Guest Post: The Sheriff’s Catch by James Vella Bardon.

*Today’s post is by author James Vella Bardon. Thank you James for writing such a wonderful guest post for my blog. Readers, it would be fabulous if you could check the author out, watch his book trailer and ultimately – READ THE BOOK.  If you have read this book, let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you and I am sure James would also love to see your comments. *

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The Making Of The Sheriff’s Catch / Introducing James Vella-Bardon

I don’t think you can beat well-researched novels which are also fast-paced. It doesn’t matter if they’re in eBook format on your smart phone, leaving you to miss your train stop on your way home from work. Or if they’re paperbacks that you hide under your pillow with a small torch, so that you can read late past midnight long after the missus and kids are asleep.
There’s heaps of other people I know who love these breaknjeck page-turners which leave you too breathless to realise just how quickly you’ve read the story. Yet for some reason these sorts of books are so hard to find. I remember reading The Fellowship Of The Ring when I was ten and sick in bed. It was a magical week that I’ll never forget, in which my eyes were absolutely glued to the page while I read the chapter about the fellowship fleeing orcs and a flaming balrog in the Mines of Moria. Reading that chapter left me wondering: what if I could one day create the same levels of anticipation and exhilaration for other readers, all through written words on a page?
There have been other similar works which have also stirred great emotions inside me while also teaching me a lot about different periods in real human history. Henri Charriere’s Papillon was quite simply ‘crack on a page’ from cover to cover, not to mention the opening chapter of ‘Q’ by the band of Bologna-based writers who call themselves Luther Blissett (and subsequently Wu Ming). The first-person account of Gert from the well fleeing Catholic forces with the unconscious Anabaptist Thomas Muntzer was like something out of Mel Gibson’s Apocalytpo. Precious few novels have evoked the same exhilaration and burning curiousity, and in my case these have included Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Sharpe’s Tiger’, Perez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste series and more recently Tim Willocks’ ‘The Twelve Children Of Paris’.

What if I could write a whole novel with the same first-hand intensity? Something which you couldn’t put down, like ‘The Da Vinci Code’? But without the dryness of an airport read and without all the sagging, flouncy, hellishly boring bits usually contained in a Booker Prize-winning novel? And even better still: what if I could produce a series of books like that, with a story arc akin to those created by fantasy writers like Tolkien, David Eddings and Stephen Donaldson?

At the age of 25 I finished university and with my tertiary studies off my back, I instantly knew what I had to do. I was working in Brussels when I decided to try my hand at writing a fantasy epic, but I knew that the Dark Lord vs the forces of good theme had been done to death and was wearing a bit thin. Rehashing former fantasy series just wasn’t a stimulating enough venture for me. It was during that period of deliberation that I received a book called ‘Romegas’ by Carmel Testa as a birthday gift from my uncle Klaus in Malta. I was instantly drawn towards the stark differences in customs and traditions between the people of the 16th Century, and immediately decided that this world would be the canvas for my novel. But what sort of story should I write?

The key spark of inspiration occurred a couple of years later, shortly after I had emigrated to Sydney, Australia. I walked into a second hand bookstore and picked up a small historical nonfiction book by the Irish journalist T. P. Kilfeather, called ‘Ireland: Graveyard Of The Spanish Armada’. Spanish Armada in Ireland? What was this about? Yet I hardly started to read the first page, that I did not put the book down until I’d read it all. I bought it for three bucks and staggered out of the shop, feeling like I’d just been on the wildest rollercoaster ride I’d ever been on. Moria? Orcs? Papillon? The stories of the Spanish Armada castaways in Ireland ate all that up for breakfast!

I locked myself away in my studio flat, typing out my first twelve-chapter draft in less than a week, subsequently realising that the first draft required further rewriting and editing. I stuck to this project like a hound on the scent, editing and rewriting it again and again for years on end until I developed my voice. Extensive research was also carried out on this period of history, which was nearly as addictive as the writing itself!

