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Tag: "adventure"

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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Review: 1356 by Bernard Cornwell

[ 0 ] June 11, 2013

628x471Reviewed by Marcus Hammond

The Hundred Years’ War was a complex series of conflicts that pitted England against France from 1337 to 1453. In the fourth book in Bernard Cornwell’s Grail Quest series titled 1356, Thomas of Hookton, an excommunicated mercenary is sent on a search for an ancient holy relic that could turn the tide of war. As a mercenary, Thomas is known as Le Batard for his ruthless skills as a combat leader and archer. Thomas, however, is a legend in his own right. Excommunicated for rescuing an alleged heretic (his wife) from the torture of a clergyman, Thomas fights for the honor of his men, family, and liege lord. During battle, Thomas and his Hellequin devastate the enemy ranks with skilled archers and vicious men-at-arms.

As the story opens, Thomas and his Hellequin are told by their liege lord to find and deliver an ancient holy relic into the hands of the English. The holy relic, La Malice, is St. Peter’s sword, and it is believed to bring certain victory to whoever holds it. The Church also seeks La Malice but to bring victory to the French side. As Thomas sets about his quest, he has no idea of the treachery that closely follows his every move.

Thomas is a likeable character that is easy to connect with throughout the story. His dark past, firm leadership, and his code of ethics make him stand out in stark comparison to the cruel and greedy French lords and clergymen that hunt him down. While Thomas is clearly a brutal fighter, he also shows a distinct humanity that borderlines on chivalry when protecting his family and friends.

Another aspect that makes this novel shine is Cornwell’s amazing job of blending a fictional world with the historical events surrounding the Hundred Years’ War. The climax of the novel occurs during the Battle of Poitiers, which is widely regarded as one of the more important conflicts in the Hundred Years’ War. Through careful research and vivid imagination, Cornwell skillfully recreates this centuries old battle in a bloody, gripping, and fast paced way.

Overall, 1356 is a worthwhile entry into the historical fiction genre. I had not read any of the previous three Grail Quest novels that all detail events in Thomas of Hookton’s life. While there were times that it was clear that aspects of Thomas’ background and personality had been previously developed in other novels, I never once felt like 1356 suffered due to that lack of developmental experience. I did finish the book, and instantly went back to the first novel to catch up.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

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

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Review: Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys

[ 4 ] June 7, 2013

Jack-Absolute-by-C.C.-Humphreys-e1367598941495Reviewed by A.D. Cole

Jack Absolute, by C.C. Humphreys, is historical fiction at its best. High stakes, high action, a dash of romance, all centered around Britain’s final end-run to suppress the American Revolution. We’ve got a dashing, clever, irresistibly charming champion. His classically educated Iroquois sidekick, named Até. The lovely, if occasionally mysterious, Loyalist American, Louisa. A vicious enemy in Count von Schlaben, who may or may not be a spy. With a cast of characters like this, how can you go wrong?

The story kicks off with a duel, in which we are introduced to Jack Absolute, who very much does not want to duel. His enemy is twenty years his junior and far more exuberant. But it’s his enemy’s second, Count von Schlaben, who catches Jack’s eye. This man will continue to be a thorn in Jack’s side. And because of this illegal duel, Jack finds himself being gently blackmailed by General Burgoyne into returning to the Army. Though it has been eleven years since he last served, and his life’s plans lay in the opposite direction, Jack finds a sense of relief and excitement at having this choice made for him.

Eleven years before, Jack lived among the Iroquois natives. He became one of them. It is his connections with the Iroquois, as well as his knack for counter-intelligence, that make him such a boon to General Burgoyne. But Jack’s faith in the General is misplaced as it slowly becomes evident that the General’s camp has been infiltrated by spies. Throughout the ensuing conflicts, Jack evades death more times than he can count, and sacrifices more than he ever wanted.

C.C. Humphreys lifted the character of Jack Absolute from Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play, The Rivals, first performed in 1775; you can read about this in the author’s note at the end. In Humphreys’ book, the action takes place twenty years after the events in The Rivals. Jack is no longer a brash young man; instead, now, he is a brash, older man, pushing forty and looking to salvage his family estate, which is in ruins. Richard Brinsley Sheridan is made a character in Humphreys’ novel so that we witness Jack watching himself being portrayed on the stage. An interesting way to handle the situation. Though I would have been perfectly happy had the author not acknowledged the original play at all.

If you haven’t seen or read The Rivals, I absolutely assure you that it isn’t necessary in order to enjoy this book (although I recommend it because it’s a funny play). All that’s required here is a love of adventure and an appreciation for historical backdrops. Although this isn’t a naval adventure, I’d compare it to the novels of Patrick O’Brian or C.S. Forester. I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series. What a fun read!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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 Source Books PR. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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