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Hannibal’s Elephant Girl

Hannibal's Elephant Girl: Tin Tin Ban Sunia by [Brindley, Charley]

Charley Brindley’s Hannibal’s Elephant Girl takes place in 229 BCE in North Africa. We’re treated to a thoughtful account of life in a river camp near Carthage. The delivery of the story is exceptional as the reader can effortlessly follow the various story lines in the book. There are more than one major character but the main focus is on a girl called Liada. We accompany this 12-year-old girl as she goes about her business and the adventures in the camp. The narration is simple but still managed to keep my attention. Different literary and stylistic devices are used to spice up the plot and every character is developed uniquely. The reader falls in love with some characters and loathes some due to how the author represents them. This connection brought me the most joy because the characters I was rooting for almost always won.

Liada gets rescued from a river by an elephant named Obolus. The savior elephant is among the many that are being trained for war at the camp. There is a war looming and every party needs to prepare for any situation. Despite getting rescued, Liada’s life is not all smooth as her memory seems to have faded. Liada is assigned some tasks, among them feeding soldiers in the camp. Yzebel, the woman who took Liada runs a cafeteria where soldiers go to eat.  Yzebel is patient and understanding. She is one of the characters the I greatly enjoyed from the beginning. Yzebel, however, has a disgraceful son, but despite this, Liada continues to be the hardworking girl who keeps it together.

I appreciated  Liada’s character as she is accountable for anything she does and treats everyone with courtesy. Liada’s daily tasks make her interact with different people in the camp. I appreciate how the author describes events in the book. Everything is detailed. The camp, soldiers, city of Carthage and the activities the characters engage in are well illustrated and one can easily visualize the happenings. Hannibal is one of the members Liada interacts with. Hannibal is in charge of the elephant army. Tin Tin Ban Sunia is another character that Liada befriended. Liada and Tin Tin Ban Sunia became friends despite the latter being mute.

The kind Liada and Yzebel, however, plan to save the poor girl from slavery. This was a bold but risky move as the two put themselves in danger. Their arrangement also revealed another side of the characters that I got to love. Charley Brindley makes a simple story more exciting with twists in the plot. The suspense and action the characters take make the reading thrilling. Hannibal’s Elephant Girl is engaging, with a balance of detail that allows your imagination to run. The characters are well developed and addictive to follow. This is a fantastic book with plenty of lessons for young readers.

Pages: 425 | ASIN: B07P9WJFWP

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Dvorah: Prophetess, Judge, Warrior

Dvorah: Prophetess, Judge, Warrior: The Simple Girl Who Grew Up to Lead Israel (Fierce Bible Women Book 1) by [Lalli, M.J.]

Dvorah is the only child of Eleazar and Ajalon, and as such she is trained in many different skills to help her parents. Her childhood in Israel is simple, but happy, surrounded by family and friends. One day, late in her teens, her entire life changes when she receives a message from God telling her to sit in judgement of the disagreements between others. She does this to great acclaim for three years before being given an even bigger task- to lead an army of thousands in war, alongside her cousin, Barak. The battle will change their lives and shape their future together.

In Dvorah: Prophetess, Judge, Warrior, M.J. Lalli tells of Dvorah’s life and lessons on her way to becoming the jewel of Israel. The book begins slowly, detailing Dvorah’s daily life with her playmates, time in training inside the wool tent, and time spent learning to make perfect bricks. Through it all, Dvorah’s persistence, precision, and level headedness are consistently referenced as some of her most remarkable traits. In the meantime, Lalli paints a vivid picture of Biblical-era Israel and infuses the text with many stories from the Bible, but never seems overtly religious. Many of the stories are told in the context of Dvorah’s challenges and belief. Other characters don’t feature very prominently, with many of them coming in and out of the narrative just a time or two, and some others appearing only once. Dvorah and her horse Zenja are the most constant players in the tale.

Faith, and remaining true to how you have been taught, stand as the primary themes of the book. Throughout the course of the novel, Dvorah never strays from the faith and religion she was raised on, and in due course is rewarded for her diligence. As a contrast, her childhood friend Simona is used to illustrate the dangers of straying from the path of their religion, suffering all manner of tragedies along with her sins.

