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Amulet’s Rapture

Amulet's Rapture: Curse of Clansmen and Kings, Book 3

Catrin is living a nightmare. She has become a slave, is used and abused as a woman disguised as a soldier, and the love of her life doesn’t remember the passion that once existed between them. Catrin is as feared as much as she is taken for granted. Considered to have powers that far outshine the abilities and skills of any soldier, she is allowed to live and protected even though she isn’t respected. Marcellus, her love, now under the spell of another, can’t quite shake the feeling that something is not right–something he can’t explain but leaves him feeling empty and broken. Catrin knows, but will she be able to tell him in time?

Amulet’s Rapture, by Linnea Turner, continues the journey of young Catrin. Her life, very different from that of previous installments, is a daily struggle for survival. She is only allowed to live because she is deemed valuable and believed to have the ability to speak directly with the sun god. Catrin is put through ghastly tasks and treated with little respect even though she is offered the opportunity to train as a warrior priestess. Playing along with the idea that she is all-powerful is the only thing that seems to keep her from being killed.

Catrin’s visions are an important part of the plot–the thread woven discreetly throughout the story that ties all of the elements neatly together. The images she conjures are vivid and touching. The author uses them expertly to pull in elements from previous installments. These little trips into Catrin’s past are especially helpful if listening to this as a stand alone.

The audio version of Amulet’s Rapture is a fascinating listen. The narrator absolutely nails tone, character changes, and emphasis. In addition, the particularly intense scenes in which Catrin is being threatened are completely captivating when read by the narrator, Kristen James. What would be moving moments if read in paperback or Kindle become quite terrifying and extremely uncomfortable when listening to the narrator’s interpretation of the text–the story is truly brought to life.

I believe this installment is completely readable as a stand alone text. The author provides quite a bit of background, and Catrin’s visions give readers a nice glance back at previous plots. One cannot read Tanner’s work without calling it romance. Though it is primarily a fantasy, readers who seek a strong romantic feel to their fantasies will appreciate Tanner’s writing. She peppers her plot with just enough of these steamy scenes to keep romance fans invested.

Audio Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes | ASIN: B0887Y9WLY

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Spenser: On The River of Time

Carl Hare brings fresh purpose to epic poetry in the book Spenser (On the River of Time). Just like book 1, the author is exceptional with narration, description of events, and the direction the characters are taking. Everything from the arrangement of the cantos, the breaking down of the story, the construction of sentences, and the simplicity of lines is ideal. Carl Hare makes the reading experience fun and even more enjoyable for readers that are new to this genre. The length of the cantos is inviting for readers that appreciate short verses. The introduction of characters and how the narrative unfolds encourage one to read more.

In this book, the main story is focused on the life of poet Edmund Spenser. The poet worked for Queen Elizabeth I of England. The book touches on different aspects of Spenser’s life, his convictions, the journeys he took, and the many challenges he had to face. Through this man, we also see how service to authority and how respecting the powers that be affect one’s life. One notable element in this book is the use of a real historical figure in a work of fiction. The author blends every part of the book to elevate a real character in a fictitious work and in doing so creates an engaging story that is hard to put down.

The characters are emotive and easy to empathize with. Each Canto has a unique feeling. The author’s words are clear and I was able to understands the content in the lines without having to repeat the reading, a struggle for me with other works, but Carl Hare’s story is easy to approach. Spenser (On the River of Time) is everything historical fiction fans could want in an adventure story from a gilded age. I enjoyed the style of narration, and loved the edifying effect the book has on literature enthusiasts.

Pages: 435 | ASIN: B0852QN65G

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The Boy Who Saw In Colours

The Boy Who Saw In Colours by [Lauren Robinson]

The Boy Who Saw In Colours by Lauren Robinson is a story about a young boy who is coming of age during the time of WWII. There are many stories out there about WWII, but the perspective from a child who turns 13 on the day of the London Blitz introduces a new viewpoint to the devastating war. Josef and his younger brother, Tomas, are the sons of a mother, who is from a well-to-do German family, and a father who is Jewish. Their love story is doomed from the beginning and leads both boys down a heartbreaking path. After being stolen from their parents Josef tells the story of how he and his brother are sent to an elite German Youth school to be groomed into the next brainwashed generation of the Aryan Super Race.

