Susanne Dunlap

#BlogTour | The Spirit Of Fire (The Orphans of Tolosa Trilogy #2) by Susanne Dunlap #TheSpiritOfFire #Review #HFVBTBlogTour @Susanne_Dunlap @hfvbt

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Hello sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; The Spirit of Fire by Susanne Dunlap. I am super excited to be sharing my review of this gorgeous book with you all, so settle back grab a cuppa and enjoy!

The Spirit of Fire by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: December 6, 2019

Series: Orphans of Tolosa, Book two
Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Listen to the Wind has been rated 10 out of 10 and was a quarterfinalist in the BookLife Prize, and won a Gold badge from the International Review of Books.

The eagerly anticipated sequel to Listen to the Wind, “A complex, absorbing, and dramatic start to a planned series.” -Kirkus Reviews

Azemar—now a knight and Baron of Montpezat—has rescued his childhood friend, Azalais, from the Castel de Belascon, where she was forced to disguise as a noblewoman and become the wife of the baron. But the captivating trobairitz Jordane de la Moux d’Aniort and her damozel Johana have escaped with them, putting them all in grave peril. Will Jordane’s conflicting goal of reuniting with the rebel Raimon de Berenger thwart Azemar and Azalais’s quest to solve the mystery of their origins, which they believe lies within the heretic fortress of Montsegur? When a cryptic note leads them to the Templar stronghold at Mas Deu, Azemar undergoes brutal trials, and discovers that his ultimate purpose could lead him to betray the very people he wants to protect. And their altered route leads Azalais into the path of her old enemy, the Dominican monk, Fraire Martin. Full of surprising twists and turns, dangerous adventures, and true love, The Spirit of Fire continues the Orphans of Tolosa Trilogy.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

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Praise for Listen to the Wind

Listen to the Wind has been rated 10 out of 10 in the BookLife Prize and won a Gold badge from the International Review of Books.

“Dunlap breathes life into the distant 13th-century setting… Poetry and music are as essential to the plot as warfare, with engaging glimpses of trobairitz (female troubadours). . . . A complex, absorbing, and dramatic start to a planned series.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Listen to the Wind is in its own league. Completely imaginative, mature and playful all at once, this book doesn’t compete with any other novel for its spot on the bookshelf, as it will outshine many and sit comfortably among the classics.” – The BookLife Prize

“Susanne Dunlap… is both a superb storyteller and a rich historian of the period. Its customs and language, castles, troubadours, mountains, thick forests, villages, monasteries, and vineyards come vividly to life as Azemar and Azalaïs find themselves drawn into a path that will shape history.” – Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille: a novel of Monet

“In its mix of page-turning thriller with well researched historical novel, it draws comparison to the finely crafted work of Kate Mosse and Ariana Franklin.” – Nancy Bilyeau, author of
The Blue and the Joanna Stafford trilogy

“Susanne Dunlap’s sweeping saga captivates readers’ imaginations from the first page, plunging them back into the Languedoc region of France in the 13th Century. Her impeccable research allows her three spirited protagonists to live, love, fight and breathe life into the dangerous period of rebellion and inquisition, when the Cathars struggled to hold on to their culture and old faith against the power of the Pope. A compelling read for lovers of adventure and romance.” -Anne Easter Smith, author of
A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, Royal Mistress

“The fortitude and ingenuity of her characters helps them adapt to all manner of circumstances, and the result is an engaging tale of escape, secrets, and mental toughness. For those looking for a smartly written captivating read, I highly recommend this first book in the Orphans of Tolosa trilogy.” – Amy Hawes, Book Club Babble

“This is an intriguing and complex story with lots of secrets and lies interwoven within the characters personal stories, it is charming, exciting and mesmerising.” – Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

“I love how vibrant the world is made, how danger really struck fear into my heart, how the pain felt real…everything is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed this.” – Clarissa Reads It All

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Here it is the highly waited for the second instalment of the Orphan’s of Tolosa Trilogy, The Spirit of Fire carries on from where the previous book left off as the Orphans; Azemar and Azalais continue with their perilous journey through the Languedoc. For those have yet discovered the beauty of this series, I would definitely recommend that you read the books in order, that way you won’t miss out on anything within the intricate and compelling plot.

Set during the 13th century, the Languedoc has been torn apart after years, upon years of crusades all against the Cathar heretics and now we have reached penultimate last stand between the catholic church and the people who reside in the Montegur Fortress. After the death of his patron; the Baron de Montpezat, Azemar get the shock of his life as he is the named the Baron’s heir, but he and fellow orphan Azalais – who is currently in disguise – after their escape from the Castel de Balascon they are now fugitives and must reach the safety of the Fortress, but they aren’t alone in their escape they were followed by Jordane de la Moux d’Aniort and Johana, whose very presence could cost them all dearly especially with Jordane’s urgency to be reunited with her rebel Raimon.

