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Glad I ebook cover 2500x1652Hot off the presses, I’m announcing a giveaway of my newest book, Sword of the Gladiatrix. The rules are simple: leave a comment below saying you’d like to be entered. No need to put your email address in the comment, it will be attached to your post in admin. If you’d like more than one chance, Tweet, share on Facebook, and/or post on your own blog and let me know in the comments. One additional entry for each share. The giveaway is open through midnight June 12, world wide. If the winner is in the US, you have a choice of print or ebook. If the  winner is outside the US, you have the choice of ebook format. I’ll use Raffle King to randomly pick the winner.

I’m excited about this one. I put out a couple of collections of short stories and a non-fiction book, but this is my first full-length novel since Selene of Alexandria. Good luck everyone! Details on the book below:

Sword of the Gladiatrix

Two women. Two swords. One victor.

An action-packed tale that exposes the brutal underside of Imperial Rome, Sword of the Gladiatrix brings to life unforgettable characters and exotic settings. From the far edges of the Empire, two women come to battle on the hot sands of the arena in Nero’s Rome: Afra, scout and beast master to the Queen of Kush; and Cinnia, warrior-bard and companion to Queen Boudica of the British Iceni. Enslaved, forced to fight for their lives and the Romans’ pleasure; they seek to replace lost friendship, love, and family in each other’s arms. But the Roman arena offers only two futures: the Gate of Life for the victors or the Gate of Death for the losers.

Author:  Faith L. Justice
ISBN:  978-0692386491
Length:  260 pp
Price:  $11.99 (Print-discounts vary) $3.99 (ebook)
Available at:

Amazon.com Worldwide (US, UK, Canada)
BarnesandNoble.com
CreateSpace (print only)
iBooks (ebook only)
Kobo (ebook only)
Smashwords (ebooks–all formats)

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I get pitched a lot of books. I usually accept about one a month. I like most of them and write a paragraph or two on GoodReads.com, LibraryThing.com or Amazon.com. A very few get the full blog treatment. Hand of Fire by Judith Starkston is one of those I want to enthusiastically share with my fellow readers. Her novel has all the elements I look for in historical fiction: compelling characters, engaging plot, and fascinating setting.

About the book:

Hand-of-Fire-Cover-Large-203x300The Trojan War threatens Troy’s allies and the Greek supply raids spread. A young healing priestess, designated as future queen, must defend her city against both divine anger and invading Greeks. She finds strength in visions of a handsome warrior god; will that be enough when the half-immortal Achilles attacks? Hand of Fire, a tale of resilience and hope, blends history and legend in the untold story of Achilles’s famous captive, Briseis.

I have a weakness for stories that shine a light on little known women or give silenced women a voice in the way Anita Diamant spoke for the biblical Dina (Joseph’s only sister) in her wildly popular The Red Tent. Starkston takes a similar approach through the story of Briseis. In the Iliad Briseis has only a handful of lines, yet she is a pivotal character in the narrative arc of the classic poem, sparking a rift between Achilles and Agamemnon that almost brings the Greek war against Troy to ruin. In the poem she expresses her love for Achilles in spite of the fact that he killed her brothers and husband, sacked her city, and reduced her status from princess to slave. A tall order to build a believable scenario where that could happen! Starkston does a beautiful job taking the slender clues about Briseis’ life and times and building believable characters. Briseis matures from an uncertain girl to a woman capable of determining her own destiny in this engaging story. (more…)

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Normally, I restrict this blog to historical notes and book reviews, but this is a special occasion. My book Selene of Alexandria is a featured read this Saturday, October 26, at The Fussy Librarian, a website that offers personalized ebook recommendations. You choose from thirty genres and indicate preferences about content and the computer works its magic. I’ve signed up for the service and get a personalized list of ebook recommendations every day. All the recommended books cost $5.99 or less and have rankings of 4 stars or better. Check it out at TheFussyLibrarian.com

Selene of Alexandria CoverFor those not familiar with my novel, here’s the back cover blurb:

“…readers will be captivated” – Historical Novel Society

“…an entertaining and enlightening novel….a fine read through and through.” – Midwest Book Reviews

“… does what historical fiction does best—weave historical fact, real-life historical figures, and attention to detail with page-turning, plot-driven fiction.” – The Copperfield Review

This story of ambition, love and political intrigue brings to life colorful characters and an exotic time and place. In A.D. 412 Alexandria, against the backdrop of a city torn by religious and political strife, Selene struggles to achieve her dream of becoming a physician–an unlikely goal for an upper class Christian girl. Hypatia, the famed Lady Philosopher of Alexandria and the Augustal Prefect Orestes offer their patronage and protection. But will it be enough to save Selene from murderous riots, the machinations of a charismatic Bishop and–most dangerous of all–her own impulsive nature?

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WWII PosterReaders of this blog know I like to highlight fiction and non-fiction that present capable women with strong personalities. I read a post in a forum recently that intrigued me. The person was looking for historical fiction recommendations, but “none of those anachronistic modern women dressed up in historical costumes crap.” I don’t think he was disparaging time travel fiction and, yes, I’ve read a few stories where the women seem to have more modern sensibilities than might be warranted. But not all strong females in historical fiction are anachronistic. I’ve read other blog posts by historical fiction writers also deploring recent criticism about strong women described by readers as “too modern” in spite of ample historical evidence that women did and thought as the writers wrote them. Where does the dissonance come from? Why would a reader think a woman couldn’t be a doctor in Late Antiquity, captain a whaling ship, or teach men to fly planes during WWII — all documented events?

