off a little. Apparently Harald Finehair became king of Norway in AD 872 (sorry!), but his reign extended until AD 930. Which is why I said 10th Century; that’s what was in my memory. I did a fact-check this morning and found the actual years. I also found that he was actually wanting to marry a girl named GYDA. Who wouldn’t marry him until he was king of all Norway. And considering there hadn’t been a king of all Norway to that point, this was being quite a definitive challenge.

Lissa: Historically, Harald Finehair gave the “king of all Norway” the old college try, anyway.

Aslaug smiles and asks why he didn’t just take the princess if he wanted her so badly. Harald says he’s really not sure. Aslaug says that a man who aspires to be the king of all Norway would have to kill her husband first. Harald doesn’t directly respond to that, as I imagine it would be impolitic in the extreme to say, “Yeah, lady, that’s why I’m here. Thanks for the mead and supper, btw.” Harald dramatically loses the game to the boys and congratulates them on their win.

harald finehairSandi: He is entirely charming, but also clearly calculating. I really enjoyed this picture of him. Which makes me feel guilty, because I am sure he’s not a “good guy” in this story.

Lissa: I interpreted this conversation to mean that Aslaug and Harald had a history. He was once one of her suitors, but she decided to decline his proposal, and so he went off on a journey of self-improvement, Vikings style, while Aslaug set her sights on Ragnar. Now Harald has come back and the woman he wants as his wife is married to the king standing in the way of his ambition to rule over all of Norway. Seems pretty clear what his path must be.

Sandi: That is a good interpretation, as this is a show of historical fiction, after all. (Consider, if Harald is seeking to be King of Norway in the future it can’t be too far in the future. The Vikings timeline (for this show) began in AD 792, according to the opening of the first season.)

Lissa: Ragnar enters the hall and sees that Björn is there in one slightly-bruised piece, but his attention is pulled away from his son when he spots Harald. He makes his way over to greet the rival king but his mind is obviously already spinning with what it might mean.

Sandi: Oh yes. Is this new fellow (who has more hair!) going to step in on his wife in a personal flirtation/affair? Well, as Harald seems to be quite at home on the dais, it would seem that he is rather more ambitious. Ragnar is well aware of room placement and how to present himself, after all. Yes, the man is suspicious. But he’s also been getting treated by a Chinese herbalist, one can assume, so perhaps he is up to the new challenge!


So much to wait for next week! I hope you’ll join us @LissaBryan and @sandyquill!

Heill þú farir, heill þú aftr komir, heill þú á sinnum sér!
Hale go forth, hale return, hale on your ways!  – Vafþrúðnismál

Book Review: Hidden in Mist

Hidden in MistHidden in Mist by Penina Keen Spinka

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been a fan of Penina’s Norse/Native American series since I first got the opportunity to read Picture Maker

Picture Maker by Penina Keen Spinka

many years ago. Her attention to the details not only of the daily lives in the different cultures, but also the particulars of their belief systems is well-presented, making the stories much more rich for the reader.

In Hidden in Mist, we get to read the culmination of the life stories of Picture Maker’s daughter and stepson – who is Ole Red Hair. We also step right into history to watch the horrific tribal wars of the Longhouse People and others, as well as the Great Peace brought by Deganawida. Legends are addressed in this series and embraced as history, giving us faces and depth to people only heard about.

There is warfare in this book, as there are movements for peace. There is romance, but not of the conventional “love story” variety. This is a book for those who enjoy the cultural history of the Native Americans and the Norse. I heartily recommend the entire series, of which this book is the last.

View all my reviews

The #ShieldGeeks Discuss VIKINGS: Mercy

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This and all images from Vikings are the property of the History Channel. I use them only for illustrations regarding their show.

 

146a6-lissa-bryanHeillir!

Lissa Bryan and I like to call ourselves the Shieldmaidens of History: Protecting the Innocent from Anachronisms. We’re excited to bring you our recap and discussion of each episode of History Channel’s series VIKINGS.

Lissa Bryan is an awesome historian as well as a writer of historical and End of the World as We Know It romantic fiction. Check out the review I wrote for her book, The End of All Things here.


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From realworldsurvivor.com

Lissa: We began the episode with Björn still on his vision quest. He’s setting a metal bear trap. A bit of an anachronism, here… The first mention of iron jaw traps like the one Björn used dates to about 1305 in the work of Crescentiis of Bologna. Björn’s trap probably would have been a torsion trap of wood and sinew. But we’ll add this to the “boot heel file” and move along, because it was a very interesting episode, and I’m sure our readers don’t really care much about the history of iron animal traps.