And how couldn’t it be? The Spanish Armada shipwrecks in Ireland were a juncture at which three starkly different cultures met: counter-reformist Spaniards, reformist English and the late medieval Irish. There were just too many dramatic episodes to cover, from the preparation and voyage of the Spanish Armada itself, to the dramatic slaughter of Spanish castaways along the Irish beaches, with desperate ‘man on the run’ stories of those Spaniards who managed to elude the great bloodbath along the beaches.

As if this story was not amazing enough, nothing prepared me for the wonder and complexity of 16th Century Gaelic culture. We all too often forget that Ireland was the last European country to be influenced by Rome, so that a sophisticated Gaelic culture of law and bardic tradition had blossomed there, with women having the exact same rights of men and there being no concept of a bonus paterfamilias. I was also taken aback by the sheer beauty of the countryside when I visited Sligo Town and surrounds in Western Ireland to undertake further research on the novel back in October 2012. This was just too much mind-blowing material to be left untouched by fiction, and before I knew it I had penned a staggeringly long novel in five parts. I subsequently divided this into a five-part series called The Sassana Stone Pentalogy.

The first instalment is called ‘The Sheriff’s Catch’ and was published by leading British crowdfunding publisher Unbound on 15 March 2018. The required crowdfunding figure of 4000 pounds was raised in less than six days, even though the campaign was expected to last three months! A number of other highs were to follow. My publisher Unbound got me to work on the manuscript with structural editor and talented novelist CM Taylor, as well as experienced copy-editor Andrew Chapman. There followed work with award-winning cover designer Mark Ecob, before the novel was serialised on international online book club The Pigeonhole. To my disbelief, this book club was previously used by Ken Follett to promote his sequel to ‘The Pillars Of The Earth’, called ‘A Column Of Fire.’

I was walking on air as the comments from 250 readers about my debut novel came through on The Pigeonhole, with a few of them kindly also posting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. My nine years of backbreaking rewriting and research had already paid off, with a large number of readers greatly warming to my anti-hero protagonist and deadly marksman Abel de Santiago, also known as ‘The Lynx of Haarlem’, not to mention the gutsy tragic heroines Elsien Van Der Molen and Muireann Mac An Bhaird. And as if that wasn’t enough, I received a call from Tim Willocks’ (and Ken Follett’s former) literary agent Mr Albert Zuckerman last month which was the absolute cherry on the cake! Mr Zuckerman kindly invited me to his hotel to discuss my novel for close to an hour, which was quite simply unbelievable. Yet more unbelievable news was to follow earlier this month, when a novel trailer I created was nominated in the ‘best trailer for a novel or book’ category at the Golden Trailer Awards to be held in Los Angeles on 31 May 2018!

Watch the trailer below:

The product of a long lonely nine-year slog has so far met with a really good reception, and I cannot wait for what’s next around the corner. And for those readers who have loved ‘The Sheriff’s Catch’ (and you only need to check my Goodreads and Amazon pages to discover what the feedback has been to date), the good news for my growing following of readers is that the draft manuscripts for four other sequels have already been penned, which altogether will make up ‘The Sassana Stone Pentalogy’. I can’t wait to get stuck into the editing of the next instalment: ‘A REBEL NORTH’.

 So what are you waiting for?

Jump on Goodreads and have a look at the reader reviews, then hop on Amazon and read the ‘Look Inside’ free excerpt of The Sheriff’s Catch, and find out for yourself just how hard it is to put down! And if you love it, well, then strap on your seatbelt and buy the whole thing, as you embark upon one of the literary thrills of your life!

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James Vella-Bardon

James was born and raised in Malta, an island nation steeped in the millennia of history. As a boy he often caught a rickety old bus to the capital of Valletta, where he would hover around the English bookshops to check out the latest titles in fiction.

