Friday, November 6, 2020

Alina: A Song for the Telling ~ Book Blog Tour, Excerpt, & Giveaway!

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Alina: A Song For The Telling

by Malve von Hassell

Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
 August 27, 2020
232 pages 
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SYNOPSIS

Alina_A Song For the Telling

ALINA: A SONG FOR THE TELLING is the coming-of-age story of a young woman from Provence in the 12th century who travels to Jerusalem, where she is embroiled in political intrigue, theft, and murder, and finds her voice. 

“You should be grateful, my girl. You have no dowry, and I am doing everything I can to get you settled. You are hardly any man’s dream.” Alina’s brother Milos pulled his face into a perfect copy of Aunt Marci’s sour expression, primly pursing his mouth. He got her querulous tone just right. Maybe Alina’s aunt was right. She could not possibly hope to become a musician, a trobairitz—impoverished as she was and without the status of a good marriage. 

But Alina refuses to accept the life her aunt wants to impose on her. At the first opportunity she and her brother embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to pray for their father’s soul and to escape from their aunt and uncle’s strictures. Their journey east takes them through the Byzantine Empire all the way to Jerusalem, where Alina is embroiled in political intrigue, theft, and murder. Forced by a manipulative, powerful lord at court into acting as an informer, Alina tries to protect her wayward brother, while coming to terms with her attraction to a French knight.

EXCERPT

Excerpt from Chapter 9 – "Arriving in Jerusalem"

 

I don’t know why I thought Jerusalem would be in a desert.

We had been climbing steadily along rocky terrain over the past few days, and I had imagined small, sad, stone buildings spread out across a merciless plain with the sun beating down.

Instead we were greeted by a vista of green hills with Jerusalem nestled among them, a densely constructed town with glowing white sandstone walls and imposing gates. I squinted up at the sky, marveling at the tall tower above the walls of the city.

“Thy neck is like the Tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.”

Startled, I turned around and saw Stephen had ridden up behind me.

“That’s beautiful,” I murmured, unsure where to look as my face flushed, but when I sneaked a glance at him, he smiled at me. It was a quote. I knew that much.

“The Song of Songs has some very apt descriptions,” he said before nudging his horse on.

 My eyes on his straight back and my cheeks burning, I remembered how my father used to tease me like that with quotes from various works, delighted when I recognized them.

Soon we reached the gate and entered the town. After the days of quiet riding through the plains, it was strange to hear the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves echoing from the stone walls amidst the sounds of a busy town.

The streets were crowded, and we had to maneuver carefully around people leading donkeys with carts carrying carpets, fruits, vegetables, and large clay jars, and many others going about their business. Children ran alongside our group, shouting and calling out in their excitement. We rode on a central street up a hill and emerged on a plaza with another gate flanked by tall brick walls leading into a courtyard.

Laughter reached us as we came to a stop.

A girl clad in a flowing silver-grey robe, her long, dark hair loose down her back, stood in front of two young men smiling at her. The men looked relaxed, their surcoats tossed onto a bench, and the padded doublets knights wore under their armor open at the neck. She had her hands on her hips in a provocative pose. “You think I can’t do that?” she challenged. Her voice was surprisingly deep and husky.

The men chuckled.

Count Raymond, meanwhile, had dismounted and walked over to the group. The men looked askance, bowed hastily, grabbed their surcoats, and moved away.

“Sibylla,” he said, with a stern note in his voice.

The girl flicked her shawl as she turned to him, managing to look irritated and provocative at the same time. “Oh, Cousin Raymond, you have returned from Acre.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alina_A Song For the Telling Malve_von_Hassell
Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. Working as an independent scholar, she published The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schlie├čt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has self-published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (Mill City Press, 2012) and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay, Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures (Two Harbors Press, 2012). She has published The Falconer’s Apprentice (namelos, 2015) and Alina: A Song for the Telling (BHC Press, 2020), and has another forthcoming historical fiction novel, The Amber Crane (Odyssey Press, 2020). She is working on a biographical account of a woman coming of age in Germany during World War II. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and BookBub Visit her website

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