Sandi: For any newcomers, our “boot heel file” is where we tuck away anachronisms we find on the show. Such as modern soles on 9th Century footwear, punitive measures against unfaithful wives, and, er, advanced bear traps. Hard metals were difficult and expensive, in this time and place. Metallurgy included smelting and such, but the techniques were not well advanced until about the 15th Century. Björn must have had a lot of matériel under those furs he was wearing in the first episode, to be able to produce all that he has. Either that, or the hunting lodge was very well supplied.

helga as sigyn

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Lissa: In Kattegat, Floki is screaming in torment as the icy water drips on him in his prison cave. Helga – as Sigyn did for Loki – holds a bowl above his head to catch the water and ease his suffering. Her arms tremble from the effort, and when she goes to empty the bowl, she collapses in exhaustion, sleeping on the icy stone for just a few moments, until Floki’s cries of pain rouse her again. It’s a hellish punishment for the two of them. Maude Hirst’s acting was just remarkable in this episode, and the costuming/makeup departments did an extraordinary job, as well. She looked like a woman a hair’s-breadth away from utter breakdown.

Sandi: I saw and read commentary last week about Floki’s position here being almost Christ-like in appearance. I don’t think that was the intention, as the I’m sure that the writers were seeking to imitate the Loki/Sigyn story more than anything. But it was certainly ironic, intentional or otherwise. Many ancient societies used the stretched-torso method of torture, as it wore a person down in a surprisingly small amount of time. To add the water was just awful. Ragnar was certainly on target with his punishment here.

Lissa: In Hedeby, Lagertha is making love with Kalf. He rolls over afterward and tells her he loves her, and he always has. He thinks she’s still young enough to give him a child, and then his happiness will be complete. Lagertha doesn’t tell him of the Seer’s prophecy. She remains silent throughout it all. Kalf announces he needs to heed the call of nature, though not so poetically, and then heads outside.

sad lagertha s4e3 vikingshistorySandi: I am so not thrilled with the Kalfling. Wait, he’s getting older, too. Does that make him a bull instead of a calf? We know what bulls are full of, don’t we? I’ve so had it with this man, I have to say. He’s pretty, but I don’t trust him. Not a bit. He says one thing to Lagertha’s face and another to someone else. A politician? Certainly. Lagertha’s face fell when he mentioned having children by her. I imagine her pain at not being able to produce another son for Ragnar—a sad situation that began the dissolution of their wonderful marriage—is combined with the prophecy from the Seer for her, here.

Lissa: He is met by the Princeling, Erlendur, who tells him he’s heard that Björn is out on his own in a cabin – a perfect time to kill him. Kalf thinks that’s a fine idea. They decide to send a berserker to do the dastardly deed. He’s a very large, scarred man with a brutal-looking axe, who seems to communicate primarily with grunts and growls.

Sandi: This does a disservice to berserkers, in my opinion. Not the scars. They’d totally have them. But a berserker was a keen warrior who could be perfectly civilized when not in berserker mode (due to mushrooms or nakedness or whathaveyou). What I want to know is how long Lagertha would make Kalf’s demise last if she knew he was plotting to kill her only son? And if Kalf is not truly thus plotting, how long until the Princeling hamstrings him and feeds him to a bear?

Lissa: Meanwhile, Björn is tracking a bear – or rather, seeing signs of the bear here and there, and catching glimpses of it. He has some bear-murderin’ on his mind, there’s no doubt.

Sandi: Which is good, since he has the ultra-modern trap, no? I get that he is on his I’m a Man journey, but I can’t help but wonder if he’ll meet someone other than the scarred and growling hitman while he’s up in the Greater Whiter North.

Lissa: In Paris, “I Forgot How To Princess” Le Pew is causing embarrassing scenes again.

Sandi: This girl just doesn’t know how “to adult”, I think. Still wondering why she’s been written this way. (I know. I could go on for days on proper comportment of the medieval royal female… I’ll try to restrain myself.)

vikings_s4e3_disdainful GislaLissa: Her father brings in a relic of Saint Eulalia – it must be her feast day, December 10th. Chuck the Simple tells Gisla the story of the saint. It’s sort of an “As you know, Bob,” moment, because Gisla would probably be very aware of this saint. (The real Prudentius wrote about her, as an interesting tie-in.) Girls of that era particularly venerated virgin martyrs. In any case, Gisla remarks that her horrid husband is just like the pagans who slaughtered Eulalia, and he’d probably like to burn her alive, too.