Dvorah herself is a well written and well-rounded character that succeeds at her tasks, but never in a way that feels convenient or out of place within the narrative. She works hard for what she achieves. The book is also well written in that it has a religious foundation but doesn’t once feel preachy in the way it’s presented. However, the slow start makes it difficult to get into the story, and the parables, while relevant, are often long winded. The second half of the book does pick up the pace dramatically as Dvorah fulfills the second of her heavenly callings. Dvorah: Prophetess, Judge, Warrior is a thought provoking novel that many will enjoy reading.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B07VG5J8H7

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The Progeny

The Progeny: A Novel (Descendants of the House of Bathory Book 1) by [Lee, Tosca]

Are we defined by the ones who were before us, or do our actions define us? Do the actions of one individual condemn their future descendants to a dire future?

The Progeny is a thrilling adventure story, echoing the suspense of Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series. The beginning of the story is a little slow but the story picks up and is quickly entertaining. Things keep on rolling as our lead character, Audra and her small group of people find themselves in situations that quickly turn sour. Despite the frailty shown, the characters rise up to the challenges that face them, which made me emotionally invested in the well drawn characters. I frowned when I read about the zealots who were hunting descendants of the most infamous female serial killer in history. Why? They are not the killers. Why harm them? But then people do tend to carry grouses for years, maybe some are crazy to carry ones that pass on from generation to generation. These thought provoking themes kept me hooked. I especially loved Luka character, who loves Audra without any motives or benefits. The author describes the revelation in layers which is all the more warming to my heart.

There are many more layers to the story than initially appears. It shows the depth with which Tosca Lee has crafted her narrative. Overall the story is well written and continues at a good pace.  We get a glimpse into the past of the characters, but thankfully the story does not dedicate too much time on it. The one thing that I did find odd was the persuasion power that every descendant of Elizabeth Bathory (mainly females) seems to have. Why it appears, or what is the reason for it is not explained. Even more curious is that it goes away after a certain age. Why? I need to know! Needless to say, I am invested in this enthralling and thoroughly entertaining novel.

Pages: 337 | ASIN: B010MH9YUW

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Donal Grant – Trailer

The twelve novels MacDonald set in his homeland make frequent use of Scots dialogue, which has posed a problem for many would-be readers. This new edition of DONAL GRANT, the sequel to SIR GIBBIE, and book four in the translation series, provides the complete original text, but places English side-by-side with the Scots. Also featured is an introduction by renowned MacDonald authority and best-selling author Michael Phillips, along with more of the distinguished artwork of SIR GIBBIE’s illustrator Carrie Stout.

In his preface, translator David Jack praises DONAL GRANT as “a story-sermon par excellence” in which MacDonald blends his powerful mythmaking with his no less powerful preaching: the result being “a kind of fairy-tale for grown-ups.” Donal himself he compares to the author, claiming that both bring us (as Donal brings the proud but unhappy heiress Lady Arctura) “news from a far country, for the lack of which she had been slowly perishing.”

Unique features of this edition of Donal Grant:
***English translations of all Scots dialogue side-by-side with the original text
***Ten original illustrations by artist Carrie Stout
***Introduction by best-selling author Michael Phillips

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Beloved Mother

Beloved Mother by [Hunter, Laura]

Laura Hunter’s Beloved Mother is set in Appalachia in the 20th century. Laura Hunter’s style of writing is what enables you to mentally experience life in the 1900’s. We follow a story that involves family drama, unfriendly environments, womanhood and the benefits of togetherness. I had a great time reading about different cultures and how communities co-exist. The diversity in the author’s writing is commendable.

The events happen in an Appalachian coal mining area where we are introduced to the lives of three women; two siblings and one daughter. Mona Parsons was taken away by Jackson Slocomb when he was 13. The man from Pennsylvania abused her and even sexually assaulted her. The result of the defilement was a pregnancy. It happened that another man, Tall Corn, rescued her from the hands of abusive Jackson Slocomb. Tall Corn was a Cherokee farmer who renamed Mona and took care of her child after it was born. Meanwhile, Anna Parsons gets involved with a mining supervisor and gets pregnant as well.