Growing up he was an avid reader and a relentless day-dreamer, with his standout subject at school being English composition. He also won a couple of national essay competitions. Although he spent seven years studying and obtaining a doctor of laws degree, this did not cure him of his urge to write stories. So after emigrating to Sydney in 2007 he resolved to have a proper stab at writing his first novel.

The result of this decision is an epic, sprawling five-part historical fiction series called The Sassana Stone Pentalogy. It is the product of nine years of intense rewriting and research, and tells the story of a Spanish Armada survivor who is shipwrecked in Ireland.

The first instalment in the series is a rip-roaring, myth-busting page-turner called The Sheriff’s Catch. Its anti-hero protagonist Abel de Santiago is an Armada survivor who finds himself on the run across Connacht, whilst being pursued by English troopers who want him tortured and killed.

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A Might Dawn by Theodore Brun blog tour.

My book review for #AMightyDawn by Theodore Brun. 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

A gripping and brilliantly realised debut epic adventure set in eighth-century Denmark. This is the beginning of an ambitious new series in the vein of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.

Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.

Whispers of sinister forces in the North pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?

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 My Review of A Mighty Dawn

*I was luckily sent this book in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much to Kate asking me to participate.* 

I do not normally read this genre, or when I do it centres around Tudor England but I thoroughly enjoyed it and am now eager for more. 

I found this book to be riveting, captivating and not predicable in the slightest, which I loved. This is the first book that I have read about Eighth-Century Scandinavia which was both informative and educational.  I also have not read a lot about the Vikings, so I eagerly delved into the book with no preconceived ideas. 

This is the first book in what I hope will be a brilliant historical fiction series which I will definitely pick up in the future. *EX-CIT-ING…GIVE ME MORE NOW!* 

Within A Mighty Dawn, Brun effortlessly creates a complex world full of intriguing, well put together and compelling characters that will suck you in. While reading this novel, I was fully immersed within the world and at the mercy of Brun cleverly crafted narrative. 

Another part of A Might Dawn that I thoroughly enjoyed was the construction of the narrative. The novel is split in three parts, with each section showing a different side to Hakan aka Erlan (the protagonist). At the beginning of the novel, Hakan is the chosen son, then he goes on a journey of self discovery and finally we (the reader) see him under the ruling of a new king.

After tragedy strikes Hakan’s life, he abandons his old identity and instead takes on the new identity of Erlan. This journey of discovery is one that can be felt by all readers and the tragedy element makes it a page turning extravaganza. 

I do not want to give away any of the book but if you are a reader of historical fiction or fantasy, go check out this wonderful book. This book deserves all its recognition and much much more.

Release date for paperback: 4th January 2018 
Book extent:  608 pages
Publisher: Corvus Books (an imprint of Atlantic Books) 

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Author Bio:

Theo is an established author and public speaker. At Cambridge, he studied Dark Age archaeology (amongst other things), graduating with a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MPhil in History. After university he trained as a solicitor, qualifying into the area of arbitration law where he worked for several years, including for two Magic Circle firms. His career took him first to London, then to Moscow, Paris and finally Hong Kong.

However, in 2010, disenchanted with the law and with the germ of an idea for a series of novels already in his head, he quit his job in Hong Kong, jumped on a bicycle and pedalled 10,685 miles across Asia and Europe to his home in Norfolk. At this point he sat down in a spider-infested cottage to write the first volume in his epic historical fiction series, the Wanderer Chronicles. Four years later, A Mighty Dawn was published by Corvus Atlantic. Its sequel, A Sacred Storm, is due for release in July 2018.​

Theo is a third generation Viking immigrant, his Danish grandfather having settled in England in 1932. One could say Viking stories are in his blood. They did also form a small part of his degree, but the truth is they only came alive for him through the discovery of Wagner’s Ring Cycle when he was studying for his law exams. Through this unlikely portal, Theo discovered the hoard of stories from the old Scandinavian and Germanic worlds which underlie many of the works of authors like Tolkein, CS Lewis, George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, Giles Kristian and Bernard Cornwell to name a few. It was this material that provided the inspiration for the first two novels in his Wanderer Chronicles series.