Even though this is a book of fiction, it is based on real historical events. After Josef and Tomas are taken from their parents, they are thrown into the military-like German school where they are literally beaten into following Hitler. But as Josef is of part Jewish descent, he is always picked on and called ‘mischling’, a foul name for someone who comes from mixed blood.

Josef has a gift that gets him through this unthinkable experience though, he is a painter. Not just someone who makes a pretty picture on a canvas, but a creative who sees his entire world in different colors.

I love how Robinson writes; it’s like I am sitting in a room with Josef at an old age and he is telling me about his life as a child while the fire burns and we drink tea. Her style is lyrical in nature and you can tell that each word she writes is put there with great thought and on purpose.

This book was at times very difficult to read because of the way the children were treated to ensure their submissiveness to the Fuhrer, it was nauseating. At the same time, their story needs to be told, we need to learn from our horrible mistakes of the past and this book tells it like a sad love song, heart-breaking, but beautiful.

There are relationships however that do emerge that give glimmers of hope and love and let you have a softer heart for some Germans who knew they had to follow along or be killed. I highly recommend reading this book. I look forward to more books by Robinson and her unique style in the future.

Pages: 371 |ASIN: B088BBXLL7

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Universal Human Elements

Miles Watson Author Interview

Miles Watson Author Interview

Sinner’s Cross is a gritty look at WWII and the toll it took on a group of soldiers. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

When I was much younger, I read a book by Charles Whiting called The Battle of the Huertgen Forest. It read just like a novel, and provided a horrifying, unrelenting look at this massive battle which killed 26,000 men, which somehow I had never heard of. I gradually began to understand that the reason the Huertgen Forest Campaign was unknown to the American public was because it neither began nor ended well, and saw many lives lost for very little return. It seemed tragic to me that only men who died in “glorious” battles are remembered or honored the way they ought to be. I wanted to tell their story, but in a way that concentrated on the universal human elements.

Each of your characters were well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

All of them had their pleasures and their pains. The emotional arcs of Breese and Zenger were rather tough for me to write because they were suffering so much — Breese from fear, Zenger from doubt. Halleck was fun because he is so tough, but also so taciturn that all of his emotions are beneath the surface. Sinner’s Cross is a WW2 story, but Halleck is a classic Old West cowboy at heart. Anyone who says writing cowboys ain’t fun is lying to you.

I enjoyed how historically accurate this book is. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the books authenticity?

I’m a history buff, have a degree in history, and possess an immense library of books on WW2, including a collection of material printed during the war by both America and Germany. Whenever I needed information, that was where I started.

However, I am of the opinion that if you want to read a genuine account of a battle, that’s what history books are for. Novels are there to put you inside the experience, and the best way to make situations real is to nail the small details — what type of tobacco the Germans smoked, what type of music the Americans listened to, what happens when a hundred pounds of high explosives hits a tree at supersonic speed. I am very proud to say that I’ve had veterans of the Army and Marines both, guys who fought in wars from Vietnam to Iraq, congratulate me on getting the atmosphere right.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I like to write in every genre, and right now I’m trying to finish an epic horror novel I’ve been toiling on for 2 1/2 years. I have several months of work ahead of me just to finish the first draft, so it’s anyone’s guess when it will see the light of day. However, the sequel to Sinner’s Cross is in the final drafting process as I write this, and I intend to release it in October of this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Sinner's Cross: A Novel of the Second World War by [Miles Watson]In 1944, Sinner’s Cross was just a point on a map: a muddy track through shell-torn German woods. Worthless…except to the brass on both sides of the war, who are willing to sacrifice their best men to have it. Men like Halleck, a tough-as-nails Texan who traded driving cattle for driving soldiers; Breese, a phenomenal actor who can play any part but hero; and Zenger, the Nazi paratrooper who discovers Hitler’s Germany is a lousy place to grow a conscience. Their lives and deaths will intersect at the place called Sinner’s Cross.

