I picked up this book in the hopes of learning about what mischief humans got up to on all the continents after the ice age (20 000 BC) until the event of civilization (5000 BC) via archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence. Well, this book just didn't do it for me. I read approximately half the book and had to stop. Instead of a science/history book, the author wrote an annoying historical fiction novel with the odd bit of archaeological findings thrown in.
The author has a habit of describing what he thinks life might be like at various places at various points in history, but he isn't always clear to differentiate between the information based on archaeological evidence and what is essentially the author's speculation. In addition, the presence of an extremely annoying, silly and distracting fictional, time-travelling anthropologist ghost gimmick acting as eye-witness is included everywhere. This fictional character was amusing int he first two chapters, but after that I kept hoping some neolithic shaman would exorcise him.
This annoying fictional character wonders around the prehistoric world in no particular order, other than dealing with each continent at a time. This random wondering in time and space makes for jumbled and confusing reading, especially since no additional timeline diagram was provided. In addition, many of the sites discussed in the book have similar findings and everything eventually blurres into one big smudge. Pictures or diagrams would have been useful to differentiate these sites from one another.
In between the historical fiction accounts are jumbled-up, brief and rather vague archeological descriptions of selected sites, but genetic and linguistic evidence is mostly ignored, or currently outdated (the book was published in 2004).
What facts I managed to pick out of what I read of this book were interesting, but the writing style was confusing, messy and after a while, rather boring. I just couldn't keep my interest in this book going any further and decided to find something else to read.
This series featuring Lady Emily is another one of my favorite mystery series. If you follow the series too, then you know Lady Emily was married and widowed before she remarried Colin Hargreaves. Well in this installment, Lady Emily, Colin, Jeremy & Margaret go on a holiday to help Jeremy recover from his last relationship disaster. When they arrive at Lady Emily's home in Santorini, Greece, Colin & Lady Emily get a very shocking 'blast from the past' and their plans for a peaceful retreat are thwarted. I can't say much else without giving the entire story away so you'll just have to read it..
After reading this series I always want to hop on a plane. The Greek island setting makes the perfect backdrop for the story. They also visit different ruins, a volcano, an archaeological dig and other historical landmarks so it somewhat satiates my need to travel. I love Margaret and Jeremy too so I was glad they were along for the ride. They always add a nice dose of humor to the story line.
There was plenty of murder, mayhem & mystery to keep me entertained & I'm already looking forward to more adventures with Lady Emily.
*I received this ARC from NetGalley & St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Let me just say that Elizabeth Peters aka Barbara Michaels/Mertz is one of my all time favorite authors! I absolutely love all of her books but this series is my most favorite because of its ancient Egypt and archaeology theme. Plus I fell in love with Amelia Peabody and her family from book one. It literally has some of everything that I enjoy- exotic locales, mystery, espionage, war, suspense, adventure and travel, archaeology, Egyptology etc.etc. It just resonates with me on so many levels. I'm going to be so sad when I reach the end of the series! I actually stopped reading it a year or so ago because I was getting close to the end and I wasn't ready for that at all, but for one of our Summer Book Bingo squares we had to read a book by an author that has passed away so I figured this was my cue to suck it up and just savor the few remaining books. I'm very glad I did. I've missed their family dynamics and their scheming...
In this particular book they have just arrived at their home in Luxor, Egypt for an extended stay because the war is on and traveling back to England by ship is too dangerous because of the military submarines. They are working at the site of Deir el Medina; speculation about the possible location a royal tomb is running rampant and British Intelligence is seeking out Ramses for another mission. As always there is never a dull moment and the story is highly entertaining. If you haven't read any of Peters' books yet you should give them a try one day. Just a word of caution though, I would stay away from the audio of this particular series. I don't care for the narrator at all. In my opinion, she doesn't do the series or characters the justice they deserve.
Wonderland, Oz, and The Dark Tower. Sliders, Quantum Leap, and Stargate. Whether it's on the page or on the screen, portal fantasy is one of the oldest tropes in science fiction and fantasy. While it's often abused as a lazy sort of storytelling cheat, it works best when there's interesting puzzle or mystery behind the portal itself to be paired with unique adventures on the other side.
That said, I'm not sure you'll find adventures any more unique than those offered up by Alana Melos in her Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles series. These are fun stories, vintage pulp adventures that are as absurd as they are erotic, driven by the magical mystery of the Janus Key. Like Dr. Sam Beckett, twin siblings Dirk and Debbie find themselves leaping blindly from one alternate reality to another, never knowing where they'll end up, driven not by good deeds, but by orgasmic encounters.
Not surprisingly, the first adventure (Rump Raiding Raptors) is the weakest of the bunch. Marred by several typos, some awkward narration, and a few confusing shifts of POV, it didn't make the greatest first impression. On top of that, the idea of a dinosaur-based society, with a horny Raptor cop abusing poor Dirk, just seemed a little too silly. It was original, however, and the erotic aspects were actually very well done.
Fortunately, the quality of both the writing and the storytelling improved dramatically with The Perils of Penetrating Pixies. It felt like there was more plot to this one, and grounding it in more familiar mythologies certainly made it more accessible. The erotic scenes here were both frantic and inventive, especially with Debbie's first erotic explorations by the tiny pixies.
Riddled by the Sphinx, the third book in the series, is where things really hit their stride. This one had a very Stargate feel with its take on an alternate Egypt, and the use of a living Sphinx as the erotic protagonist was actually quite clever. It's a fun, sexy tale, but also the first one where we begin to understand the dangers Dirk and Debbie face in losing themselves to such sensual temptations. Here is where that mystery/puzzle starts becoming more prominent.
Personally, I found Savaged by Sadistic Spirits to be the most uneven of the collection, but I give Melos full credit for introducing a new, Quantum Leap like twist. The whole 70s séance scene is actually very well done, complete with leisure suits and groovy slang, and while I found the story took a while to really hit its peak, Debbie's erotic mauling by unseen spirits (taking her on the ceiling, a la Poltergeist) is as chilling as it is erotic.
With Knob Gobblin' Hobgoblins, this first collection definitely ends on a high note. This is true pulp fantasy, complete with dragons, elves, water spirits, Amazonian warriors, and hobgoblins. Once again, it's Dirk's turn to provide the orgasmic energies for their next leap, but the way it's done (and the reasons for it) are fantastically creative. Not to give anything away, but his role as something of a surrogate conduit is suitably bizarre, and I particularly liked that Melos resolved his own doubts about his supernatural sexuality.
Despite a rocky start with the first story, The Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles turned out to be everything I could have hoped for. There's solid storytelling, great world-building, over-the-top eroticism, and plenty of geeky references for readers to pick up on. Given that she's just released the 10th volume, Reamin' Demons, here's hoping there's a second omnibus on the way.
Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published April 4th 2015