Tag Archives: history

The Fire Starters (Nicholas Foxe Adventures #3) by Jackson Coppley Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Adventurer and history-searching hero Nicholas Foxe returns, this time racing against the clock to stop a guild of fire starters who trace their origins back to the days of Ancient Rome as a plot to target places in the United States in author Jackson Coppley’s “The Fire Starters”, the third book in the Nicholas Foxe Adventures series.

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The Synopsis

In The Fire Starters, Nicholas Foxe uncovers a guild of pyromaniacs that traces its roots to ancient Rome. Were these modern-day fire starters responsible for the fire at Notre Dame? Were they responsible for a firebombing at The London Eye? Do they now have targets in the United States?

Nick finds an important clue deep in the ruins of Nero’s buried palace and realizes the fire starters work has just begun. The lives of thousands are at stake. Can Nick and his team stop the fire starters before it’s too late?

The Review

Jackson Coppley has done it again! The perfect blend of deep dives into history and mythology from around the world and incredibly rich and complex character development, the third book in the Nicholas Foxe Adventures series was an instant hit. As a fan of history, I loved the author’s research and the highlight of Ancient Rome and the surrounding cultures of the age of Emperor Nero showing off during the early chapters of the book, while also adding very human and personal character connections to highlight the danger and mystery that our world houses.

The thing that always makes a Nicholas Foxe adventure stand out for me is that the protagonist, Nicholas, remains vital to the narrative, and yet allows the story to develop fascinating characters with backstories that feel solid and well-developed, whereas some thrillers tend to have rushed character development instead. Having Nicholas’s connection to newcomer Ray Woodward was an amazing way of introducing this mystery of the fire starters, and gave the narrative a much more rich connection between the history and the characters overall.

The Verdict

Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code, author Jackson Coppley’s “The Fire Starters” is the perfect next chapter in the Nicholas Foxe series. The novels feel so cinematic and engaging, that one can only hope these stories make their way to the silver screen someday. The way the author makes history feel more alive and pronounced than it has in a long time in the literary world is great to see unfold, and I do hope that fans and I alike will be treated to more Nicholas Foxe Adventures in the future! If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jackson Coppley weaves stories from a sophisticated knowledge of technology and a keen sense of adventure. Coppley travels the world with his vivid imagination at work to create exciting stories with characters readers feel they know.

https://www.jacksoncoppley.com/

Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir by Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li take readers into the heart of modern-day Iceland as Sverrir goes on a voyage around the world in the same vein as his Viking ancestors in the book, “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir”.

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The Synopsis

This vivacious personal story captures the heart and soul of modern Iceland. Born in Reykjavik on the eve of the Second World War, Sverrir Sigurdsson watched Allied troops invade his country and turn it into a bulwark against Hitler’s advance toward North America. The country’s post-war transformation from an obscure, dirt-poor nation to a prosperous one became every Icelander’s success. Spurred by this favorable wind, Sverrir answered the call of his Viking forefathers, setting off on a voyage that took him around the world. Join him on his roaring adventures!

The Review

A truly magnificent and engaging read, this book really does capture the adventurous spirit and rich history of Iceland and author Sverrir’s Viking forefathers. The balance of history, culture, and life experiences through travel was great to see unfold here, from Sverrir’s family history to setting out into the world and studying in Finland, to making a life and home after years of travel with his wife and co-author Veronica Li, this book really does a great job of educating and allowing the reader to identify with the authors and their journeys. 

What really stuck out to me however was the way the authors managed to tie their more “modern” adventures around the world to the ancient Viking culture. As a people known for their travels and explorations, it was interesting to see the cultural note that so many Icelandic people have to make a name for themselves and learn from distant lands in order to bring more knowledge to their home country, in an effort to become the best. It felt like the perfect chord that brought the past and present together as one and really shows how ancient cultures still have an impact on our world today. 

