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Tag: "adventure"

Review: The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx by Linda A. Cadose

[ 2 ] December 24, 2013

g12c0000000000000005ee10a7615afdc240f65e81e424fe4877eb8fefbReviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Hidden Chamber in the Great Sphinx is an archaeological mystery aimed at middle school kids. I think that all the problems I had with this book stemmed from its target audience. I was not it and unlike many of the famous books – Harry Potter, Bartimaeus, Artemis Fowl, etc. – The Hidden Chamber will likely have a narrower appeal.

The book started off by introducing the protagonist Dr. Cliff Post, who’s a very nice guy but a little naive. I suspect that Cliff’s purpose was to help the reader feel smarter than him and see things coming. I think the weirdest part – and one that irritated me the most – was that Cliff, a college professor teaching archaeology and a member of the Archaeology Society – believed that aliens helped the Egyptians and other early peoples create their pyramids and other wonders.

Dr. Post has a friend in Egypt, Dr. Saad, and he discovers a chamber under one of the paws of the Great Sphinx. Dr. Saad invites his friend Cliff to join him on the exploratory dig to find out what is in the chamber. There is however a bit of a problem: Dr. Sadat hates having non-Egyptians working in Egypt because of their years of theft from the country. Dr. Sadat wants to have full control of the dig site and is trying to have it put into his hands.

After the site has been opened up, strange things start happening around Dr. Post, like sand in his gas tank. Dr. Saad thinks that Dr. Sadat might be behind it, but Dr. Post can’t believe a well known and respected person such as Dr. Sadat would ever try to do something so underhanded.

Things continue to escalate and actually become dangerous for our hero, especially after some of the artifacts found turn out to be a form of computer. (Subtly linking back to Dr. Posts belief in alien interference)

I think it would be a very good book for 5-7th graders who like stories about Egypt with a little excitement added in. It was written cleanly and it did tell a decent story. I suspect I would have enjoyed reading the book much more had I been in the target market. As things stand, I thought it wasn’t bad.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Book Publicity Services. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

[ 3 ] December 14, 2013

Inferno-coverReviewed by Sara Drake

Robert Landon (hero of The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol) returns for another adventure. He wakes in a hospital with no memory of why he is in Italy or what day it is – then someone comes to kill him. Racing through Italy, Robert attempts to solve the mystery of his lost memories, avoid those trying to find him, and save humanity. Of course, he has help. The beautiful and mysterious Dr. Brooks.

Dan Brown offers another book with all his trade mark charm. Like most Dan Brown books, you will either enjoy this fast paced adventure or you will hate it. In Inferno, Dan Brown shifts his focus to overpopulation while chasing the symbology found in art and Dante’s Divine Comedy. The insights into Divine Comedy were absolutely fascinating and held my attention throughout. The exotic backdrops and constant action keep the reader turning pages.

Mr. Brown turns the table on the readers two-thirds of the way through the book in a move that would have been stunning if it had worked. Not only wasn’t I convinced by the turn-around, I thought it took a great deal of the suspense from the book, leaving the last portion of the book boring and unsatisfying. Mostly, it felt like a cheat. It seemed like Mr. Brown got so far with the book and couldn’t figure out how to keep it exciting, so he took a short cut. I would explain more but I really don’t want to spoil anything. Fans of Dan Brown will read the book regardless of any review and I would hate to be the one to take the fun of the ending away from them.

I enjoy Mr. Brown’s books, even the ones I roll my eyes at, because he has unique style and voice. All of his books make me pause at least once to actually think about something – which may be why I continue to read them. I enjoyed this one, too, reading it straight through. I’m just not yet willing to forgive him for the ending, so feel free to ignore my complaints.

Overall, Mr. Brown gives us detailed descriptions of foreign destinations, a chance for the reader to travel there in their own minds. I have previously visited many of the locales he describes and enjoyed the trip down memory lane. I could almost taste the cappuccinos. At times, the layers of descriptions felt distracting and I had to fight the urge to skim.

I am sure I’ll pick up the next book he writes. He’s written worse books than this one and much better books. Overall, if you’re a Dan Brown fan, read this book.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Sara Drake has been an avid reader since a young age. She has both a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s in History.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Doubleday. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review & Giveaway: Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

[ 18 ] December 10, 2013

9780061991066_p0_v2_s260x420Reviewed by Jenna Arthur

Be sure to enter the giveaway below! Five winners will receive a copy of The Blood Gospel, the first book in the series, and a grand prize winner will receive both The Blood Gospel and Innocent Blood!

