Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: Songs of Seraphina by Jude Houghton @yaboundtourspr

Songs of Seraphina
Jude Houghton
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: June 30th 2015
Tenebris Books, Grimbold Books

Summary from Goodreads:

Some battles bleed so much, and for so long, that the earth never truly forgets their dead. Some battles are born of oppression, and some of greed, and some simply because it was written in the stars.

Three sisters—Charlemagne, Cairo and Pendragon Agonistes—are sent from America to England to live with their eccentric grandparents after their mother disappears and their father falls to pieces. But before the girls have time to find their feet, Charlemagne is married off to a dead man, Penny takes a nap and wakes up as a boy, and Cairo is swept into a dangerous romance with a man who wants her for more than her considerable charm. With the girls wrapped up in a conflict they barely understand, they don’t notice that their grandmother is transforming, or that the two demigod assassins who took their mother are now coming for them—if one of them can get over his crisis of conscience.

In this richly painted tale, at whose heart is the unbreakable bond of family and blood, the world of Seraphina collides with our own as three unique girls are dragged into twilight lives past, fighting for vengeance, retribution, and the survival of their exiled people.

An Excerpt From Songs of Seraphina

“What do we do now?”

Hamquist shrugged. Crakes gestured down the garden. Another shrug.

Crakes scratched his chin with his stump, and then, for want of any better ideas, swung the head in a circle, and threw it as hard as he could. Arching high in the air, it twirled and sprayed blood before landing with a thud in the adjoining field.

“There,” he said, pleased with himself, “the stench will attract a nibbler and that will be that.”

Hamquist said nothing but pointed to the ground, to the headless corpse already beginning to attract flies.

Ah yes, Crakes thought, the problem of the rest, the bigger piece.

“I’m not throwing that thing,” he said hurriedly, suspecting that this was somehow becoming his responsibility.

After taking a life in Divine Judgment, a huge conflagration would rise, consume the body, and release the spirit. No mess, no fuss. However, when battle degenerated into farce, when a mere man had the audacity to challenge demigods, it was all they could do to keep their dignity. There would be no soul-purging fire for this Ward. Crakes would be unable to conjure one even if he tried.

“Agh,” snarled Hamquist suddenly, “forget this for a game of soldiers.”

He raised a hand and the ground opened up before him; twelve feet of solid earth displaced in an instant. He gave the body one sharp kick and it plunged down into the cavity. He then flicked his wrist and the earth fell back into place, burying the body in a deep, inescapable tomb.

Crakes stared in stunned silence.

“What are you looking at?” Hamquist crossed his arms.

“You’ve never done that before.”

“Never needed to.”

“What is it for?” Crakes asked. All talents had a purpose.

“Don’t ask.”

“Tell me.”

“No,” Hamquist said and turned towards the woods.

“All right.” Crakes shrugged, not willing to push it. “I’ll meet you there.”


“I need to replace these.” Crakes gestured at his leather breeches. They hung in strips, torn away completely at the groin. He would have to find something in the Ward’s house, unless he wanted to continue the hunt naked.

Hamquist raised an eyebrow. “I’ll see you there, then . . . tiny.”

Crakes forced a smile at what he assumed was a joke, still shaken by the earlier confrontation. Was his defiance forgotten? Or would Hamquist’s fury rise again?

In the sky, the dark clouds that had been mustering finally snuffed out the sun. The commonfolk believed that rain out of season was a sign of a god’s displeasure—the drops of water, divine spittle. Perhaps it was. He cursed under his breath. Watching Hamquist stride towards the forest, he thought again about Cairo Agonistes. And her sister, the one who looked like Mia. The first drops of rain ran down his cheek and dripped from his chin and Crakes wondered how long it would be until they could finally go home.

An Interview with Jude Houghton

What inspired you to write Songs of Seraphina?