The Verdict

A masterful, thoughtful, and culturally-driven memoir, authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li’s “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir” is a must-read book. The attention to detail really brought the personal and broader history of Iceland and the author to life, while the teamwork and chemistry of both authors and their writing styles allowed the information and culture of this book to be absorbed by the reader. Even the utilization of images and guides to highlight Iceland and its language was both informative and engrossing all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.

Veronica Li emigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong as a teenager. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University. She has worked as a journalist and for the World Bank, and is currently a writer. Her three previously published titles are: Nightfall in Mogadishu, Journey across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman’s Search for Home, and Confucius Says: A Novel.

Sverrir Sigurdsson Author | Facebook

www.linkedin.com/in/sverrir-sigurdsson-29b51732

The Day the Pirates Went Mad by Trevor Atkins Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl must face impossible odds when she is the only one who stands in the way of a pirate curse taking over her entire ship’s crew in the Golden Age of Piracy in author Trevor Atkins’ novel, “The Day the Pirates Went Mad”.

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The Synopsis

In 1701, orphanage runaway Emma Sharpe changed the direction of her life when she stowed away aboard the New Adventure. A year later, she’s rated an able seaman and is an important part of the crew. Just how important becomes clear during her next voyage to the West Indies when the crew recovers an abandoned pirate treasure. As tempers fray and unusual arguments become more frequent, Emma starts to believe there might really be a curse on the gold they took. With the help of cabin boy Jack Randall, Emma dares to confront the growing threat of violence amongst the formerly close-knit crew. Will they save everyone in time? Can they save themselves?

THE DAY THE PIRATES WENT MAD takes place at the turn of the 18th century and the Golden Age of Piracy is just around the corner. Follow the adventures of eleven-year-old Emma Sharpe as she learns to sail the sea, bonds with her shipmates, and then must save them all from a cursed pirate treasure before it’s too late!

[Warning: Some readers may find the descriptions of discovered deceased pirates disturbing.]

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THE DAY THE PIRATES WENT MAD is an entertaining ‘cozy’ historical fiction that also conveys a ‘boatload’ of learning about the life and times of those sailing the seas 300 years ago, during the Age of Sail.

Intended for grades 5-7, this story can also be suitable for sharing with younger grades when supported by an adult. You know your kids best! 

The Review

A truly fantastic and engaging historical fiction read. The author not only finds a means of balancing the historical aspect of this narrative but writes the protagonists and the novel in a way that allows for children ages 10-12 to learn and discover life in the 18th century on the high seas. The author’s attention to detail in terms of language and terminology amongst the sailors and the era the narrative took place in was amazing, and the theme of how wealth and power can influence the mind, whether you believe it to be a curse or not, was really fascinating to see unfold here.

What stood out the most however was the incredible character growth and development here. Emma is a fantastic school-aged heroine for the age of pirates. An orphan who became a sailor and part of a crew and family makes for such a gripping tale, and the evolution of her character as she makes her way up the ladder of the ship’s crew and finds the adventure she has always sought was truly a great means of investing in this story.

The Verdict

A marvelous, entertaining, and educational read, author Trevor Atkins’s “The Day the Pirates Went Mad” was a must-read historical fiction and middle-age level narrative. The way the author writes really brought out the imagery and tone of what life on the high seas must have been like, and the swashbuckling adventure that the crew found themselves on as they traded treasure for trust made this a masterful story to get lost in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Trevor Atkins lives with his family on the west coast of Canada. He has been working with words for much of his life, but has only recently pursued historical fiction. A storyteller and role-player of detailed characters, Trevor finds it natural to weave together many intertwining plot threads when writing. His bane is the perfecting effort of revision‌—there’s always something more that can be tweaked and improved. But then comes the day when enough is enough, and the story must be set free for others to read!

Inspired by R. L. Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island” and Y. E. Allison’s poem “Derelict”, THE DAY THE PIRATES WENT MAD was originally intended as a short story for my daughter, peppered with nuggets of knowledge about real life during the Age of Sail and the Golden Age of Piracy in particular. As I found myself diving down one research rabbit hole after another, the tale grew into the novel it is today.