In Innocent Blood, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, not everything is as it seems. Erin is a curious and brilliant archaeologist determined to delve into the words of the Blood Gospel, thought to have been written by Christ himself. After a horrible attack in California, Erin is driven back to the order of the Sanguines – an order founded on Christ’s blood – where she must find the missing link that holds the key to this darkness. The only problem is that she is not alone in this pursuit. Another, more sinister man is also in pursuit of this object for his own dark purposes. He wishes to bring about the end of the world: the end all, be all Apocalypse.

Along with Jourdan, an army sergeant, and Father Rhun, a member of the order of Sanguines, Erin must fight to save the world and the boy believed to be the gospel made flesh: an angel in human form. But can this priest be trusted? He is a member of the Order of Sanguines, an order of what some may call vampires. These three must fight their way through trials and tribulations and delve deep into the life of Christ in order to find and extinguish this perilous threat.

Innocent Blood gives the reader intrigue, bringing Catholicism, Vampiric literature and mystery all together and then wrapping it all up in a beautiful bow. It gives a deeper, darker view of the world and the mysteries that are unknown to most. Mystery readers, fantasy, and even crime literature lovers will all dig their heels into this book and find that it satisfies their need for amusement. Though a bit slow at times, Innocent Blood is still a great book to pick up when you are looking for something less deep and more indulgent, like a decadent cup of hot chocolate on a cold day.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jenna lives in the bustling city of Pittsburgh, PA with her wife, her chihuahua Penny, her retriever Ella and her two beautiful cats. Along with her passion for reading and the literary world, she is also an artist, writer, environmental activist, creative coordinator and aspiring culinary genius. She believes there is nothing better to her then a good book, and lives one cover to the next.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Wild Roses by Robert J. Elisberg

[ 0 ] November 12, 2013

The Wild Roses novelReviewed by Colleen Turner

France, 1648: The monarchy is left vulnerable in the hands of its 10 year-old King Louis XIV and his mother, the Queen Regent. Sensing this as the ideal time to bring down the crown, the aristocrats, led by the sinister and calculating Marquis de Longueville, begin taking the law into their own hands and kidnap the child king, hoping to force the abdication of the royal family and reestablish the feudal privileges that allowed them to reign over their own land unobstructed. As the queen and her chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin, work to keep the king’s abduction a secret and find him before it is discovered, law begins to breakdown around France and chaos threatens to erupt into civil war.

With this swirling around them, three very different women find themselves thrust together: Racine Tarascon, a quick-tempered gypsy with a whip smart intelligence and sword skills to match; Gabrielle Parnesse, a flirty actress quick on her feet and always ready to be the center of any stage; and Charlotte le Renaud, a sheltered, sweet noblewoman desperate to find her place in a world that is quickly unraveling around her. As each woman initially sets out on her own mission they soon begin fighting together to try and bring order back to those innocent people bullied by the French aristocracy. When they discover just how far the Marquis is willing to go for his own power, they set out on a quest to not only save the King but all of France as they know it.

The Wild Roses is a fun, quirky sort of story that finds three beautiful women in the role of Musketeers. As I don’t know very much about this time period in France and no author’s notes were given detailing what is factual and what is fiction, I am hesitant to say how true to life the story really is. There were many times when I had to turn off my instinct to second guess the accuracy of the history and just enjoy the story for what it was. I had to do this with the language style as well, as it seemed to be very modern at times before transitioning back to what I would think better fit the setting. This being said, the adventures of Charlotte, Racine and Gabrielle were quite funny at times and I enjoyed their story line more than any other part of the book.

My biggest complaint with The Wild Roses would have to be that there were quite a few editing errors that kept pulling me out of the story and made for a disjointed and awkward reading experience at times. Missing words, double words and odd word placement kept throwing me off and making me reread the sentences to figure out what was going on. This might not be a problem for all readers but has always been a pet peeve of mine.

Overall The Wild Roses is a fast, exciting adventure that pits three remarkable and entertaining women at the forefront of what most would consider a male-dominated world. It was unconventional and thrilling and is sure to be enjoyed by anyone interested in a female Three Musketeer sort of story.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Robert J. Elisberg. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Of Fathers and Sons by Evan Ostryzniuk

[ 2 ] July 21, 2013

images (2)Please welcome Evan Ostryzniuk, author of Of Fathers and Sons, as he tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Reviewed by MaryLu McFall

This second historical novel in a series puts us squarely in Italy with Geoffrey, otherwise known as Hotspur. The young squire is growing up under the eye of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, a well-known powerful man in English history. Evan Ostryzniuk writes history with great depth, and the novel rings with authenticity. The period of history is full of derring-do and deeds of bravery. It is also full of treachery and bloodshed.