Sandi: This type of thing is actually something one can see Eleanor of Aquitaine saying—but only at the height of her influence and power. Gisla has potential, but she’s unwise as yet.

Lissa: Rollo munches on some chicken, oblivious for the most part, to his wife’s sniping. When she stands up and dramatically demands a divorce, Rollo stands, too. He says, “My woman,” and takes her arm. Gisla shrieks she’ll never be his and throws a goblet of wine in his face before storming out.

wine in face s4e3

Sandi: Rollo has a hard job, here. He knows his wife has taken him in aversion. He doesn’t yet speak the language, he’s doing his level best to conform—knowing that it has cost him men from his own place and people, and knowing it will effectively cut him off from Ragnar forever—and he’s trying, here. Trying to read her cues if not her words. And he gets publicly humiliated. Again. Granted, he’s not Mr. Perfect, but he is trying.

gisla wants a divorceLissa: Her personal feelings for her husband aside, Gisla has to know how badly they need Rollo as an ally. We’ve mocked her for not behaving with the decorum of a princess of her age, but more important is her complete lack of regard as a politician. She wanted her father to respect her political mind, but she can’t seem to stop herself from going out of her way to publicly humiliate and insult a crucial ally. It’s my opinion the show would have served her character far better by showing her struggling to behave herself in public, and perhaps unleashing on him in their private quarters. I’d have respected her far more, in any case.

Sandi: I am so with you, here.

Lissa: Rollo drinks the rest of his own goblet, then drops it to the table. He then proceeds to walk over the table and start out of the room, but the looks the courtiers are giving him are too much for him to handle. He turns around and roars at a young girl and she screams in terror.

Sandi: . . . Yeah, well. Not perfect. He’s probably figured out some of Gisla’s more colorful and derisive vocabulary at this point. “If they’re going to call me a beast, I can act like one!”

Lissa: Chuck and Darth Odious are alarmed by this turn of events. If Rollo leaves, as he seems bent on doing, they’ll be defenseless when Ragnar returns. Chuck sends Odious to try to soothe Rollo. In his chamber, Rollo manages to use a combination of mime and pointing to books to show Odo that he wants to learn how to speak French. Odo promises to get him a tutor, relieved that Rollo will stay at least long enough for lessons.

Sandi: The quick conference that took place between Darth Odious and Rollo was really well done, in my opinion. No translation was given, as I mentioned last night.

no translation for rollo tweet

Sandi: That Odo was determined to get Rollo to agree to a joint action was absolutely obvious. That Rollo tried hard to make himself understood was equally certain. But as to how they actually communicated? That remains to be seen. How much was truly understood?

Lissa: Back in Kattegat, King Ragnar strides into Floki’s prison cave. He asks Helga if she’s told Floki yet… and of course Floki wants to know what he was talking about. Helga has to reluctantly inform Floki that Angrboda has died. Floki’s cries of agony increase.

Sandi: I feel as if Ragnar was wreaking as much vengeance/punishment as he could from this situation before he takes a final action concerning Floki. That Ragnar uses, in essence, the death of little Angrbo∂a to further inflict anguish upon Floki was cruel—especially as he used Helga to do so. (Which does make all kinds of proper sense, but it was also harsh.)

Lissa: In Mercia, Aethelwulf is transporting Queen Kwenthrith and her baby, Magnus. She begs him to stop and light a fire, because little Magnus is freezing. He gives her a chunk of raw meat. She says the boy can’t eat it, and he tells her that she must eat it and survive. Which is a very interesting development, since his father told him that Magnus was the one whose survival was important in this scenario. Choking back her disgust, Kwenthrith gnaws on the meat-cicle.

kwenthelwulf winterSandi: We see here a flare of of what Amy Bailey—the wonderful actress who plays Kwenthrith—said last week: Call them “Kwenthelwulf”. Magnus must survive, said Ecbert, but his son is developing a spine of his own. His relationship with Judith is strained at present (oh, how they’ve grown up and cynical, you know?) but he is seeking this for himself, not his father. And, too, it is very practical to encourage the adult to care for herself first. It goes against the grain, for a mother, but even on airplanes today you have the “take care of your own breathing mask first, then the child’s next to you” directive.