Follow Trevor on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/trevor.atkins.author and check out https://emmasharpesadventures.com for “behind-the-scenes” and additional materials meant to deepen the educational aspects of Emma’s adventures.

Want More Pirates?

Trevor also designs educational tabletop games. “Pirate Pursuit – The Spanish Treasure Fleet” is a game of cat-and-mouse on the high seas where 3–5 players must use their knowledge of real pirate lore to catch the crafty pirate before they plunder the Spanish treasure fleet! Visit http://silverpath.com for more…

 E-book: https://www.amazon.com/Day-Pirates-Went-Mad-ebook/dp/B091JMKVG3/

·       Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Day-Pirates-Went-Mad/dp/1989459021/  

Discovering The Colosseum: Between Myth and Reality by Mauro Poma Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Mauro Poma takes readers on an exciting journey into the heart and history of the infamous Roman Colosseum in the book “Discovering the Colosseum”.

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The Synopsis

A fascinating journey into the world of the largest amphitheater in Roman history to explore its curiosities, stories, characters, animals, gladiators, and much more. . . The author will help you discover the tricks used by the Romans to build this giant of history, describe the atmosphere of the events, the animals employed, and their fate. Who was in the audience? How were death sentences executed? What happened in the hypogeum? With a compelling style the author will also describe the great and undisputed protagonists of the games: the gladiators. Where did they come from? Who were they? Why did they fight? Why did they keep their helmets on before being killed? Where did their blood go when they died? He will also take a look at some of the mistakes in the film “Gladiator”, starting with the famous gesture of thumbs down. . . Discover the Colosseum: a monument, once abandoned, that has given shelter to criminals and prostitutes. It has been transformed into a fortress and sacred place, a bomb shelter, and huge roundabout; it has also hosted millions of spectators in its time, along with visitors, tourists, pilgrims, and the many plants that grow within its unforgettable arches.

The Review

As a longtime history buff, I was instantly drawn to this book. One thing that has always fascinated me is the line that so often blurs between pop culture and entertainment and the facts of history, and the author does a great job of really delving into the real history and culture of the infamous Colosseum. 

The author does a fantastic job of balancing the statistics and facts of the Colosseum and its history, from the hunts and how the Romans would bring in the powerful animals featured in the games, with the more personal and approachable writing style that allows the reader to feel like they are in a conversation with the author, rather than being lectured or talked to. The landmark’s history just comes to life right off the page, really allowing the reader to feel transported back to the Colosseum at the height of its power. 

The Verdict

An informative, engaging, and thought-provoking history-driven book, author Mauro Poma’s “Discovering the Colosseum” is a must-read non-fiction book. The amount of history, culture, and facts the author provides to the reader complements the author’s natural and personable writing style and encourages the reader to want to visit this landmark for themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born and raised in Rome, scholar of the Eternal City, Mauro Poma is a qualified tour guide of Rome, a writer and a lecturer. He has got two degrees: one in History and Conservation of the Artistic and Archaeological Heritage and one in Political Sciences. He is the author of the book “Discovering the Colosseum”, that is the revised and enlarged English edition of “Alla scoperta del Colosseo”. He works as lecturer at Dante Alighieri association, the most prestigious Italian cultural association in the world.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mauro-rometogo/

Guns and Gods In My Genes: A 15,000-Mile North American Search Through Four Centuries, to the Mayflower by Neil McKee Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Readers are treated to a journey through time as author Neil McKee highlights his family history and both the heroes and villains who comprised his family’s legacy in Canada and America in the book “Guns and Gods In My Genes”. 

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The Synopsis 

Neill McKee, author of the award-winning travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo, takes the reader through 400 years and 15,000 miles of an on-the-road adventure, discovering stories of his Scots-Irish ancestors in Canada, while uncovering their attitudes towards religion and guns. 

