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Kirkus Reviews: VICTOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Swedish princess in 16th-century Estonia forms a special bond with a horse in this middle-grade debut.

It’s 1561, and 11-year-old Ardith is homesick. Her father, Erik, has been crowned king of Estonia (which was recently conquered by Sweden), so they and her mother, Linnea, move to dilapidated Castle Toompea in the capital city of Tallinn. Ardith misses many things about her old home in Stockholm, especially Magi, the horse she left behind. The lonely girl takes refuge in the castle stables, where she strikes up an uncertain friendship with Peeter, the stable master’s son. Ardith is enchanted when a colt with a silver mane is born. She becomes determined to become best friends with the foal, whom she names Victor. It takes a lot of effort—and carrots—but by the time Ardith is 14, she and Victor are inseparable. One day, she’s shocked to find Victor being fitted with a harness; she believes that the horse far too special to pull a carriage, even for the king. Determined to prove that Victor is meant for greater things, she resolves to enter the horse into the Royal Estonian Horse Races. But no woman—not even a princess—has ever jockeyed in that competition, and neither her father nor the Tallinn town council like breaking tradition. Lykens’ first novel has an unusual setting and a plucky heroine, and although Ardith’s feminist notions seem a bit modern for the era, it makes for a much more satisfying story. After all, girls having to fight for gender equality remains an unfortunately timely subject. Youngsters who love horses will enjoy Ardith’s struggle to befriend and train Victor. Readers who aren’t already horse-crazy, though, may find that there’s not much else to hold their interest; a few passages contrast Ardith’s idyllic royal childhood with those of children like Peeter, who now live under foreign control, but the subject is quickly abandoned.

A charming, if slight, historical tale of a girl and her horse.

VICTOR is available from Amazon, IndieBound and other online retailers.

VBT – Stone Circle

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Kate Murdoch is an accomplished painter turned author who has remarkable life story which started in one Australia’s darkest periods. Kate was born 10 weeks premature in the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne in the early 1970s. She remained there for 3 months after being left by her young unwed mother before being adopted out through the hospital program. The social values of Australia during the 1950s-1970s looked unfavourably on children born outside of marriage. With 85-90% of Australians identifying as Christian at this time and sex outside wedlock viewed as sinful by the church – unmarried mothers often found themselves at the mercy of social criticism and ridicule. It became common in Australia for the babies of unwed mothers to be adopted and at its peak in 1971-72, there were almost 10,000 adoptions. Since then, rates of adoption have dropped massively, and over the last two decades have stabilised at around 400-600 children per year. While it is difficult to know the exact number of adoptions over this period – its legacy is thought to affect 1 in 15 Australians.

Having always been aware of her adoptive background, Kate, like most of us, began questioning her identity in her teens. She finally met her mother at 18 but it wasn’t until she was 31 and pregnant with her first child that she finally met her biological father who was unaware of her existence. In 2012, her personal journey inspired her to begin to write. Her new historical fiction novel, Stone Circle came to life at this time after she had a vivid dream about an old man and two boys on a stretch of water in a canoe.

The book is a beautifully imagined work of historical fiction. The characters and themes are very reflective of Kate’s own life, exploring class, rivalry, spiritual growth and identity. Stone Circle is the story of a boy endowed with psychic powers who is apprenticed to a seer in 16th century Italy.

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Press Release:
Author’s own search for identity inspires book about love and family

Melbourne: 17th November 2017 – In the early 1970’s author, Kate Murdoch was born 10 weeks premature in the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne. She remained there for 3 months after being left by her young unwed mother before being adopted out through the hospital program. Kate was extremely fortunate to have been assigned two exemplary people to raise her, both of which would have a huge impact on the person she was destined to become. The social values of Australia during the 1950s-1970s looked unfavourably on children born outside of marriage. With 85-90% of Australians identifying as Christian at this time and sex outside wedlock viewed as sinful by the church – unmarried mothers often found themselves at the mercy of social criticism and ridicule. It became common in Australia for the babies of unwed mothers to be adopted and at its peak in 1971-72, there were almost 10,000 adoptions. Since then, rates of adoption have dropped massively, and over the last two decades have stabilised at around 400-600 children per year. While it is difficult to know the exact number of adoptions over this period – its legacy is thought to affect 1 in 15 Australians.

Having always been aware of her adoptive background, Kate, like most of us, began questioning her identity in her teens. Although she was in a family where she was greatly loved, she was markedly different. Her creative talents surfaced in high school and were recognised with an art award in her final year. After school she went on to study a Bachelor of Fine Art at Monash University. She met her mother at 18 but it wasn’t until she was 31 and pregnant with her first child that she finally met her biological father. It was then that all the questions about her creativity were answered. He was creative and a successful musician. Kate’s struggle with identity and the beginning of her spiritual journey through the study of reiki, in 2012 inspired her to begin to write. Her new historical fiction novel, Stone Circle came to life at this time after she had a vivid dream about an old man and two boys on a stretch of water in a canoe.

Kate says, “I’m so looking forward to sharing this book with readers. This has been a long deeply personal journey and it is wonderful to finally be at this point. As the book reflects, I’ve always identified strongly with European sentiments and I think this is why I have become so preoccupied with European settings in my novels. I decided to set this book in the Renaissance period because at that time there was a lot of exploration into alchemy and I knew that the old man in my dream was imparting a knowledge of some kind to the two boys. I hope this book reminds readers that the only constraints are those that exist in our own minds.”