Lissa: Rollo has his first language lesson, and it doesn’t go all that well. He tries repeating the phrases the monk says to him, but the accent is difficult for him. He ends up grabbing the monk and hurling him across the room, flipping the table in his frustration.

Sandi: You and I discussed briefly last night that the French accent can be a challenge! And Rollo has a proper tutor, maybe, but the phrases aren’t the best. I think I’d start by having him learn war terms. “This is a boat. This is the Seine. Here is how we protect the city.” And so on.

language sarcastic tweet

Lissa: Björn’s vision quest turns into a one-man frat party. He opens a keg of mead and gets “tin-roof rusted,” as the saying goes, howling like a wolf at the Northern Lights. He passes out in the snow, never a good idea, but after he wakes (and pukes) Björn finally sees the bear face to face. it’s a huge, fierce creature, roaring at the sight of him. Björn lights into it with a knife, finally finishing the creature off with an axe, but not before he takes a claw swipe to the shoulder. He roars in victory, and it’s heard all the way back in Kattegat by Ragnar, who looks up at the sound. Later, we see him cauterize the wound, and he roars again, though the people of Kattegat don’t hear that one. (And you’d think they would.) During his last scene, we see Björn taking a dip in the lake through a hole in the ice.

bjorn gets drunk s4e3Sandi: As silly as this might have been, it was amusing. And also, I think, very real. A young man, who has lost so much and seen his own vulnerabilities in very physical ways, might indeed be out to prove himself as Björn is, here. And he’d act in ways that he wouldn’t do with the parents around. How many college freshman spend a lot of their first year way from home drunk or hung-over? And I loved the howling. Really, it was a much needed bit of levity in this episode.

Lissa: A bit later, Ragnar is cleaning fish while telling a story of Thor meeting with a strange ferryman. His sons are enthralled by the tale. The stranger turns out to be a man named Harbard. “Did you ever meet him?” Ubbe asks. No, Ragnar says, but perhaps Aslaug has. Aslaug glares at him. Her face is still bruised from Ragnar’s slaps in the last episode. She takes the boys inside for dinner.

Sandi: Ragnar can spin a fine yarn, to be sure. Here, he does so for double-purpose: instructing and entertaining his sons AND taking aim at his wife. That bruise out in the light of day was ugly. Another good move by the Vikings make-up team.

Lissa: Judith is continuing her painting lessons with Prudentius. He tells her the story of Ragnar’s invasion of Paris, but with a pious Christian twist. He says the Vikings were all stricken with disease because of their blasphemy. She asks if there was a monk named Athelstan among them. Prudentius says if there was, he hopes Athelstan would be crucified for it. Judith later relays the story to Ecbert, who is amused by it, though they both regret not getting any news of Athelstan. Judith appears in his room that night and says she’ll be his mistress again, but he has to swear to respect her and treat her as an equal. Ecbert swears it, on the life of Athelstan.

Sandi: May I say here that I am hoping that the plot will soon settle down to two or three places rather than all that are now in use? Kattegat, Mercia, Wessex, Hedeby, Paris, Hunting Lodge in Bear Country… We spend, sometimes, very little time in each locale and it’s distracting. Okay. Anyway. I had to say that.

judith and father sommelier

Back to Judith and her men. Judith seems, by her facial expressions, her invasion into Father Sommelier Prudentius’s personal space, and her careful movements near him, to be planning a seduction. Consciously or subconsciously. I can’t help but think that this is, of course, due to the good father’s resemblance to the lamented Athelstan. Then, she goes on to try to negotiate an “equal” adulterous relationship with King Ecbert, who pretends not to hold it in any hugely important regard. I wonder what Judith is planning—for surely she cannot be naïve enough to think that he’s taking her entirely seriously with her talk of freedom and equality. There are always strings with Ecbert. Always.

Lissa: That night, he wakes, startled out of sleep by some unknown force. He goes into the library. In Kattegat, Ragnar wakes too, and walks out into his silent hall with a torch, looking around for whatever it was that roused him.