His adventure turns south and west as he follows the trail of his maternal grandfather, a Canadian preacher who married an American woman in Wisconsin, and braved the American Wild West from 1904 to 1907, finding a two-story brothel across from one of his churches and a sheriff who owned a saloon and dance hall, while carrying a gun with 20 notches, one for each man he had killed. 

Much to his surprise, McKee finds his American ancestors were involved in every major conflict on North American soil: the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the French and Indian War. In the last chapters, McKee discovers and documents his Pilgrim ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth in 1620, and their Puritan descendants who fought in the early Indian Wars of New England. 

With the help of professional genealogical research, he tracks down and tells the stories of the heroes, villains, rascals, as well as, the godly and ordinary folk in his genes, discovering many facts and exposing myths. He also lets readers in on a personal struggle: whether to apply for Canadian-United States dual citizenship or remain only a Canadian.

The Review

The author has really crafted an amazing book. What immediately stands out is how unlike the typical memoir or biography style of writing this book takes. A great portion of this read encompasses a personal take on some of history’s greatest and most memorable moments through the lens of one man’s family, from the American Civil War to the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The amount of detail and research the author poured into his family’s history was incredible to read, especially for a fan of history such as myself.

Yet what really stood out was how so much of this book also incorporated meditative, reflective moments in which the author seemed to speak to the reader, to his ancestors as he explored moments in history, and to himself. It allows the reader to really get a sense of the connection the author had to this journey and his family as he delved deeper and deeper into their history, allowing the reader to also feel more connected as well.

The Verdict

A remarkable, thoughtful, and lengthy yet engaging read, author Neil McKee’s “Guns and Gods In My Genes” is must-read non-fiction read. The amount of research, history, and personal reflection that the author shares in this journey make for a truly memorable read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this amazing book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His first travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, won a bronze medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, 2020, as well as other awards. McKee holds a Bachelor’s Degree, from the University of Calgary and a Master’s Degree in Communication from Florida State University. He worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. He directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multimedia initiatives, and has written numerous articles and books in the field of development communication. During his international career, McKee worked for Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO); Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC); UNICEF; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; Academy for Educational Development and FHI 360, Washington, DC. He worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, he settled in New Mexico, using his varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.

Find him online at:

Author’s website: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/neill-mckee-b9971b65/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McKeeNeill/

Twitter: twitter.com/MckeeNeill

NBFS: www.northborneofrodotolkien.org

– Blog Tour Dates

February 15th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us as we talk to author Neill McKee and celebrate the launch of his blog tour for his travel memoir, Guns and Gods in My Genes. You can also enter to win a copy of the book yourself!

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

February 17th @ Choices

Join Madeline today as she spotlights Neill McKee’s travel memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

http://madelinesharples.com/

February 20th @ Bring on Lemons

Turn lemons into lemonade by visiting Crystal’s blog today, where you can read her honest review of Neill McKees insightful memoir, Guns and Gods in My Genes.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

February 22nd @ CloudsGirls27 Reads Books

Join Melissa as she reads Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

https://bookreviewsbycloudsgirl27.home.blog/

February 24th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Come by Anthony’s blog today where he interviews author Neill McKee about his memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes

February 25th @ What is That Book About

Michelle spotlights Neill McKee’s book Guns and Gods in My Genes.

https://www.whatisthatbookabout.com/

February 26th @ Lisa Haselton’s Book Reviews & Interviews

Visit Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Neill McKee about his book Guns and Gods in My Genes.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

February 27th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Join Linda as she treats us to an interview with author Neill McKee and chats with him about his memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. She also shares some insights about the book! 

http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

February 28th @ Lilly’s Book Wonderland

Join Lilly as she shares her insights into Neill McKee’s fascinating travel memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

https://www.lillysbookwonderland.com/

March 1st @ World of My Imagination

Light up your imagination when you visit Nicole’s blog today! She shares her insights into Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

