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text 2017-12-30 00:43
My Top 10 Reads of 2017!
Theophilus: A Tale of Ancient Rome - Lewis Ben Smith
Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome - Crystal King
Regarding Tiberius: An Epic Tragedy of Mass Murder, Sworn Vengeance, Forbidden Love, Greek Ambition, Persian Honor, & Roman Might in the Ancient Near East - Helena Mithridates Kleopatra,Bartholomew Boge,Raelenne Boge,Rosani Akhtar-Moore
Infinite - Jeremy Robinson
Bread of Angels - Tessa Afshar
Eternal Darkness - Tom Deady,Pete Kahle,Richard Chizmar
The Last Child - John Hart
Counted With the Stars (Out From Egypt) - Connilyn Cossette
Puzzle Master - J.T. McKenna
Mysterious Kemet - Book I: Intrigue and Drama in Ancient Egypt - S.R. Anand

These are my top 10 reads of the year and as always, most of them are historical fiction, but I loved them all and would recommend them to anyone!

 

Theophilus by Lewis Ben Smith is the person to whom the Gospel of Luke and The Book of Acts is addressed to in the Bible and not much is known about him. The author, however, did a magnificent job in taking this character and building this story around him that coincides with the biblical narrative.

 

A Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King: This book mainly centers on the life of Marcus Gavius Apicius whose recipes were written down, but according to the author's notes, no cookbook survived but some of his recipes did survive in the writings of other historical figures. Apicius was a very wealthy Roman citizen whose passion for cooking and good food sees him spend a great deal of money to buy a slave named Thrasius to be his cook. His dream is to be the gastronomic advisor to Caesar himself. 

 

Regarding Tiberius by Helena Mithrtdates Kleopatra is the novelization of a series of ancient scrolls recently discovered in the ruins of famed Roman commander Scipio Africanus' seaside villa (near Naples, Italy). Written in the First Century by a young woman of Persian and Ethiopian ancestry, Helena Mithridates Kleopatra, they comprise an account of how her life and destiny were forever altered by her chance meeting with Tiberius, the son of a prominent Roman senator.

 

Infinte by Jeremy Robinson- Earth is no longer habitable and a crew of 50 scientists and engineers aboard a spacecraft head to a new planet that will hopefully be hospitable. After ten years in a failed cryogenic bed--body asleep, mind awake--William Chanokh's torture comes to an end as the fog clears, the hatch opens, and his friend and fellow hacker, Tom, greets him...by stabbing a screwdriver into his heart.

This is one of my favorite authors, and this book was awesome!

 

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar- quickly becoming a favorite author. This one takes the character of Lydia from the Book of Acts in the Bible and tells her story while staying true to the biblical account.

 

Eternal Darkness by Tom Deady- I just discovered this author this year when I read his book, Haven. I enjoyed it so much that I got this one, which is a coming of age story about vampires, and enjoyed it even more. He will also be writing a sequel to it. Lots of fun.

 

The Last Child by Jon Hart- I loved this coming of age, mystery!
Don't get me wrong though...this book is dark, but the characterization is excellent, especially of the main character, Johnny. This kid carries a heavy burden, with his twin sister having disappeared a year before, his father leaving, and his mother- who is a ghost of her former self. A sequel is supposed to be out next year, and I am looking forward to it!

 

Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette - Set during the time of the Great Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt and follows a slave girl, Kiya, who escapes the bonds of slavery and joins the Hebrews as they flee.

The whole 3 book series was excellent!

 

Puzzle Master by T.J. McKenna: It' s the year 2022 and all religion has been banned and every sort of vice is condoned. Enter a history professor, Cephas, who not only loves puzzles, but is known as the Cult Hunter...famous for breaking the codes that leads the government to track down "hidden Christians". Now in order to stop them once and for all, Cephas is given the chance to go back in time to prove, once and for all, that Jesus was not the Messiah and did not come back from the dead.

 

Mysterious Kemet by S.R. Anand- is a collection of 5 novelettes set during the times of Imhotep, Nefertiti, Hatshepsut, Intef the Third, and Ankhtifi. Tempered in the fire of greed, revenge, lust, and ambition, this collection tells the following five riveting tales from Ancient Egypt.