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Amelia’s Gold

Even in the midst of the Civil War, the Beaches stood as one of the richest and preeminent families in Savannah. As the oldest daughter, Amelia enjoyed all the luxury this provided, without being haughty about it. When her father entrusts her with the chance to save the family’s fortune, Amelia is thrilled at the prospect of serving her family. Her trip to the Bahamas opens her eyes to a world of new experiences, full of adventure, deceit, and a taste of freedom. As the fate of the Confederacy begins to decline, so does Amelia’s, eventually leading her to a life she would never have imagined.

Amelia’s Gold, by James Snyder follows Amelia Beach over the course of a year as she navigates the road paved by her father. The Civil War, the exotic allure of island life, and recovered pirate gold all combine to create an environment that completely unends Amelia’s world and what she always assumed would be her place in it. Nassau itself is a far cry from her home in Savannah in almost every way imaginable, but she navigates it, and its inhabitants, extremely well. Snyder does well to create an accurate snapshot of the world at that time with his meticulous research while still writing in a way that is both interesting and engaging. Although the pacing isn’t always solid, with some passages that just don’t do much to advance the story, it nonetheless never seems stuffy or tedious. Amelia, as well as every one of the supporting characters that filter in and out of her life, are all well written and compliment each other as necessary throughout the course of events.

Over the course of the book, Amelia deals time and time again with the theme of personal growth, both as an idea and an experience. The events play out over the course of only one year, and yet she faces an incredible amount of hardships, each one providing an opportunity to become a better and stronger person. She also achieves the balance of treating others with empathy and kindness without being played for a fool. Overall, Amelia is written as smart, capable, and still distinctly human. She almost serves as an anomaly of how women are typically considered during that time period, instead representing how many of them likely were. 

Amelia’s Gold kept me invested, always curious about what would come next. The character of Felix was especially interesting to me and I wish there were more of him. Snyder carved a path for Amelia that proved to be unpredictable all the way to the very end, and left enough mystery for a reader to ultimately create their own ideas about the rest of her life.

Pages: 376 | ASIN: B086HWJ1XR

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Sinner’s Cross

Sinner's Cross: A Novel of the Second World War by [Miles Watson]

Sinners Cross, by Miles Watson, is a deeply captivating historical fiction novel of the Second World War. This is an action packed story detailing the horrors of war and the people that must endure them.

This is not a watered down version of war, the battles are chaotic and gritty. I appreciated Mile Watson’s ability to place me in the field with the soldiers. The story focuses on a collection of well developed characters, each with their own issues not completely unique but well drawn and expertly unraveled before the reader. Having such well defined characters made me appreciate the terrible way in which war changes people.

The book is set in Germany during the Second World War and told from the point of view of soldier on the ground. We get to know what they fear, their motivation, how it feels to take the impact of a sniper bullet to the head only for it to be stopped by a M1 Helmet. How one would survive the cold in a fox hole knowing the chance of living to see the following day comes down to an unhealthy probability. To how your ears ring when you are accidentally within the range of an explosion. Sinner’s Cross is full of these types of details only soldiers can tell you.

The book begins with two characters, Duffy and Halleck, who have been fighting Germans for a while now. Each lost in their own thoughts, they engage in a sporadic and thinly worded conversation. Whenever Halleck’s drifts back to his thoughts, they give the reader a glimpse into the hopelessness of their predicament when he refers to their reinforcement as mere replacements. As a veteran I can appreciate the clarity with which the author paints the picture of war and how a soldiers mind might race.

This book was exceptional in it’s ability to make me question, not necessarily the motives of war, but the motives of those in charge of the battles in war. How human ineptness is either waned or magnified under such monstrously strenuous conditions.