March 3rd @ Joy Neal Kidney’s Blog

Make sure you stop by Joy’s blog today and read her review of Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

https://joynealkidney.com/

March 3rd @ Memoir Memoir

Visit John’s blog today and you can read his review of Nell McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

https://memoir-memoir.com/

March 5th @ A Storybook World

Deirdra spotlights Neill McKee’s profound memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

March 8th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Join Kathy as she reviews Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

https://www.krpooler.com/

March 11th @ The Frugalista Mom

Join Rozelyn as she reviews Neill McKee’s fascinating memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. You can also win a copy of the book too!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

March 12th @ Memoir Revolution

https://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/

March 14th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony again when he reviews Neill McKee’s memorable memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 15th @ My Writer Blog

Join Carole as she reviews Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

http://carolemertz.com/

March 16th @ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire

Set your reading list on fire with Mindy McGinnis as she spotlights Neil McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. You also have the chance to win a copy of this fascinating book!

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog/

Salamis by Harry Turtledove Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two men and the neutral country they call home are caught in the midst of a legendary battle between two warring Marshalls of Alexander the Great in author Harry Turtledove’s historical fiction novel, “Salamis”. 

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The Synopsis

In 306 BC, the small, free, and independent polis of Rhodes is trying to stay neutral between the local great powers, each ruled by one of Alexander the Great’s marshals: Asia Minor, controlled by one-eyed Antigonos, and the Egypt of Ptolemaios. Antigonos’ son, Demetrios, comes to Rhodes seeking an alliance against Ptolemaios. The Rhodians, who trade a lot with Egypt, refuse his offer.

Menedemos and Sostratos take the Aphrodite to Egypt for business…and to tell Ptolemaios what has been going on. Just before they leave, they learn Demetrios has invaded the island of Cyprus, which Ptolemaios dominates. He is advancing on the southeastern town of Salamis, where Ptolemaios’ brother, Menelaos, has concentrated his forces.

After they pass on their news, Menedemos does business in the brash new city of Alexandria while Sostratos travels up the Nile to old, old Memphis to trade there, and to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Ptolemaios, meanwhile, readies a fleet to rescue his brother and drive Demetrios back to Asia Minor.

Ptolemaios, needing shipping to carry weapons for the army he intends to land, coerces Menedemos into bringing the Aphrodite along as part of his expeditionary force. And so, very much against their will, Menedemos and Sostratos become small parts of one of the ancient world’s greatest naval battles. 

The Review

A wonderful deep-dive into ancient history, author Harry Turtledove has done it again with a stellar novel. The balance the author achieves with the historical background and events of the war between Ptolemaios and Demetrios and the personal relationships and struggles of the protagonists Menedemos and Sostratos is remarkable. War was an all too common event in this period of history, and getting to know the characters personally who were caught in the midst of this war was fascinating to see unfold.

The author’s use of imagery shone brightly in this narrative, with the cities of Salamis, Alexandria, and Memphis coming to life and exploring pivotal locations in Ancient Greece and Egypt. As a history fan, exploring the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s passing as his successors fought over who deserved to rule over the empire he had built was amazing, and giving the role of protagonist to a small historical figure and a fictitious character both was an inspired choice. 

The Verdict

Enthralling, action-packed, and historically driven, author Harry Turtledove’s “Salamis” is a must-read historical fiction novel. The fifth of the Hellenic Traders Universe that the author has crafted around Menedemos and Sostratos was a massive success, with an evenly-paced narrative and engaging characters that made the story come to life as one of history’s greatest battles became the stage for this plot to come to life. From the way, society ran during those days in places like Rhodes to the bond between a family being tested, especially for Menedemos, made this a truly entertaining read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced a sizeable number of works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Harry Turtledove attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977.

Turtledove has been dubbed “The Master of Alternate History”. Within this genre he is known both for creating original scenarios: such as survival of the Byzantine Empire; an alien invasion in the middle of the World War II; and for giving a fresh and original treatment to themes previously dealt with by other authors, such as the victory of the South in the American Civil War; and of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream. His style of alternate history has a strong military theme.

https://www.sfsite.com/~silverag/turtledove.html

What the Wind Brings by Matthew Hughes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Three individuals in the sixteenth century find themselves brought together after a shipwreck brings escaped African slaves together with local indigenous people on coastal Ecuador to face the Spanish and become an independent state in author Matthew Hughes historical fiction novel, “What the Wind Brings”. 