I think this is the first time I had a collection as one of my top 10, but I really enjoyed this one!

 

My honorable mention is one that I have read before, and re-read this year, but I can't say enough about this series. The Voice in the Wind series by Francine Rivers will always be in the top 10 books of all time for me. I always come away a changed person from reading it. It is Christian fiction and many people would find it "preachy", but it comes with my highest recommendation!

 

  

 

So that's it! Hope everyone has a fantastic New Year full of new discoveries in books and authors!

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review 2017-12-03 20:28
Sekret is full of intrigue, supernatural mind-reading, and even a little romance.
Sekret - Lindsay Smith

 

Book Title:  Sekret

Author:  Lindsay Smith

Series:  Sekret #1

Genre:  YA | Historical Fiction | Supernatural

Setting:  Russia

Source:  Kindle eBook (Library)

 

 

 

Add to Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot:  4.5/5

Main Characters:  3.5/5

Secondary Characters:  3.5/5

The Feels:  3.8/5

Pacing:  3.8/5

Addictiveness:  3.5/5

Theme or Tone:  4.2/5

Flow (Writing Style):  3/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4/5

Originality:5/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Ending:  4/5  Cliffhanger:  Yes.

Steam Factor 0-5: 1

Total:  3.8/5 STARS - GRADE=B

 

 

 

A completely different kind of read for me.  One that starts off at a slower pace but cleverly creeps up on you.  Sekret is a story that's shaped by actual historical events, some you will immediately recognize, like the assassination of JFK. 

 

The Good:  The intriguing premise makes this a notable and interesting read.  Along with the supernatural abilities, that are explained in a way that makes them seem completely natural.

 

The Bad:   I really would have liked the characters to be more relatable, although, towards the end, I did find myself liking them.  Also, the reading flow was compromised due to the many names she called the characters by.  Apparently, Russians have several different names they go by where they add certain endings depending on whether they are male or female, or something like that. The Author explains all this in the beginning of the book with "A Note on Russian Names".  Even with that, though, I still struggled to keep the characters straight.  I wish she would have just called each character by one name, even if it made it less credible.

 

Will I continue this series?  I will have to be in the mood for something like this, but yeah, I believe I will, eventually.

 

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review 2017-11-02 21:21
A thoroughly entertaining sequel to Rebel of the Sands...
Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands) - Alwyn Hamilton

Book Title:  Traitor to the Throne

Author:  Alwyn Hamilton

Narration:  Soneela Nankani

Series:  Rebel of the Sands #2

Genre:  YA, Fantasy

Setting:  Maraji

Source:  Audiobook (Library)

 

 

 

Add to Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot:  4.2/5

Main Characters:  5/5

Secondary Characters:  5/5

The Feels:  4.5/5

Addictiveness:  4/5

Theme or Tone:  5/5

Flow (Writing Style):  4/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4.5/5

Originality:  5/5

Book Cover:  5/5

Narration:  5/5

Ending:  4.2/5  Cliffhanger:  Yes!

Steam Factor 0-5:  2

Total:  4.3/5 STARS - GRADE=A-

 

 

 

Once I could keep most of the characters straight on who is who, I found myself enjoying this, and what amazing characters they are.  Amani is with-a-doubt one of my favorite YA heroines of all time.   She isn't whiny, she uses her head and she's kind of bad-ass too.  I did really miss Jin, we didn't get nearly enough of him.  I really wish we could get inside his head, just once, at least.  Also, the narration is excellently done by Soneela Nankani.  

 

Will I continue this series⇜  Yes, I will…I need to not wait so long, though, because I was lost for a bit on this one.  There's a lot of names to keep straight.  Even with the first chapter re-capping what happened in the book one. Hero at the Fall is due out in March of 2018.

 

 

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review 2017-10-13 20:38
The Fifth Element by Jørgen Brekke
The Fifth Element: A Novel (Odd Singsaker) - Jorgen Brekke

I started reading this in Norwegian shortly after it came out four years ago, but then my Norwegian neighbour wanted it back to lend to someone else, as I was taking too long. So when I saw it had been translated to English, I immediately put it on my 'to-read' list, and I'm glad I did. The American English translation is excellent.

 

The book isn't written chronologically, but jumps back and forth in time from different POV's. It takes some getting used to, but, once done, it's an absorbing read. 