Sandi: I still want to know. I mean, we saw how it played out, but this sequence might be showing that somehow, these men are still connected. Through their mutual regard for Athelstan? It was a powerful sequence of scenes, I think.

athelstan s4e3 to ragnarLissa: Ragnar sits down on his throne and someone enters, carrying a bowl of warm water. The stranger pulls back his cowl, and it’s our Athelstan. He tenderly washes Ragnar’s feet. At the same moment, Ecbert feels a gust of wind which scatters the pages of the documents Judith was illuminating. Athelstan enters, but he does not approach Ecbert. He glides by as Ecbert calls for him to come back. Ragnar is enraptured by the sight of his beloved friend. “Mercy,” Athelstan implores. “Mercy.”

Sandi: I was so pleased to see Athelstan. We’ve missed George Blagden on Vikings and, even if it’s a visionary experience, I was happy that he was there. In these paired experiences, it was interesting to me to see how the different visitations were treated. Athelstan washed the “pagan’s feet” yet he scattered the “Christian’s manuscript” with his presence. The former is tender and caring, the latter disruptive. And he speaks to Ragnar but doesn’t approach Ecbert. This is, I’m sure, meant to be a wordless commentary on their behaviors since his death. The plea for Mercy, I cannot help but think was heeded. At least to a degree.

mercy s4e3 athelstan to ragnar

Lissa: As Ragnar reaches out to him, Athelstan vanishes, just as Ecbert’s apparition vanishes.

Sandi: It was very well done of the writers. 

Lissa: In the morning, Ragnar goes to Floki’s cave. He tells Helga she has suffered enough, and cuts Floki’s bonds, tossing the hatchet aside as he walks out of the cave.

Sandi: And the plea for mercy is heard. He tosses the hatchet but, as was asked on twitter last night: Did he bury it? Did he, then, leave all thoughts of future retribution behind him in the cave when he left it?

Lissa: Ecbert goes to find Judith. He tells her of his vision and says he’s convinced Athelstan is dead. Judith bursts into tears and says she loved him.

Sandi: Is it odd to anyone else that she accepts this immediately? Utterly? She loved him; I believe this. But she never even questioned Ecbert’s declaration here. No moment of, “No! It can’t be! How can you be sure?” None of that.

ecbert dead athelstanLissa: Ecbert says he loved Athelstan, too, and embraces her as she sobs. They’re soon called outside.  Aethelwulf has returned with Queen Kwenthrith and her son. Ecbert tells her she’s safe now and takes her inside for food and a bath. Aethulwulf asks Judith why she’s crying. She says it’s because she’s happy her husband has returned home safe. Aethelwulf, the poor fool, seems to be touched by that.

Sandi: I think it’s because he knows he’s got Kwenthrith on the brain and he is not innocent of adulterous thoughts, even if he had yet to go to Kwenthrith’s bed, he was thinking about it at this moment. So he doesn’t have the high road, anymore, and perhaps he has a bit of fellow-feeling for his wife. Mercy, eh?

Lissa: That night, Kwenthrith lies sleepless. Her face says she doesn’t really trust Ecbert’s assurances of safety. Her chamber door opens and Aethelwulf comes inside. Kwenthrith pulls back the covers and invites him into her bed.

Sandi: And . . . Kwenthelwulf is full on happening. Yep. I wonder when—or if?—this will be discovered and what the responses from involved and affected parties will be?

So much to wait for next week! I hope you’ll join us @LissaBryan and @sandyquill!

Heill þú farir, heill þú aftr komir, heill þú á sinnum sér!
Hale go forth, hale return, hale on your ways!  – Vafþrúðnismál


 

If you’re looking for a wider divergence of opinions on Vikings, may I recommend Project Fandom and the No Ship Network? The first is a blog and the second a podcast that does recaps of each episode and then does the Althing podcast, which is all about the feedback.

Post-Apocalyptic Omnibus with Lissa Bryan

This is SO cool. Friend and fellow VIKINGS enthusiast, Lissa Bryan, is releasing her End of the World as We Know It series in one volume! I’ve read and reviewed before, so take a peek at what I had to say about the first book: The End of All Things. Then you’ll know you need to read it, too.

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The End of All Things Series by Lissa Bryan

Giveaway

For your chance to win one of….

$10 Amazon Giftcard

An e-Copy of The End of All Things Series

A Paperback Copy of The End of All Things Series

An e-Copy of Ghostwriter

A Paperback Copy of Ghostwriter

CLICK HERE

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The End of All Things by Lissa Bryan

(Book 1)

Category: Dystopian

Publication Date: January 24, 2013

Available From: TWCS * B&N * iTunes * Amazon * Kobo

Summary

TheEnd_Low-Res_CoverAfter a terrible virus ravages the planet, Carly Daniels, one of the few survivors, hides in her apartment in Juneau trying to survive the best she can with only occasional forays to gather food. With her is Sam, a wolf puppy she found starving on the streets. He becomes her companion and a reason to continue when giving up sometimes seems like the more attractive option. Still dazed with shock and grief, she hopes for the world to go back to normal soon.