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The Synopsis

In the mid 1500s shipwrecked African slaves melded with the indigenous peoples of coastal Ecuador and together they fought the Spanish colonial power to a standstill, to remain independent for centuries. The story of the people of Esmeraldas is told through the eyes of three characters: Alonso, an escaped slave; Expectation, an a-gender shaman; and Alejandro, a priest on the run from the Inquisition. With its slipstream elements this novel carries a flavor of South American magical realism tradition into a grand historical epic. Both sweeping and intimate, it is a delight to read from beginning to end.

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of crafting a narrative that draws its strength from intricate and memorable characters. The use of historical figures as the protagonists was an inspired choice and made it easier for readers to connect with the characters overall. 

What really makes this story stand out is the time period for which the narrative is based around. The setting of 16th century South America and the tumultuous time that came from the Spanish colonization efforts that resulted in conquered peoples, enslavement, and eventually rebellion and bloodshed gave readers a rarely seen point in time to learn about and connect with. The strength it took for the African escaped slaves and the indigenous people to come together and face the many obstacles they did to become an independent state are fascinating to read about.

The Verdict

A lengthy yet powerful read, author Matthew Hughes’s novel “What the Wind Brings” is a must-read historical fiction read. The way the author took in the various belief systems and cultures of those involved in the narrative and how they both clashed and came together made this a one-of-a-kind story. This is a fascinating read that will engage with readers who love history, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Liverpool, his family moved to Canada when he was five years old. Married since late 1960s, he has three grown sons. He is currently relocated to Britain. He is a former director of the Federation of British Columbia Writers.

A university drop-out from a working poor background, he worked in a factory that made school desks, drove a grocery delivery truck, was night janitor in a GM dealership, and did a short stint as an orderly in a private mental hospital. As a teenager, he served a year as a volunteer with the Company of Young Canadians.

He has made his living as a writer all of his adult life, first as a journalist in newspapers, then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and, since 1979, as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia.

His short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’sAsimov’sThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionPostscriptsInterzone, and a number of “Year’s Best” anthologies. Night Shade Books published his short story collection, The Gist Hunter and Other Stories, in 2005.

He has won the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada. His novels and stories regularly make the Locus Magazine annual recommended reading list.

http://www.matthewhughes.org

Blood and Silver by Vali Benson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young girl must find a way to save her mother from a nefarious Madame in the town of Tombstone in author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver”. 

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The Synopsis

What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.

After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.

Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.

China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.

Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.

With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.

The Review

This was a fast-paced, intricate character study and intense YA historical read. The author does a great job of focusing on character development within the narrative, and the historical nature of the novel was very well researched and integrated naturally into the book as well. 

The story takes off immediately from the very first pages, with a murder leading to Carissa’s discovery of her mother’s condition and the lengths Miss Lucille will go to secure her business. The young woman risks it all to save those closest to her, and historical fiction and YA fans will love the intricate way the setting plays into the character’s arc and the narrative overall. 

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The Verdict

A must-read novel, author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver” is a truly one-of-a-kind read. The historical fiction YA adventure is filled with a gritty Western theme and does a great job of giving a voice to people who are usually relegated to background characters in the typical Western novel, making this a wonderful read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.

In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, “Blood and Silver”. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53167218-blood-and-silver

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The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A chapter in history get’s a secret new chapter that showcases a thrilling possible sequel to one of history’s greatest, most powerful yet most terrifying projects in the name of science in author Robert J. Sawyer’s “The Oppenheimer Alternative”. 

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The Synopsis

On the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb, Hugo and Nebula-winning author Robert J. Sawyer takes us back in time to revisit history…with a twist.