The events in the book happen over the span of a couple of years. Laura Hunter’s sometimes grim nature of writing is fascinating and consistently engaging as she captures the shifting moods of families as they encounter tragedies like death, misunderstandings, and intense drama. We get to see how curses and fate influence people and how they use unorthodox means to survive. The incorporation of the Cherokee mythology was excellently portrayed and something I found myself relishing. The three main women in the book are distinct but maintain a tight circle as they struggle to live through tough realities that society presents them.

This is a story about three women of different generations trying to carve their paths while remaining sane despite the ugly side of life. The strength we see in the women is vividly portrayed through harrowing tribulations that kept me rapt. One gets the impression of living like Native Americans for a moment. The author’s eloquent descriptions of Appalachia allowed me to easily imagine the environment. The plot builds gradually, leaving me at first to wonder if things would ever pickup, but the story certainly does, I just wish it happened sooner. I enjoyed this novel because it cast culture and traditions, womanhood in an new and interesting light. Although slow to start, Beloved Mother delivers a unique experience that is rarely found in other novels.

Pages: 366 | ASIN: B07N17LSHD

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Save Him

Save Him by [Hayes, William M.]

Save Him by William M. Hayes is a time travel story about a scientist named Rydel Scott who works at the Genesis Lab in upstate New York creating new technology for the military. After he stumbles across a way to travel back in time, his terminally ill sister convinces him that he must use this discovery to prevent Jesus’s death on the cross. The Unit, an elite military group led by Ray Catlin, is sent to stop him before it’s too late and bring him back. But once on the mission, the Unit becomes divided. Will Rydel succeed in changing the past and saving Jesus Christ? And if he does, will the people in the present survive the repercussions?

I enjoyed reading this book. The story line was intriguing, and it was a unique take on a time travel action adventure story. I liked the descriptions of Jerusalem during the life of Jesus. It gave me a good sense of what it might have been like to live during that time period.

The technology described in the book was interesting. The story started out a bit slow, taking place in the Genesis Lab with a show and tell of the new tech rather than with action as the Unit is sent out on their mission. However, this did give me a chance to get to know the various members of the Unit, who might have been hard to keep straight otherwise, since there were so many of them.

The group became divided about the mission once they arrived in the past, which was something that didn’t sit well with me, since the Christian believers’ position did not seem logical. One of the foundations of Christianity is that Jesus died for our sins so that our souls would be saved, yet the Christian characters don’t act as though that sacrifice was necessary when it should have been a fundamental belief. I thought it was odd for them to think that saving Jesus would have no effect on the present when Christianity as they know it would cease to exist if Jesus did not die on the cross.

This was an intriguing book with an interesting plot, but I felt the book lacked a conclusive ending. If you enjoy science fiction stories with futuristic, yet believable, technology in a historic setting then this book is definitely for you.

Pages: 345 | ASIN: B07WQMP41B

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Amulet’s Rapture

Amulet's Rapture (Curse of Clansmen and Kings Book 3) by [Tanner, Linnea]

Amulet’s Rapture turned out to be one of the top 3 books I have read in the last six months! And I read, a lot !

The author Linea Tanner, begins the story of a pre–Dark age Roman period, at the time when Roman power was the paramount power in the known Western world. We find our main character Catrin, a princess of Britannia, a fierce warrior and a druidess ending up being a slave to a Roman. She had never imagined her state even in her dreams but after her father, King Amren lost to Romans and her step-brother Marrock became the client king of the Cantiaci kingdom, this was her harsh reality. She was taken a slave by the Roman tribune Decimus and named her Vibius a boy, ensuring that everyone would believe her to be a boy. We also come to know that his step-brother murdered both her mother and father, meaning that her identity as a princess was wiped out, forgotten by all except for a few.

We see her at first as a damsel, waiting upon her prince, her beloved Apollo, to come to her rescue and take her away from all her troubles. We see then her metamorphosis into a warrior, as layer after layer of her sorrow and sadness transformed her into a warrior. We see that her master, Decimus has an ulterior purpose, and though he shamed her, was disdainful and treated her with utter contempt, he kept her safe.

We also get to know of Marcellus, and are stunned to know that he is the husband of Catrina, the background story and the situation they find themselves in. Will they be united or won’t is the question.