I blame school history books. The protagonist in my novel, Selene of Alexandria is a young woman who wants to become a physician in fifth century Alexandria — not a “healer” or midwife — a trained and apprenticed physician. There is ample written and archaeological evidence of women physicians through the ages, including this period. But if you don’t look outside the traditional history texts, you wouldn’t know that. (more…)

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Blog Hop graphicAs a gift to my readers and the followers of this blog, I’ve joined Passages to the Past and 30+ other blogs in the 1st Annual Historical Holiday Blog Hop. Each blog in the hop has a great giveaway package: historical fiction, history books, gift cards and more. So give yourself a present this year and check out the list here. “Hop” from blog to blog to see who’s giving away what and sign up for some great goodies. There are also Grand Prizes (I’ve donated a paperback and an ebook copy of my own novel Selene of Alexandria.) For my blog giveaway we have three prizes, once-read review copies of:

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile Cover

And the winner is: sara!

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer made NPR’s list of the year’s best historical fiction of 2012 (read a guest post by Enid here.) A literary novel about the imagined meeting of Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert when they both traveled the fabled river–before they became famous.

  • Title: The Twelve Rooms of the Nile
  • Author: Enid Shomer
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 2012
  • ISBN: 978-1-4516-4298-4
  • Format: Hardcover, 449 pages
  • Price: $26.00

Seven Wonders cover

And the winner is: Meg!

The Seven Wonders by Stephen Saylor (read my review here.) Gordianus the Finder is back in this prequel to Steven Saylor’s popular series of mysteries set in the Roman Republic. Follow his adventures as Gordianus embarks on the First Century BCE equivalent of a “Grand Tour” of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

  • Title: The Seven Wonders: A Novel of the Ancient World
  • Author: Steven Saylor
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books, 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0-312-35984-3
  • Format: Hardcover, 321 pages
  • Price: $25.99

The Raven's Seal Cover

And the winner is: milliebotdesigns!

The Raven’s Seal by Andrei Baltakmens (read a guest post by Andrei here.) A historical mystery with a brooding gaol (jail for us in the US), intriguing characters and a twisty plot. If you like Dickens, you’ll like this one!

Giveaway Details (US addresses only)

Entry is easy: leave a comment on this post saying which book(s) you would like, by midnight Monday, December 17 (email not necessary in the comment, but please give it when asked, so I can get back to you if you win.) If you want a second entry, sign up to follow the blog or indicate you’re already a follower. For additional chances, repost this giveaway on your Facebook, blog, Twitter, website, etc. and post the link in your comment (maximum five chances.) Don’t worry if your post doesn’t appear immediately, because I moderate comments and don’t spend my life at my computer. I’ll randomly select the winners and announce it on Tuesday, December 18.  Also, there will be a mystery prize! Good luck, everyone, and happy holidays!

And the winner of the mystery prize is: Helen! She’ll receive a signed copy of my novel Selene of Alexandria

Thanks to everyone who entered the Blog Hop and congratulations to our winners.

Safe and happy holidays to all!

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The Twelve Rooms of the Nile CoverI just finished The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, a novel about the imagined meeting of Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert when they both traveled the fabled river–before they became famous. It’s a lovely literary effort with wonderful insights into two intriguing characters. I’m pleased to host a guest post by the  author Enid Shomer where she tells us how she came to know both these remarkable people and write about them. Ms. Shomer’s short fiction and poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The Paris Review among other publications. This is her first novel. Thanks to her publisher Simon and Schuster for providing two copies of this book for a giveaway (details at the end of the post.) If you want to learn more about Ms. Shomer and her writing, please visit her website. Enjoy!

TWO GENIUSES ON THE NILE

by Enid Shomer

I live in Florida, and was, therefore, surprised to see that Florence Nightingale was running against Thomas Jefferson on my last sample presidential election ballot. While nurses on every continent know that Nightingale invented nursing as a  profession, that before her, nurses were regarded as loose women no better than drunkards, slatterns, or opium addicts, most Americans know little about her. Throughout the old British empire, by contrast,  she is recognized as an iconic heroine, the “Lady with the Lamp.” That epithet derives from the fact that she made rounds at night to tend the wounded soldiers in the hospital at Scutari during the Crimean War, a revolutionary practice at the time. (more…)

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Seven Wonders cover

Gordianus the Finder is back in this prequel to Steven Saylor’s popular series of mysteries set in the Roman Republic of Cicero and Caesar. Gordianus is eighteen and embarks on the First Century BCE equivalent of a “Grand Tour” with his old tutor and famous poet Antipater of Sidon. As the Italian peninsula simmers with rebellion, the pair head east to visit the Seven Wonders of the World encountering murder, mysteries and political intrigues. Over the course of their year+ journey, Gordianus evolves into “the Finder” series readers have come to know and love.

For the record, I am not a Gordianus fan. I very much enjoyed Saylor’s multi-generational epics Roma and Empire, which I reviewed, but didn’t take to the couple of Finder novels I sampled. Not because they were bad books, but because I’m not that into historical mysteries. Every reader has her quirks. This book has a distinctly different structure from the others. Saylor uses the journey to visit the Seven Wonders as a framework for several short stories (many of which were previously published in mystery and fantasy magazines.) Each Wonder gets a story with a few interludes, such as attending the Olympic Games and visiting the ruins of Corinth, resulting in ten chapters dealing with murder, witchcraft, ghosts and gods. As their journey continues, a larger mystery entangles Gordianus and Antipater with spies and other enemies of Rome. (more…)

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