While J. Robert Oppenheimer and his Manhattan Project team struggle to develop the A-bomb, Edward Teller wants something even more devastating: a bomb based on nuclear fusion—the mechanism that powers the sun.

Teller’s research leads to a terrifying discovery: by the year 2030, the sun will eject its outermost layer, destroying the entire inner solar system—including Earth.

As the war ends with the use of fission bombs against Japan, Oppenheimer’s team, plus Albert Einstein and Wernher von Braun, stay together—the greatest scientific geniuses from the last century racing against time to save our future.

Meticulously researched and replete with real-life characters and events, The Oppenheimer Alternative is a breathtaking adventure through both real and alternate history.

The Review

A brilliant combination of true historical events mixed with alternative history, author Robert J. Sawyer has created a masterpiece of a story. Delving into the deeper character growth of historical figures like Robert J. Oppenheimer, the author brings more of a personal viewpoint of these larger than life figures. With figures like Oppenheimer and Einstein being so notable and their work making them as infamous as they are, it was fascinating to see how facing the end of the world would have brought them together in a whole new way. 

The author does an excellent job of highlighting the brilliant minds at work historically during this period of time, and the science that they both discovered and worked in. The irony of choosing Oppenheimer as the protagonist is felt in the pages of this book. While he is notorious for his quote, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”, the author not only does an excellent job of exploring the man behind the legend, but giving him the chance to fight for humanity’s survival as our own solar system threatens to turn against itself. 

The Verdict

Highly scientific and creative, “The Oppenheimer Alternative” by Robert J. Sawyer is a masterful work of fiction that both entertains and educates readers on the work done by scientists, the manipulation of scientific discoveries by politics and militarization, and the work that can occur when scientists use their brilliance to saving lives rather than destruction. Oppenheimer is a truly unique and memorable protagonist and readers will love the sci-fi turn of events as the story progresses, creating a one of a kind read that readers will not be able to get enough of. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer is one of Canada’s best known and most successful science fiction writers. He is the only Canadian (and one of only 7 writers in the world) to have won all three of the top international awards for science fiction: the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment, the 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids, and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan.

Robert Sawyer grew up in Toronto, the son of two university professors. He credits two of his favourite shows from the late 1960s and early 1970s, Search and Star Trek, with teaching him some of the fundamentals of the science-fiction craft. Sawyer was obsessed with outer space from a young age, and he vividly remembers watching the televised Apollo missions. He claims to have watched the 1968 classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey 25 times. He began writing science fiction in a high school club, which he co-founded, NASFA (Northview Academy Association of Science Fiction Addicts). Sawyer graduated in 1982 from the Radio and Television Arts Program at Ryerson University, where he later worked as an instructor.

Sawyer’s first published book, Golden Fleece (1989), is an adaptation of short stories that had previously appeared in the science-fiction magazine Amazing Stories. This book won the Aurora Award for the best Canadian science-fiction novel in English. In the early 1990s Sawyer went on to publish his inventive Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, about a world of intelligent dinosaurs. His 1995 award winning The Terminal Experiment confirmed his place as a major international science-fiction writer.

A prolific writer, Sawyer has published more than 10 novels, plus two trilogies. Reviewers praise Sawyer for his concise prose, which has been compared to that of the science-fiction master Isaac Asimov. Like many science fiction-writers, Sawyer welcomes the opportunities his chosen genre provides for exploring ideas. The first book of his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, Hominids (2002), is set in a near-future society, in which a quantum computing experiment brings a Neanderthal scientist from a parallel Earth to ours. His 2006 Mindscan explores the possibility of transferring human consciousness into a mechanical body, and the ensuing ethical, legal, and societal ramifications.

A passionate advocate for science fiction, Sawyer teaches creative writing and appears frequently in the media to discuss his genre. He prefers the label “philosophical fiction,” and in no way sees himself as a predictor of the future. His mission statement for his writing is “To combine the intimately human with the grandly cosmic.”