What was most striking was the incredible layers the author has crafted in the story that it gels smoothly. So many times, I have seen good beginnings spoiled because the author let the story stagnate or introduce plots that have no meaning or place in the story, which really irritates me. I am thankful that the author has kept a tight ship. Secondly, I like the brutality and the savagery which actually existed in Roman times and their conflicts with tribes of Britannia, Gaul and other places were gory and ugly. That the author manages to weave them seamlessly without sacrificing the main plot elements which makes this a well rounded story. A very enjoyable read and I will look forward to more.

Pages: 359 | ASIN: B07Y8SS2B2

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Norse Mythology

Glenn Searfoss Author Interview

Glenn Searfoss Author Interview

Cycles of Norse Mythology does a fantastic job of reinvigorating old mythology and breathing new life into their stories. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

I grew up knowing of Odin, Loki, and Thor long before reading comic books. But when I decided to learn more about the Norse gods and goddesses, I became dissatisfied. All the summary sources (e.g. Bullfinches’ Mythology) were about a handful of male gods; they provided little if any information about the goddesses and the animals that populated the world of Norse Mythology. Talking with other people, I found the same limited information.

So, I began researching the topic, more for my own understanding than anything else. Sharing what I knew with others inevitably resulted in requests for more background and tales from earlier in the mythology. So, I had to do more research and to write more stories. Ultimately, this work expanded to encompass the entire breadth of Norse Mythology.

I thought the research was deep delivered easily. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?

Cycles of Norse Mythology is the culmination of 16 years intensive study of Norse myths that involved consuming research literature, multiple translations of works (from 900 – 1400 AD), and story compilations published since the late 1700’s to the present.

I hunted public and university libraries for references. I sought out period references, such as Tacitus’ The Agricola and the Germainia and Ibn Fadlan’s Journey to Russia. I searched new, used, and rare bookstores for any reference. I dug into cited references and searched for those. I still encounter new references (i.e. works from 875 to 1400s), and I hope there are translations.

Always seeking something cleaner, with less bias, I found the following website provided me with an international access to reference source materials: http://www.archive.org/index.php

The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, they provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the public.

Was there anything that surprised you during your research regarding Norse mythology?

I had several great surprises in store:

  1. There was more depth and more humanity in the traditional characters of the Norse Gods than the superficial figures found in many pieces of modern literature and in film. For example, a modern viewpoint has Thor’s hammer as a symbol of storm and war. Whereas, in the traditional myths his hammer was actually a symbol of consecration and protection.
  2. The foundation of our knowledge on Norse Myth is based on fragments of what once was a full oral tradition. And the accuracy of those fragments is subject to question.
  3. The primary source of our knowledge regarding Norse Myth are the Codex Regius (1270s) and the Codex Wormianus (mid-1400s), of which editions of the Poetic Edda (~985 -1000AD) and the Prose Edda (~1220 AD) are a part. These were written down in Iceland, which wholesale converted to Christianity in 900AD to avoid the bloody religious conversions that had wracked Norway and Sweden. Since the writings were filtered through the lens of several generations raised under Christianity, and it appears only those tales and the portions of those tales which did not conflict too much with Church doctrine were kept, they are likely subject to differences in tone, focus, character presentation, and bias that are different than the traditional unfiltered belief.

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

I’m currently finishing up a fiction novel that pays homage to three great Victorian characters of literary fiction: Sherlock Holmes, Dr. James Watson, and M_______―the time traveler of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. It is set firmly in the Victorian era, with all the social attitudes and prejudices of that time. I am hoping it will be out next spring.

A new work under development involves the Sigurd Myth, but it is too early to provide a timeframe.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

These stories are old, old as the Behmer Wold and seldom in life has there been such a brewing…

Cycles of Norse Mythology captures the passion, cruelty, and heroism of an ancient world. Encompassing Odin’s relentless pursuit of wisdom across the nine worlds, Gullveig’s malicious death at the hands of the Æsir that sparks a brutal war with the Vanir, Thor’s battles against the giants of Jotunheim, the tragedy of Volund, the many devious machinations of Loki, and the inescapable events of Ragnarök, this lyrical re-imagining of the Norse myths presents the gripping adventures of the Norse gods and their foes in a style to delight modern readers of all ages.

