Friday, May 22, 2020

May Book Reviews

For May, I have three reviews and a preview of a book now scheduled for release on August 11 (NOTE: Release of this book has been pushed back at least once due to concerns about COVID-19 and might be delayed again).

  • Historical fiction (The Man With Two Names);
  • A crime thriller/romance (Death Notice);
  • A young adult fantasy (The Sapphire Eruption); and 
  • A crime thriller (A Private Cathedral, to be released Aug. 11).

Happy reading,

The Man With Two Names: A Novel of Ancient Rome (The Sertorius Scrolls Series Book 1) by Vincent B. Davis II 

Sertorius Faces Enemies from the Roman Forum to the Wilderness of Gaul

With themes that resonant today (“The idea of an innocent statesman is more myth than the Minotaur”) and a history of ancient Rome that comes to life, it’s easy to find much to like in The Man With Two Names. The protagonist of this historical fiction, Quintus Sertorius, is pressed into political service when his father dies, leaving his hometown without a presence in Rome—a presence that’s necessary if his village is to receive the aid they need to survive. Service to the Roman patricians soon runs counter to Sertorius’s values, however, and he joins the Roman Legions in order to keep his people from starving. Now, his once possible benefactors in Rome become his mortal enemies, forcing Sertorius to face threats on two fronts—from the nobility and from Rome’s enemies in the distant battlefields of Gaul. It’s hard choice, picking the more treacherous and deadly of the two.

For the complete review, see:

Death Notice (A Kisses and Killers Thriller) by Lolli Powell

An Exceptional Blend of Romance and Crime Thriller

I once read that if romance was part of the name for a book’s genre (e.g., historical romance, romantic thriller, etc.), the romance would always take precedence and the plot might become a backdrop for intimacy. At the opposite extreme, thrillers may have the main characters jump into bed even when their behavior is more surprising than the story’s plot twists. When and how did this attraction develop when they are on the verge of a grisly death? But author Lolli Powell avoids either extreme with skill and finesse, producing a tale in Death Notice that is as naturally romantic as it is gut-wrenchingly tense.

For the complete review, see:

The Sapphire Eruption: An Epic Adventure (The Sword's Choice Book 1) by I.M. Redwright

The Start to What Promises to be an Epic, Fantasy Adventure

On his seventeenth birthday, Noakhail (Noakh) learns that he had been selected by a magic sword to rule the “fire” kingdom of his world. To take his rightful place, however, he’ll need to defeat the current king who commands a formidable army, who has the twin to Noakh’s magic sword, and who has had years of training and practice in its use. That, in a couple of sentences, is the central conflict of the series, The Sword’s Choice. Book 1 of the series, The Sapphire Eruption sees Noakh learn of his situation, attract a small band of followers, and develop his plan to return, which will take him through each of the other kingdoms (water where he’s been in hiding, earth, and air). The book also foreshadows a conflict with the water kingdom, whose magic sword has also recently selected a new queen, Vienne. She too must learn of her sword’s powers and is opposed by the reigning queen. And neither was favored for selection, Noakh being an unknown commoner and Vienne the least ‘queen-like’ of her princess sisters. Coincidences? Maybe, but more likely, the similarity of backgrounds and plights will play into this tale as it unfolds.

For the complete review, see:

A Private Cathedral: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (Dave Robicheaux #23) by James Lee Burke

Hard-boiled Crime and Paranormal Make for an Uneasy Mix

The first thing I noticed about A Private Cathedral is the author’s writing style. It’s eloquent, evocative, and vividly descriptive. Author Burke doesn’t write about a sunset, but about strips of orange fire in the clouds. And while the final metaphors and similes may change—this review is based on a pre-release version of the novel—Burke’s writing style won’t, and that’s a definite plus. I appreciated the mental images and feelings his expressive prose engendered. I enjoy this style, however, as ‘seasoning’ to the text and for my taste, Burke over-seasoned this book. Amid action, he often paused to paint a word picture of the setting, or of a flashback from the protagonist’s past as a child or in Vietnam, or of a historical or mythological reference. I would have preferred that Burke depict the setting and once done, let the action flow. Additionally, he frequently rendered his flowery prose in quite lengthy sentences. One I noticed was 76 words long with seven conjunctions (and) to tie it all together. Probably as a result of these stylistic decisions, I found the story a bit slow, somewhat repetitive, and unfocused in places.

Release now set for Aug. 11 but the full review is on Goodreads here:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

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