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!
Tasks for Saturnalia: Wear a mask, take a picture and post it. Leave a small gift for someone you know anonymously - a small bit of chocolate or apple, a funny poem or joke. Tell us about it in a post. –OR– Tell us: If you could time-travel back to ancient Rome, where would you want to go and whom (both fictional and / or nonfictional persons) would you like to meet?
BrokenTune has already mentioned two people I really rather would have liked to meet as well, Cicero and Ovid. In addition to the reasons she mentions, I probably also would have liked to pick Cicero's brain on some of his trial strategies (in addition to being Rome's most famous orator, he was also a first class lawyer, who scored some of the most celebrated victories in all of legal history) -- and I'd have liked to ask Ovid how he ever came up with the madcap idea for his Metamorphoses.
In addition to these two, I'd have liked to:
* chat history, historical sources and research, and veracity and authentication, with Livy, Vergil, and Suetonius;
* find out what Plutarch would have thought about the fact that some of his writings provided the source material for the plays of a famous English playwright named William Shakespeare a millennium and a half after he himself had put quill to parchment (or to scroll, or whatever), and how, proud Greek that he was, he really felt about living under Roman rule;
* ask Seneca about the experience of advising a lunatic like Nero (other than: scary as hell, that is), how many times he was close to committing suicide out of sheer desperation before Nero actually made him do so, what kept him going nevertheless -- and how in the world he managed to write plays, and pretty impressive ones at that, in addition to what would seem to have been a full time political day job (also, whether he really was the author of the Apocolocyntosis divi Claudii, and how he came up with that one in the first place);
and find out from Marcus Aurelius how he implemented his philosophical maxims in his day to day duties as an emperor, particular in making unpleasant (or even harsh) decisions in warfare and in the administration of justice.
As for fictional characters from that time, though not actually living in Rome, whom I'd like to meet -- well, you know, there came a time in 50 A.D. when Gaul was entirely occupied by the Romans. Umm, entirely? Well, no, not entirely ... One small village of indomitable Gauls still held out against the invaders. And life was not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrisoned the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium ...
Galla Placida is sister to one of the last Roman Emperors in 400 AD. As a young woman Placida is captured by the Goths. Growing up in their camps, she comes to respect their way of life and skills. Placida especially enjoys the company of Ataulf. She eventually marries Ataulf and becomes Queen of the Goths by his side, helping with decisions and in battle. Placida's brother, however, sees her marriage to Ataulf as a political move by the Goths and orders her home. Unfortunately, Ataulf is killed in a plan to overthrow him. Placida is captured and uses her strength and intelligence to escape and enact revenge. Now, she must return to her brother and the marriage that he has arranged for her; although, she returns with a groups loyal to her until the very end.
Placida is a force to be reckoned with. I am so happy I got the chance to learn about her life. Even though women were not allowed to rule in their own right, Placida managed to keep Rome together in its dying days. I was amazed by her patience and willingness to understand and learn from the Goths when she was originally captured instead of just fight back. She seemed to continually look at decisions long term and for the good of her people and land. The story follows Placida from a young women to her death. I very much enjoyed watching her grow and seeing how she hand a hand in political decisions through her brother, both of her husbands and her son. As conflict rose throughout the territories and Placida aged, Placida's job became more and more difficult. Through the writing, I got a wonderful sense of Placida's character while sticking to the history of the time period. Overall, a breathtaking and immense journey through one inspirational and impactful woman's life in Rome.
One of the most beautiful stories I have ever read! This is a must read, and although it is Christian fiction, I think anyone could come away from it learning some truthful life lessons. Being a Christian myself, I found it to be one of the finest examples of God's love and mercy.
A re-read for me, and one I should re-read more often.