A detailed glossary provides a quick reference to the meaning behind names and terms used in the book.

A Source Reference is included for persons who want to delve deeper into the study of Norse mythology.

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Quintrell’s White

Quintrell's White (Quintrell series Book 4) by [Hawkswood, Clive]

Quintrell’s White is based on historical events that affect global politics. In this book, Clive Hawkswood creates a plot that is both fascinating and engaging. The year is 1916 and the world is threatened by the first world war. The political climate is hot with opposing camps flexing their muscles. Every country wants to appear superior and some parties are causing political unrest. America is going through difficult times. The political landscape is hostile as there are elements that are causing political instability and Russia is not safe politically either. Certain individuals and groups are plotting events that will cause massive damage to the entire world.

Amidst this confusion is a character known as Kurt Draxweiller who is the leader of the cult, Ultima Thule Verband, that operates in a similar manner as the Nazis. Kurt Draxweiller is a danger to the world. His followers are a threat that needs to be dealt with otherwise world peace will be at stake. Infiltrating Ultima Thule Verband is not going to be easy and the story does a fantastic job of blending both mystery and suspense around this cult. Kurt is an enabler of the Keizer’s Germany, something pro-peace parties do not appreciate. Kurt Draxweiller has to be stopped using whatever means possible and this overriding need throughout the book kept me turning pages. Tsar’s most reliable assassin, the Dragon and captain John Quintrell can stop him. The men are both powerful and prudent in how they move and I appreciated the slow and deliberate buildup of both characters.

Quintrell’s White is a thrilling story that constantly kept me on edge as I was never sure where the story was going next. The journey to get Kurt was thrilling to follow. Reading about the fights with U boats and encountering Mexican rebels was fascinating and showed sides of the war that I never considered. Plot twists I rarely saw coming kept things consistently interesting. You will love this book if you are an enthusiast of political stories that touch on historical events. The adventure, suspense and smooth flow of the story are some of my favorite elements in the book.

Clive Hawksood knows when and how to grab the reader’s attention in his narration. His use of suspense in the book keeps you guessing as you read on. The author’s sense of humor is worth mentioning too. Witty and funny lines pepper the story. Clive Hawkwood has created intriguing characters who excellently executed their respective roles. I recommend Quintrell’s White to readers who enjoy a good political and historical thriller that has a quality story line.

Pages: 407 | ASIN: B07XJR5NHM

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Cycles of Norse Mythology

Cycles of Norse Mythology by [Searfoss, Glenn]

There are many stories about the Norse realm. Only a few are common and easily accessible. Glenn Searfoss gives readers access to more than just the common ones. The reader gets more dimensions with regards to the characters in the fictional universe. This book is a rewrite of the stories on Norse mythology with a fresh voice and packed with exciting tid bits. The book offers a revamped look at all the suffering, victories and battles of the characters in Norse mythology accompanied by a glossary for a better reading experience.

This may be a rewritten version but it sure does not feel like one. The author has such a talent with words and phrases. The stories read like a symphony. With a captivating melody that makes the reader inch closer with every sentence they consume. It leaves the reader feeling like they are floating through a universe with endless possibilities with all their favorite heroes and characters. The author packs all the action and adventure possible into this book with ease.

One thing that the reader will note from the very beginning is the depth of research that has gone into this book. It is uncanny how one person can have such a mastery of the Norse universe, characters and everything in between. It is a sign of obvious passion and curiosity about the subject matter. The author’s understanding is the basis for their unique and original voice. This is actually quite infectious. For a person who is not a fan of mythologies, these stories will sure make them into definite enthusiasts.

If you have encountered characters like Thor and Odin, this book will make you fall even deeper in love with these characters and many more just like them. The author has carefully sculpted each character to have a unique element while also maintaining their original and beloved qualities. To take characters that have already been established and to give them a fresh coat of personality but still managing to keep their usual façade takes pure brilliance.

The voice of the author that comes through their retelling is provocative and fulfilling. The stories themselves are evocative and exciting. The imagery is borne of sheer talent and brave application of language. Any lover of mythology, regardless of age, and related fictional works will surely enjoy Cycles of Norse Mythology.

Pages: 838 | ASIN: B07QKL9CRK

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