She is discovered by Justin, an ex-soldier who is intent on making his way to Florida before the winter sets in. Justin coaxes her out of her hiding place and convinces her to join him on his journey, because a warmer climate will be their best chance  against the extremes of Mother Nature.

Together, they begin a perilous journey through a nation laid to waste by the disaster. Challenges abound along the way. The weather, injury, and shortage of supplies all help to slow them down. In time, they discover that they aren’t the only survivors. Some are friendly but some have had their minds destroyed by the high fever. Then there are those who simply take what they want, leaving Carly and Justin with no choice but to defend what is theirs.

But their journey is not without joy and love. Together, they face every struggle, including an unplanned pregnancy. Despite the perils of bringing a child into a world of chaos, their baby is a new beginning for themselves and a symbol of hope for the other survivors they find along the way.

This is the story of their journey to find a place to begin a new life, and a home in each other.

Goodreads

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Tales from the End by Lissa Bryan

(4 Short Stories / Companion Pieces)

Category: Dystopian

Publication Date: February 4, 2014

Available From: TWCS * B&N * iTunes * Amazon * Kobo

Summary

Tales-From-The-End-Low-Res-CoverFrom the author of The End of All Things comes a collection of short stories about the Infection that swept around the globe, decimating the population, and leaving behind a small number of survivors, unprepared to deal with the brutal new world which had replaced the one they’d known.

The Horsemen

L.A.’s mayor has declared quarantine to try to halt the spread of the Infection. Pearl sets off across the city to buy supplies, but already the world is changing. Something strange is in the air. The Horsemen are coming …

Veronica

When Veronica’s mother doesn’t come home from work and no one answers the phone when she calls for help, a nine-year-old girl is thrown into the chaos of a world coming to an end. Veronica decides it’s up to her to find her family. “Veronica” is the story of a little girl’s courage in the face of the end of all things.

“I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”

They called her Shadowfax– the mare Carly and Justin found on their travels. But before she was found by Carly, the retired dressage horse was known as Cloud. An unusual tale of the end, told through the eyes of a confused and lonely horse, left in her pasture.

Birthday

A previously-published bonus story. Carly knows Justin has never celebrated his birthday, and after society crumbled, no one knows what date it is, anyway. But she wants to do something special for him. Celebrating the little things helps them keep hope alive, and as a blizzard rages outside, a small gesture of love warms their home.

Goodreads

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The Land of the Shadow by Lissa Bryan

(Book 2)

Category: Dystopian

Publication Date: August 21, 2014

Available From: TWCS * B&N * iTunes * Amazon * Kobo

Summary

The_Land_of_the_Shadow_Low-Res_CoverAfter surviving the Infection and a perilous journey through the wasteland that was once the United States, Carly and Justin have found a safe home in the isolated town of Colby.

Even so, balancing the duties of survival and a growing family isn’t easy. As they emerge as leaders, they face difficult questions about justice in a lawless land, basic human rights, and freedom in a world where strength defines worth. More than ever, they have to rely on one another for strength and support during the darkest of times.

The Crisis is far from over. Their fences won’t keep the world out forever, and a new threat is emerging—a gang of predators who see the town as easy pickings. When danger looms over Colby, Carly must decide how far she’ll go to protect those she loves.

It’s a journey down the long and broken road through The Land of the Shadow.

Goodreads

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Shadows Have Gone by Lissa Bryan

(Book 3)

Category: Dystopian

Publication Date: March 26, 2015

Available From: TWCS * B&N * iTunes * Amazon * Kobo

Summary

Shadows-Have-Gone-Low-Res-CoverCarly Daniels knows what it is to suffer loss. She knows what it is to sacrifice. In the two years since a pandemic virus—known only as the Infection—decimated humanity, she’s made choices she never could have imagined. She’s condoned violence in the name of peace and done the unthinkable in the name of mercy. But with Justin at her side, she’s also learned there’s nothing she can’t face and nothing she wouldn’t do to protect those she loves.