Azemar receive a cryptic note which sends them off on a journey, one that could lead them to their destiny – which if you have read the first book you will know all about this shared destiny between Azemar and Azalais – the notes take them to the Templar monks at M’as Deau, but once there, Azemar finds that all is not exactly how it seems and he is put to the test in more ways then one.

Susanne Dunlap is a master storyteller, she has a incredible skill and drawing the reader into a dark and perilous time in history, her attention to detail is mind-blowing, as is her grasp of the language, the history and the all-round culture and violence of the times. As with the previous, it is evident from the first page the amount of time and research which has gone into every part of the story, and the same can be said about the author’s passion for the era, for the people and for the history. The violence that the Cathars went through once being classed as heretics was unnerving and at times is very difficult reading as with other books that feature this sort of violence to another human, the history needs to be told, it needs to be learned from.

What I particularly loved about this book is it’s strong and brilliantly portrayed female character’s, Susanne Dunlap has given a voice to these amazing women. They are strong, brave, loyal and fierce, it was wonderful watching the story unfold through their eyes.

Overall this is an amazingly mesmerising and unique book with an unpredictable and engrossing plot which is full of surprises, mystery, deadly history, adventure and Templars. It is so beautifully written, the rich and vivid historical detail is completely immersive and very highly recommended for anyone who loves their darker and really in-depth historical fiction.

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About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for adults (Emilie’s Voice and Liszt’s Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster). Four are for young adults (The Musician’s Daughter, Anastasia’s Secret, In the Shadow of the Lamp, and The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, four step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and nine grandchildren!

In her spare time she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.

For more information, please visit The Orphans of Tolosa website. You can follow author Susanne Dunlap on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, December 6
Review at Nursebookie
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, December 9
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Review at Mama’s Reading Corner

Tuesday, December 10
Feature at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, December 11
Interview at The Writing Desk

Thursday, December 12
Review at Books and Zebras
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Friday, December 13
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Sunday, December 15
Review at my.boys.mom

Monday, December 16
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, December 18
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 19
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, December 20
Review at Coffee and Ink

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a set of Listen to the Wind & The Spirit of Fire by Susanne Dunlap! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Listen to the Wind

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.


#BlogTour : Listen To The Wind (The Orphans of Tolosa #1) by @Susanne_Dunlop #Review & #GuestPost #ListenToTheWind #TheOrphansOfTolosa @HFVTB

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Hello everyone! I have the great pleasure to be todays stop on this wonderful blog tour for; Listen To The Wind by Susanne Dunlap. Let me tell you that I have a mammoth post for you all today; Not only will I be sharing my review of this splendid book, I also have an exclusive guest post by Susanne for you all – and it is an amazing post and there is a chance to win a cop of Listen To The Wind. So without further ado, sit back and enjoy.

Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: April 22, 2019
Publisher: Bellastoria Press
Format: eBook & Paperback; 388 Pages

Series: The Orphans of Tolosa, Book 1
Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval

 

 

Sent away from their families for their own protection when they were very young, Azemar and Azalaïs become separated when they are forced to flee from the band of outlaws who served as their supposed protectors. Armed only with scraps of memories and the wits and intelligence that have helped them survive brutal conditions, they struggle to find each other again and discover the mysterious past that links them across distance and time. Who are they? And do they hold the secret of the legendary Cathar treasure? All they know is that knights and monks spell danger, and they must find a way to survive at all costs if they are to fulfill their destiny—and preserve their vanishing culture.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Kobo

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Guest Post by Susanne Dunlap

One of the best things about being a historical novelist is having the opportunity to delve deeply into a period and imagine the world as it was at that time. Perhaps that’s why, in order to put in the months (or years) of researching and writing a historical novel I have to become completely passionate about my subject and my characters—real or invented.

Most of my novels have taken place in the modern world, from the 17th-20th centuries. But something about the world of thirteenth-century Languedoc caught me and simply wouldn’t let me go.

It all started in grad school. I was studying music history at Yale University, working toward a PhD, and loving every minute of the research and writing. When in the medieval seminar I found out about the women troubadours (trobairitz) of Languedoc in the 12th and 13th centuries, I was utterly intrigued. Apparently all 20 of the trobairitz historians know of came from one small region of what is now southern France, but was then its own patchwork of political entities and its own culture. They didn’t even speak French, but spoke what is now referred to as Old Occitan, and was then sometimes referred to as Lemozin.