The book is a beautifully imagined work of historical fiction. The characters and themes are very reflective of Kate’s own life, exploring class, rivalry, spiritual growth and identity. The book follows the journey of a young Antonius who is sent off to work to support his family after his father dies. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status, and Antonius has limited opportunities. When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son. The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future.

The book encapsulates so many aspects of Kate’s own life and her choice of the Renaissance period is one clearly made by a painter turned writer. Her years exhibiting and modelling in Australia, Asia and Europe have given her a broad understanding of the global village that is the world today. Her protagonist breaks out of his own societal expectations and class limitations, due to his talent and good character – which is highly reflective of her own personal journey.

This book will appeal to lovers of historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. Kate will be launching the book on Wednesday 6th December at Page 8 in Hampton.

About the Author:
Kate Murdoch is a Melbourne-based writer and artist. She exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally and was a finalist in many prize shows before turning her hand to writing. In between writing historical fiction, she enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction. Her short-form fiction is regularly published in Australia, UK, US and Canada. She also writes for her blog at https://kabiba.wordpress.com/.
Kate’s second novel is Stone Circle, a beautifully imagined work of historical fiction. An earlier version of Stone Circle was widely-acclaimed on the HarperCollins UK website, Authonomy, where it was chosen by the editors as the “one to watch” and ultimately ended up ranked 16th out of more than 10,000 manuscripts.

Kate Murdoch is available for interview. For media enquiries or to request a review copy of the book please contact, Aisling Gilhooly – Publicist on M: 0424 520 345 or E: aisling@aislingenterprises.com.au

The book is available for purchase for $AUD22.95 from December 1st through Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia and Kobo.

Reviews for Stone Circle
“Murdoch presents a delightful romance, feathered with light touches of fantasy. The development of her love triangle is gratifying, and even secondary characters offer stark dramatic moments…”Kirkus Reviews

“Kate Murdoch’s characters are so greatly human, that it’s easy to sympathise with them: to cheer them on during hard times and to admonish them for being foolish. Her characters’ interactions with each other and their individualities helped shape the book into something wonderful; at the same time she excels at pacing the story with her characters, all within a framework designed to help readers understand the world of seers and alchemy she has created.”Readers’ Favorite (5 Stars)

“Kate Murdoch’s STONE CIRCLE is a stunning historical fantasy debut set in Renaissance Italy, packed with rich imagery, well-developed characters, and an enthralling plot. The execution of the love triangle is both captivating and refreshing, weaving love, jealousy, and rivalry into a complicated but realistic story of one young seer’s journey into alchemy and adulthood. I can’t wait to read more by Kate Murdoch.”Madeline Dyer, author of the Untamed series

Stone Circle is a tale of 16th century Italy, but not as you have ever read about it before. This history is enlivened by a famous seer, his beautiful psychic daughter, two smitten apprentices, magic rituals, shape-shifting birds, evil brewing and true love, a thrilling combination that hooked me from the beginning. Kate Murdoch’s fabulous writing is full of vivid sounds, sights and scents that pull us into the scene, expressed in inspired word combinations that are a joy to read. A wonderful, entertaining book.’Gail Cleare, USA Today bestselling author

 

Cover Reveal – Stitches in Time by Terri DuLong

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Title: Stitches in Time
Author: Terri DuLong
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: Romance
Format: Ebook

DuLong reminds me of a Southern Debbie Macomber but with a flair all her own.” –Karin Gillespie

New York Times bestselling author Terri DuLong spins a new skein of love, loss, and new beginnings in sunny Ormond Beach, Florida, where even the most painful past can become the most hopeful future…

Isabelle Wainwright is no stranger to heartache. She was just fifteen when her mother left her to be raised by her father so she could start a new life across the country. Rather than crumbling in despair, Isabelle eventually stitched together her own path, graduating from college and starting a family in Atlanta. But her hard-won fairytale ending is beginning to unravel…

The shock of her father’s sudden death is compounded when Isabelle’s husband leaves her and her daughter for someone else. Reeling from being abandoned yet again, she finds comfort in Chloe Radcliffe, her father’s girlfriend, who encourages her to move to Ormond Beach, Florida, and help her run her yarn shop. There, Isabelle may find the strength to confront her past, build new friendships, and perhaps even learn to love in a way she never thought possible…

Stitches in Time

Includes An Original Knitting Pattern!

Praise for Terri DuLong’s Cedar Key Novels

A heartwarming story…Great for fans of Kate Jacobs’s ‘Friday Night Knitting Club’ series.” –Library Journal on Farewell to Cedar Key

An intriguing premise, a cozy, small-town backdrop, and even the hint of some magic. . .A sweet story, set in a friendly community.” –Kirkus on Postcards from Cedar Key

Tender and poignant, perfect for those who love knitting as well as the bonds between women.” –RT Book Reviews (4 Stars) on Sunrise on Cedar Key

“A delightful addition to that genre of needlecraft-inspired books.” –Library Journal on Casting About

ORDER INFORMATION

Stiches in Time is available for order at

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
Add to Goodreads

About The Author

Terri DuLong new

 

Born and raised north of Boston, Terri DuLong was a previous resident of Cedar Key, Florida. She now resides on the east coast of the state in Ormond Beach with her husband, three dogs and two cats. A retired Registered Nurse, she began her writing career as a contributing writer for Bonjour Paris, where she shared her travel experiences to France in over forty articles with a fictional canine narrator.  Terri’s love of knitting provides quiet time to develop her characters and plots as she works on her new Ormond Beach novels. You can visit her website at www.terridulong.com or at her Facebook fan page, www.facebook.com/TerriDuLongAuthor

For More Information

Visit Terri’s website.

Connect with Terri on Facebook, and  Twitter

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