But now another threat has arrived in the form of a uniformed man driving an army truck, claiming to represent the remnant of the United States military. Someone has set their sights on their community . . . and on Justin. The struggle to defend their little homeland is far from over, and the visitors may have brought more danger with them than just their weapons.

The shadows are closing in. Carly has to find out whether she has the strength to stand on her own when all of her support has fallen away. What remains when the shadows have gone?

Goodreads

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Ghostwriter-3-years

Ghostwriter by Lissa Bryan

Category: Supernatural

Publication Date: October 11, 2012

Available From: TWCS * B&N * iTunes * Amazon * Kobo

Summary

Ghost_Writer_Low-Res_CoverUnemployed, with her savings dwindling, Sara Howell thinks things are looking up when she lands a ghostwriting job and rents the affordable island home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.

Strange things happen, making Sara wonder if Seth ever left. When she finds an old trunk of Seth’s letters, she delves into a world she never imagined, filled with love and a family curse it seems only she can break.

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Author Bio

lbryanLissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot…. though only in her head.

Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.

Goodreads * TWCS * Twitter * Facebook * Website

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Teaser Tuesday with R.E. Hargrave

A collection of recipes from 16 authors around the world!
The Crazy Lady Authors aren’t just cooking up plots in their books, they’re also cooking up tasty vittles! Hey, we’re ‘crazy’ about you, so we’re ‘dishing’ our best recipes out in this awesome cookbook. It’s the CLA’s way of helping you serve up outstanding dinners in between reading any one of our published works. We know how easy it is to get lost in the pages. Before you know it, the hours have flown by and it’s time for dinner. The hubby is hollering, the kids are complaining, and even the dog wants treats. We figure it’s all our fault so why not help you maintain peace and harmony in your home by providing this amazing book of easy recipes to keep your clan well-fed? We do, however, stop short of coming to your house to cook it all up for you. We’re writing our next novels, after all! Don’t be greedy. Bon appetit!
or FREE with Kindle Unlimited
Also available in paperback.
Want to see some of the tasty creations? 
Check out our Pinterest board!
 
Keep Up with The Crazy Lady Authors:

Teaser Tuesday – Lisa Bilbrey

Sophie Crenshaw has saved the world by preventing the
Angel’s Heart from falling into the hands of Whitley Monroe. Now, she and her
fiancé Henry Chang have returned to Austin, Texas, and back to the real world.
Or have they?Having been declared the savior of all mankind, Sophie finds that magic is all
around her. As she struggles to find her way, she’s bombarded by nightly dreams
that have her on edge. Will she be able to keep her sanity while trying to
decipher the meaning behind her visions? Or will an unknown enemy get to her
first?

Excerpt:

 “It’s
always been around me, hasn’t it? I just hadn’t noticed it before the
binds broke.” 
“Probably,” Deva admitted. The silence that filled the air around them
was deafening. Only the sounds of the other patrons enjoying their meals
rattled around them. “Sophie . . .” 
“Don’t worry about me,” she replied, a tremor lacing her words. 
Suddenly, a loud roar of thunder tore through the sky, causing the
windows to shake. The entire pub became silent, and Sophie looked over
at Iona, once again finding her staring.
“I really need to learn to
control that.” 
“Eh, it makes things funner, or is it more fun?” Tanner laughed, though
Sophie could hear the void in his laughter. 
 “Yeah, keeps everyone on their toes,” Jonah added, giving her a weak
smile. 
Sophie brought her hand up to grip the stone hanging around her neck. “I
suppose it does.”

 About the Author

Obsessive, compulsive, slightly
crazed, but enough about her personality. First and foremost, Lisa Bilbrey is a
mom to three and a wife to one. She loves to write, and spends the majority of

everyday writing. It’s who she is, and what she’s meant to be doing. Words are
her life, the air she breathes, and the nutrients of her soul. Finding a love
in the written word, Lisa Bilbrey started writing as a way to express herself
and let her voice be heard. From the first word she wrote, she’d found her
heart and soul.

Always willing to learn, she’s
spends much of her time trying to improve as a storyteller.
Links—





Release Day – Melissa Kendall

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PRESENTS. . .

Matronly Duties

by Melissa Kendall

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Release Date: May 21 , 2015

Genre:  FICTION / Romance / General / Science Fiction

ISBN e-book:    978-1-61213-369-0

Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH

~~SUMMARY~~

Hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into Earth and sent it into a new ice age, what remains of the human race lives on in underground sanctuaries. Now, as the bicentennial anniversary of the impact approaches, a new leader prepares to take her place at the head of the government. At least, that’s what she thinks.