As in the first book, Geoffrey is of interest to readers who enjoy watching a character grow. In this second book, Geoffrey becomes involved in the machinations of those who would destroy the right of Niccolo to rule. The fact that he is only ten years old when his father suddenly dies is seen as an opportune time to form alliances to attack the boy.

The year is 1395 and this period of Italian history is one of great interest to many scholars. Italy is not a country of one mind; it is a country of city states each ruled by men of wealth and political power and influence. The period is not one of great familiarity to the average reader, even avid readers of historical fiction. Ostryzniuk is not only a writer but a scholar; however the novel is structured in such a way that a reader is captivated by Geoffrey and his ambitions. As with many young men of that and several centuries thereafter, the military route is one of the most successful.

While enemies of Niccolo plot their strategies, the heads of the city states of Florence, Venice and Bologna combine to see to it that the Este estates remain in the hands of the rightful heir. While Niccolo is/was illegitimate, the Pope sees to it that that is not as issue and Niccolo is legitimatized.

This novel reads slowly, but it is one that deserves to be read slowly. Details of history are combined in such a way as to pull you forward albeit reluctantly at first. Such detail is not a habit of American readers. And one very fine point is the fact that the book has smaller margins, the type running a good four inches across the pages. Once your eye becomes accustomed to taking in more than the usual line of text your brain adjusts to reading much more than the usual froth of too many historical novels.

I am looking forward to reading the third novel and going back to add the first to my list of reads. The fact that these books involve the Lancasters was a real bonus, as the family was the inspiration for my own novel, The Family Lancaster.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Reviewed by MaryLu McFall, who lives in Newnan, GA and is the author of an e-book A Little Karmic Murder and the forthcoming e-book, The Family Lancaster. She works part-time at an independent bookstore in Peachtree City and researches book values and lists the Omega Bookstore collectibles on ABEBOOKS.com.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Knox Robinson Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Tainted Angel by Anne Cleeland

[ 2 ] July 7, 2013

images (8)Reviewed by A.D. Cole

In the time of Napoleon’s exile on Elba, there is a growing sense of unease; a fear of a second war, should the emperor escape. It is during this tense phase that Anne Cleeland’s novel, Tainted Angel, takes place. Gold is going missing in both France and England. England’s economic stability rests in the hands of one man, who owns far too many government-issued bonds. And it is the task of the lovely spy, Vidia, to keep track of this man.

However, when she finds herself surprisingly (and not unpleasantly) seduced by her fellow spy, Lucien Carstairs, it becomes blatantly evident that her employer has begun to question her loyalty. She quickly ascertains that Carstairs’ primary motivation is the ferreting out of her every secret. What she’s unable to determine at the outset, however, is whether Carstairs also has true feelings for her. Unfortunately, she can’t adequately explore the depths of those feelings when, at any moment, he might be handing her over to the hangman.

What ensues is a complex plot full of twists and lies and romance. The beginning felt mired down in unanswered questions and it took what I considered to be too long getting going. I was probably a third of the way through the book when I finally felt I had a firm understanding of the characters and story line. In the end, though, it all made sense. Everything comes together nicely and you wind up with a very clear, vivid picture of what was going on. I would have preferred to know a few more things up front, though. Such as whether or not I could trust Vidia or Carstairs. With Vidia, I wasn’t certain, for a while, whether she was a heroine or an anti-heroine.

The characters were well developed. The author created rich and detailed histories for them all of which were given to us through brief, entertaining references and anecdotes. There weren’t any long, dull back stories.

Tainted Angel is a historical fiction. The author, in her dedication, refers to it as Regency Adventure. This is all well and good, but I would say the romance thread drove this novel just as much as the plot. So I’m not sure what tipped this into the general fiction category, unless it’s the lack of graphic description in the love scenes. Anyhow, if you absolutely don’t enjoy romance, you’ll likely not enjoy this book.

There was a lot I thoroughly enjoyed. I liked the duplicity in all the characters. The humor. The willingness on Vidia’s part to forgive being double-crossed, time and time again. The fact that she uses terms like double-cross, twigged (being found out), and grass (to tattle). Her willingness to follow her heart with her eyes open to reality. Her self-deprecation at her foolishness for following her heart in spite of reality. And the way everything comes together in the end.

I enjoyed this novel. The more it percolates in my mind, the more I’m pleased with it. But it was definitely slow going in the beginning. Fortunately, Vidia’s personality and her interest in Carstairs carry that part of the novel. So I think it’s worth a read, especially if you enjoy Regency era romance and adventure.

My favorite quote: “It is beyond vexing, she thought in annoyance as she slid between the silken sheets in her chemise–she couldn’t even have a warm night with a willing man without international repercussions.”

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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