 

It's very 'Scandi noire': short sentences, spare descriptions that let the reader fill in the blanks, yet always enough to keep building the pressure in some areas, yet letting it out in others.

 

For me, the underlying theme is, what is evil? Is it banal, as Hannah Arendt wrote? Do good people do evil things, and evil people good things? When do we cross the line from good to evil? Are we all a mix of both? There are no answers here, just many questions, if the reader is one who muses over those sorts of things.

 

But that's the subtext. The plot itself is a good, solid thriller. Here's the American publisher's blurb:

 

Police Inspector Odd Singsaker has been captured, imprisoned on an island off the Northern coast of Norway. He wakes to find himself holding a shotgun. Next to him is a corpse. But what events led him to this point? And how did he get here?

A few weeks earlier, Felicia, his wife, disappeared. Though he didn’t know it, she was trying to find her way back to Odd to reconcile, but then she vanished into a snowstorm. Possibly involved is a corrupt, coldblooded cop from Oslo, a devious college student who’s stolen a great deal of cocaine from drug dealers, and a hit man hired by the drug dealers who have been robbed. All of these lives intersect with Odd’s as he searches for Felicia.

 

The Fifth Element is ultimately the story of what happened to Felicia Stone. Within that journey, brutal crimes are uncovered, tenacious love shines through, and chilling characters with nothing to lose will stop at nothing to get what they want. Jorgen Brekke once again delivers a chilling thriller that readers will tear through to unravel what happened-and why.

 

I can understand why the existential undertones of the book are played dow--they wouldn't exactly sell it to an American market, but I've been living in Denmark for so long I've come to expect them. The first books I ever read in Danish were Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's, which, I later read, are the pillars of crime fiction from the 70's on. 

 

Recommended.

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text 2017-10-09 23:29
Reluctant Hero by @DebraWebbAuthor @ReganBlack
Reluctant Hero (Harlequin Intrigue) - Regan Black,Debra Webb

A thoroughly enjoyable suspense read with a nice hook. Here's the blurb:

 

For top security expert Parker Lawton, the anonymous threat is explosive. Return the gold stolen during his intelligence unit's last Iraq mission—or they'll each be hunted down. And when one of his men is killed just before meeting investigative reporter Rebecca Wallace, he must take her under his "protection." But her persistence in getting the real story is even more dangerous—and irresistible. 

For a dashing war hero, Parker is the most guilty-acting innocent man Becca has ever seen. Still, working with him is the only way to stay ahead of a ruthless enemy. And as her instincts and Parker's skills hone in on the truth, trusting the desire simmering between them could be their only chance—or the last move they'll ever make.

 

I though V for Vendetta when I read the beginning of the book, and there are a few similarities. Except Parker realises he's made a mistake shortly after making it, and that's where the similarity ends. I liked the way it's really Becca who's the emotional rock. Parker Lawton is no traditional Alpha: he lets emotions get in the way of common sense, and he makes a few bad decisions because of it. Which only makes him more human and sympathetic, despite basically kidnapping Becca. It's explained in the book, and the explanation rings true in the novel's world.

 

I've mentioned before that I find it irritating when the reader is constantly reminded by characters how "strong" the female protagonist is. That should be evident by her words and actions. It happens once in this book, and it's Parker thinking it while he was alone. And, given his own gung-ho military background, it's perfectly reasonable he'd be surprised given Becca's background.

 

The plot is very suspenseful but it's a bit more in the background, which is necessary given that circumstances dictate a slower development of the romantic interest.

 

<Sort of digression> very many romances use the trope of the first attempt at bonking being interrupted to build up the tension before they finally 'do it'. I remember wondering, the first time I read a modern romance at the beginning of this century, what the purpose was. Then I remembered the circus and the trapeze artists. The pièce de resistance was always 'the most difficult manoeuvre ever attempted'. And they always failed the first two times, and made it on the third. If they made it on the first try, what was so difficult about it? The equivalent in pro wrestling are false finishes, where the 'babyface' (hero) almost pins the 'heel' villain at the end, getting to a two and three-quarter count twice or thrice before finally finishing him off by getting the three count. It builds up tension the same way. Easy is boring. <end digression> 

 

Recommended. 

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