I’m surprised Sinner’s Cross is a historical fiction novel. It’s full of historical details and military jargon that, I felt, were spot on, if not believable. This is an exceptional novel that is consistently entertaining, although dark it fits with the tone of what is a dark time in history. Any armchair historian will love this book.

Pages: 284 | ASIN:  B07YS4T3TB

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Swordpoint

Swordpoint by [Crane, David]

Swordpoint is an engaging story full of trials and tribulations for the protagonist, Eugene Francois Vidocq. Anyone interested in historical fiction focused on 18th century France would get a lot of satisfaction from reading this novel.

The main character is the son of a bread maker who grew up a troublemaker in a small town in France. After falling in love, sailing halfway around the world to find his fortune, and returning with little more than experience gained, Vidocq must forge a new way forward. Unfortunately for him, his past deeds seem to follow him everywhere he goes, and now he must go to great lengths to re-create a future worthy of his dreams. Achieving those dreams turns out to be quite a challenge as he is put up against many adversaries. Vidocq’s adventures take him in and out of many riveting circumstances but he is smart, skilled, and dedicated to his cause.

The story takes place among many important points of France’s history, and each part of that history is very carefully crafted. The characters and setting are believable and full of depth making it easy to sink into Vidocq’s world. The meticulous descriptive power of the author helps bring the story to life. Being a well-researched historical fiction novel details such as the guillotines spread throughout France to administer revolutionary justice, the social classes, changing political landscape, and much more, are created genuinely enough to give the reader a perfect atmospheric feeling.

18th century France provides the perfect setting for excitement. There is ample opportunity for Vidocq to engage in exciting confrontations everywhere he goes. Whether it is chasing criminals, trying to escape the jaws of death, slipping in and out of favor with the powers that be, or showcasing his ability as a capable fighter, Vidocq will certainly keep you entertained.

Swordpoint takes on a life of its own. This historical fiction novel deserves high praise for its writing quality, character development, and top rate storytelling. The story is very well written and does a fantastic job at captivating your imagination.

Pages: 335 | ASIN: B00B6FCLGO

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Beloved Mother

Beloved Mother

Beloved Mother by Laura Hunter is a saga that follows the lives of several members of the Parsons, a poor coal-mining family. The story begins in Covington, Virginia in 1923 when thirteen-year-old Mona Parsons is taken away to Carolina by Jackson Slocomb. He abuses her, and she’s rescued by a Native American man named Walks in Tall Corn. He takes her in and raises her son, Briar, as his own. Ten years later, Tall Corn is injured in a farming accident and his wound becomes infected. He dies and Mona (River of Two Tears) returns to Covington, but her father doesn’t welcome her. She and her son end up in a coal mining town, Breakline Mining Camp. Mona’s younger sister, Anna, runs away with Clint, and they end up in in the coal mining town, too. But although Two Tears and Anna interact and live in close proximity to each other for many years, they never realized that the other is their sister. Told from a number of different points of view, this book spans generations and decades, even going back in time to earlier generations.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, and her vivid descriptions drew me into the story. I liked the bits of history that the author added throughout the book. The story touched on a number of different time periods, from the great depression and World War II to the mid 1800’s.

I enjoyed the Native American aspect of the book–the Great Spirit, Sister Sun and Brother Moon, and the Cherokee medicine woman (called a Beloved Mother). It added an interesting element to the story that I would have loved to read more of. The characters lives were hard, as they struggled to scrape by, but I felt that most were selfish, thinking of their own wants and needs, in desires to get ahead. There is a lot of colorful, and questionable relationships, from adulterous affairs to a twenty-six-year-old man married to a thirteen-year-old girl, and an older man with romantic feelings for his young half-sister–though he was unaware of their connection. This made it hard for me to relate to, although I certainly appreciated, the characters.

Overall, this is an emotional story that pulls at your heart. I would have enjoyed a more uplifting theme, if not a few moments. There were a number of deaths, and very few characters were still alive by the end of the story, but I suppose… such is life.

ISBN: 9781949711097

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