The troubadours and trobairitz wrote courtly poetry in very complex metrical forms. The subjects were love, of course, but in the case of the trobairitz, the love was decidedly earthly. They spoke of disappointments, of unrequited love, of friendship, and passion—where the men tended to go in a more esoteric direction, making the object of their love poetry the idea of a lady rather than an actual living, breathing, woman.

So, I thought, these women who weren’t afraid to be honest must have been strong, intelligent, educated, and imaginative. What’s not to like?

Very little is known about the real lives of the trobairitz, so I found myself creating characters and a story that integrated the poetry and music, and captured the volatility of the period. Because trobairitz came from the educated upper classes, Jordane de la Moux d’Aniort, daughter of a baron, is the trobairitiz in Listen to the Wind.

The Orphans of Tolosa trilogy (of which Listen to the Wind is book one) takes place as the culture of the region is being crushed by the inquisition, which not only sought to eradicate the Cathar heretics, but to impose the legal systems of northern France and subsume the region into the territories ruled by the King of France.

Although the region is now fully part of France, a modern version of the language is still spoken, and the descendants of those fiercely independent people cling to their cultural heritage. In recognition of this heritage, what used to be known as Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrenees is (as of 2016) now referred to as Occitanie, and if you visit there, you’ll see many street signs in both French and Occitan.

It is my hope that readers will not only be drawn into the adventures of the characters in Listen to the Wind, but also appreciate the culture that inspired the story.

More historical tidbits and a glossary of Old Occitan terms featured in the book is at https://orphansoftolosa.com.

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Well, what can I say about this book? Thrilling, engaging, illuminating and brilliantly entwined with history and a wonderfully complex story. It takes you on a real adventure through 13th Centaury France, the colourful writing makes every scene so beautifully detailed and vivid you can see it playout like a film in your mind.

I haven’t read any of Susanne Dunlap’s work before, but after reading this – or should that be; devoured – I will definitely be reading more, her writing is so imaginative and atmospheric that you become completely lost in the story and before you know it you have whiled away a full afternoon.

The story opens with siblings; Azalais and Azemar who are living in a orphanage in Tolosa, they live a happy simple life roaming around the woods and surrounding area, making up games with the other orphans abuts knights in shining armour and damsels in distress. Everything in their life is good, that is until a illness spreads throughout the area and the people who were supposed to be protecting them soon turn on them and the other orphans, thinking it them that has caused all this illness and death. The children flee for their lives and in the melee Azalais and Azemar become separated, promising to meet up.

But, all doesn’t go to plan and what should have been a simple meet each other again in the next town turns into years of uncertainty and adventure for our two youngsters. What at first appears to be a very simple story of these two young people trying to forge their way through such hardships and attempting to find one and other again, you soon realise that this is far more then that. There is a ethereal and magical quality to the story, that is both surprising and addictive reading. We soon see that there is more to these two then meets the eyes, they have secrets buried within them that even they don’t know and even though once they have separated and when they try to find their feet they are more intricately entwined to one and other then originally thought.

So when they meet again years later, which is an amazing and gorgeous scene their shared past and destined future soon becomes clear.

This is an intriguing and complex story with lots of secrets and lies interwoven within the characters personal stories, it is charming, exciting and mesmerising. Ms Dunlap’s writing is wonderfully immersive and brilliantly atmospheric, there is a real starlight quality to this book which will grab any readers attention.

Definitely a must read, I cannot wait to see what comes next in this series.

This was a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review as apart of this blog tour, thank you Susanne and Amy.

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About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for adults (Emilie’s Voice and Liszt’s Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster). Four are for young adults (The Musician’s Daughter, Anastasia’s Secret, In the Shadow of the Lamp, and The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, four step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and nine grandchildren!

In her spare time she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.

For more information, please visit The Orphans of Tolosa website. You can follow author Susanne Dunlap on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Make sure you go back through the blog tour and check out all the blogs which have participated.

Monday, May 13
Review at Bibliophile Reviews

Tuesday, May 14
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, May 15
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 16
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, May 17
Review at Bookish Sarah
Review at Comet Readings
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 20
Review & Guest Post at Clarissa Reads it All
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, May 21
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, May 22
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, May 23
Interview at Donna’s Book Blog

Friday, May 24
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 27
Review at Macsbooks
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, May 28
Review at Coffee and Ink
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away one copy of Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Listen to the Wind

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.