It was a freezing November. My family were away. I was at home, drinking a glass of wine, sitting by the fire and reading a description of a Viking burial that was an eyewitness account, written in 922 by Ibn Fadlan. For some reason I found it very moving, the words, that someone had put down over a thousand years ago, to describe what was essentially a local custom where a young girl is selected to be burned alive on flaming boat with her Lord. “When one of their chiefs dies, his family asks his girls and pages, ‘Which one of you will dies with him?’ Then one of them answers, “I”. From that time that she utters the word, she is no longer free.” I stared into the flames, and began to wonder what if that ritual were to happen today? What would possibly be the circumstances, and then I began to write.

When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I always enjoyed reading, but when I was about 15 and trying to make sense of the world, I fell in love with literature, and the more I read, the more I came across books that made me want to write. High School exams, University, Job, Work, Life intervened, but the reading didn’t stop and neither did the desire. Then one freezing November. My family were away. I was at home, drinking a glass of wine…

What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

The very first books I remember reading encompassed topics like water, runaway balloons and magic lollipops. However, on my fifth birthday I was given two Desmond the Dinosaur books by Althea. I don’t remember too much about the stories except that I loved them and that Desmond ate many lettuces and went on exciting adventures, like going on an unlikely adventure to Scotland (packing only lettuces) and finding the Loch Ness monster. The first book I really just sat down and just read, read, read was The Hobbit. I remember getting it out of the library, and taking it home and sitting down and not getting up again for about two days.

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

This one is easy. EVERYTHING. I have no preferred genre. My favorite books of recent times have spanned historical fiction, Wolf Hall, Greek mythology, Song of Achilles, and Science Fiction, Ready Player One. If I think it’s good, I read it, if I like the first chapter, I read all of it. The only books I have never really warmed to are romance. I wouldn’t touch 50 Shades of Grey with a 10 foot pole. No entendre intended.

What is your favorite book?

Really, really difficult to say. Every five years I change my mind. Three-way tie: Dune, Ulysses and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

It is SO difficult to pick out a favorite, so I’m going to cheat. Here are a sample of authors I love from they very high brow to the gutter: Joyce, Dickens, Hall Caine, Dick Francis, PD James, Frank Herbert, Magnus Mills, JK Rowling (of course! And I include Casual Vacancy in that, albeit a very depressing novel), Ernest Kline, Michael Frayn, Hilary Mantel, Trollope, Bronte, Madeline Miller, Stephen King, Tolkien, JD Salinger, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, Asimov, Iain Banks, Virginia Woolf, Aldus Huxley, John LeCarre, John Wyndham, Shirley Jackson, Anthony Powell (and JK Rowling… I know how much borrowed from him! Dr Trelawney/Trelawney? Slughorn/Sillery? Come on!), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Tim Winton.
Why do I love them? Because they take me somewhere I can’t travel to otherwise.

If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

So unless I could take my family and dog with me, I would stay right here. But…if I had to go back, there are many temptations. Imperial Rome, Renaissance France, Elizabethan England, at the court, of course. However, a nobleman in early 1700s England; the era of coffee house society and Augustan literature, before coal, and trains, and the industrial revolution.

When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

There is nothing easy about writing. It can be enjoyable, but sometimes it feels like having homework, seven nights a week, and no matter how much you do, it’s never done. The way I write is in intense bursts, but if the story is not coming, I can sometimes spend a long time doing very, very little. Balancing erasers on pencils usually. However, there are good times too, when the characters begin to speak to you and you become submerged in the people, place and time, and reach periods where you are hardly aware of what you are saying until the page, or chapter, or even section is done. Those are the times you work for.

Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

Current pets: Dog, black german shepherd, called Daisy. Absurdly entitled, but one of those great dogs who is joy to have, especially at this time of year, when the daft thing tries to rake up the leaves, after watching the children do it. A fish. Doesn’t do much. Hermit crabs. They only come out at night…the days are much to bright.

What is your "to die for", favorite food/foods to eat?

Apple pie and ice cream, with a massive cup of strong coffee. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?

Write because you love writing. Only if you find it worthwhile will it be a joy.

About the Author

Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realising an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.


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Mary Preston said...

I enjoy a lot of genres too. A great excerpt thank you.

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