Besides writing, Theo is also an acclaimed speaker and has presented to a wide variety of audiences about his epic bike journey and about creative writing, as well as inspiring young people to dream big and pursue their passions.

Theo is married to Natasha. They live in London together with Natasha’s daughter, Ella, their baby girl, Talitha, and an unruly dog named Wilmo. 

For more information visit the below website:

Website – www.theodorebrun.com/home

Facebook – www.facebook.com/theodorebrunauthor/

Twitter –twitter.com/theodorebrun

 

 

 

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge (PART ONE)

I absolutely adore Gilmore Girls and especially Rory Gilmore. She is actually my spirit animal. 

This challenge is 339 books longs, so I have decided to split it into three posts.

  • RED = Books I have read. 
  • BLUE = Books I own and plan on reading. 
  • GREEN =Books I will think about adding to my TBR list. 

 

1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
5. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
6. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
8. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
9. The Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
10. The Art of Fiction by Henry James
11. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
12. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
13. Atonement by Ian McEwan
14. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
15. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
16. Babe by Dick King-Smith
17. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
18. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
19. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
20. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
21. Beloved by Toni Morrison
22. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
23. The Bhagava Gita
24. The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
25. Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
26. A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy

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27. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
28. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
29. Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
30. Candide by Voltaire
31. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
32. Carrie by Stephen King
33. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
34. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
35. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
36. The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
37. Christine by Stephen King
38. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
39. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
40. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
41. The Collected Stories by Eudora Welty
42. A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
43. Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
44. The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
45. Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
46. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
47. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
48. Cousin Bette by Honore de Balzac
49. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
50. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
51. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
52. Cujo by Stephen King
53. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

tumblr_odekphtcdp1rmidh1o2_r1_500 54. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
55. David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
56. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
57. The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown
58. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
59. Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
60. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
61. Deenie by Judy Blume
62. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
63. The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
64. The Divine Comedy by Dante
65. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
66. Don Quixote by Cervantes
67. Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
68. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
69. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
70. Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
71. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
72. Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
73. Eloise by Kay Thompson
74. Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
75. Emma by Jane Austen
76. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
77. Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
78. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
79. Ethics by Spinoza
80. Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves

d459373009a871b5a9dcf75a3fd3c77c81. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
82. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
83. Extravagance by Gary Krist
84. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
85. Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
86. The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
87. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
88. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
89. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
90. Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
91. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
92. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
93. Fletch by Gregory McDonald
94. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
95. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
96. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
97. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
98. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
99. Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
100. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
101. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
102. George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
103. Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
104. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
105. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
106. The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo

a96b0a78627399ddc26a1b3a5f03301f.gif107. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
108. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
109. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
110. The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
111. The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
112. The Graduate by Charles Webb
113. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
114. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
115. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
116. The Group by Mary McCarthy
117. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
118. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
119. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
120. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
121. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
122. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
123. Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
124. Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
125. Henry V by William Shakespeare
126. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
127. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
128. Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
129. The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
130. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
131. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
132. How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer

cd0dbca871331cf37c76a1ad9fb604f4.gif I will admit, I am an English Literature student and I did not know a fair few of these books. considering the ones in red are the ones that I have read…I think I am doing alright so far.

Super scared and seeking support…

I want to try something new and put myself out there because I really want my passion for books, life and happiness to shine through and although I hope my blog already emphasizes these qualities. I want to push myself further and perhaps try and video blog on YouTube.

I am just super worried about being overly awkward and shy, if I posted a video about my August ‘to be read books’ or ‘my top five favourite books’ (or something along those lines)  would you lovely follows watch it and give me criticism?

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My fear level at the moment is Ron + spiders.

I would love for you to get to know me more and I believe this will help my confidence and allow me to prove (to myself) that I can do anything I desire with determination.

Want to help me achieve getting over my fear? 

Support me and lets go on this adventure together…

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