Bethanie Greene’s life has been planned out for her since the age of thirteen. Beautiful and intelligent, she’s spent the Matronly-Duties-3D-Paperback-eReaderlast twelve years training to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. But when Bethanie is kidnapped by rogue extremists just six weeks shy of taking office, her world is turned upside down by the handsome stranger who rescues her.

Howard James’ life has been the polar opposite of Bethanie’s. Struggling to survive in a world where those in power wished he didn’t exist, he harbors a deep-seated resentment of the government and all its representatives. Together with his unconventional family, he shows Bethanie a life she never knew was possible, while at the same time, opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead.

But can she trust a stranger? And can a few days change everything she believes and desires? Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.

ADD TO GOODREADS BOOK SHELF

~~EXCERPT~~

My body shakes at the thought of what could have happened to me yet again. I’ve heard stories about the slums, and I have to take a few deep breaths to calm myself.

“I was silly running away, I get it. I just couldn’t stay in your home any longer.”

Howard sighs. “Just because my parents raised us with traditionalist values doesn’t mean we are anything like the Trads. You accused us of being a drain on society, but you don’t even know us.”

“You’re right, I don’t. But you don’t know me either. If you did, you would understand why it’s hard for me to understand your way of life. It goes against every law, moral, and convention I’ve been taught. So I can’t be sorry for what I said, even if I’m sorry I ran out of the house.”

Howard takes a deep breath, then exhales long and slow. The expression on his face looks a bit like pity but with a dash of guilt mixed in. “Look, maybe I’ve judged you unfairly based on preconceived notions, but—”

A loud bang echoes outside. Howard glances at me with a panicked look on his face, and then pulls me off the crate onto the floor behind. I sit up, and turn to yell at him, but male voices outside keep my mouth closed. I instead huddle closer to Howard as he puts his hand around my shoulders. He pulls me in until I’m tucked against him.

“Did you see where she went?” a man’s voice asks.

“Nah, she just vanished.” The voice of this one sounds young.

“Damn, the boss isn’t going to be pleased about this.”

The crunch of shoes against pavement indicates they are on the move again. The sounds trail off until they’re no longer audible. I sigh in relief, all the tension fleeing my body.

“Are you okay?’ Howard asks, rubbing my shoulder.Matronly-Duties-3D-Paperback

I glance up, only then noticing how little space is between us. His blue eyes have flecks of grey in them, and there’s a smattering of freckles covering his nose and cheeks. His warm breath tickles my cheek almost like a caress, and his jaw has the barest hint of a five o’clock shadow. He really is captivating.

“I’m fine,” I eventually say, the words a mere whisper.

The butterflies in my stomach return with a vengeance. Howard licks his lips as they turn up ever so slightly in a smile.

“Good.”

I can’t stop the sigh that slips past my own lips. Howard leans forward a little, then moves closer still until his mouth is pressed against mine. I don’t dare move. A zing of something, I’m not sure whether it’s pleasure or fear, shoots through me. His lips are soft and wet, and the sensation is unlike anything I’ve felt before. I can’t even decide if I want him to continue or stop. When he pulls away though, a feeling of disappointment bubbles up inside me.

My first kiss.

Goosebumps cover me from head to toe, and unbidden, my fingers move to my lips. Glancing at Howard, he stares at me for a minute, then moves to sit further away.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”

I shrug. “It’s okay.”

Howard frowns and then looks across the room.

Part of Matron training is learning not to form close relationships. It doesn’t mean it never happens. I’ve heard the odd story here and there from the other women, and I realise that’s probably what Gail was trying to tell me at breakfast the other day. But in all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I had real physical contact with anyone, above all with a man.

We sit in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. Tension rolls off Howard in waves.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Come on,” Howard whispers. “We need to get to the house before those guys come back.”

~~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~~

Melissa Kendall

Melissa Kendall is an almost forty-year-old mother of two from Perth, Western Australia, the second-most isolated capital city in the world. Predominantly a stay-at-home mum, she works a few hours a week as a software support consultant. She has always loved to read and write, and spent most of her teens writing poetry and short stories. Over the years, daily life got in the way and she lost the passion for it, but after the birth of her first child, Melissa discovered e-books and her interest in writing rekindled. She is now the author of two published short stories. Matronly Duties is her first full-length novel.

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~~CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR~~

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